Saturday, May 17, 2014

Snuff the Rooster: A Cocktail and Closer Look at Cockspur 130 Overproof Rum

Snuff the Rooster
The recently released Cockspur 130 Overproof Rum will not only capture your attention, but may ruffle a few feathers. Distilled on the isle of Barbados, it's the prodigy of good rum genes and the only other Bajan overproof rum contestant in the US. Considering the number of great overproof rums in the Caribbean, it's exciting and quite refreshing to see another one enter a category of rather scant selection. Oh yeah! Cockspur Rum has always had great brand appeal, from its uber fun logo and catchy marketing lines to those who have simply tasted and enjoy the Bajan style of rum. This isn't the first time mentioning this exciting brand here, for an article on touring the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD), where their rums are born and raised, can be found by clicking here. In Washington State, where Cockspur Rums have had patchy availability during the transition from a state controlled to a privatized system, the news of its release was right on time. To celebrate its arrival, a cocktail was in order. Although simple mixers, such as coconut water work well and are delicious, something with more local appeal was desired. Seattle's burgeoning interest in r(h)um and focus on quality cocktails and ingredients encouraged my underlying interest; celebrate the cock on its label. Make it about the rooster! So, using egg was a must, certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO of course. This rum's forthcoming pot still aromas and flavors hold up nicely and are fully appreciated through the smooth merengue-like texture achieved by using an egg white. Having been attacked by a rooster as a young child (then seeing it put to death) and later witnessing cockfights in Mexico, I wanted the cocktail to be pleasantly intense; packing a bit of spicy heat for a memorable experience. Sriracha hot sauce, boasting a rooster on the front of its bottle was perfect. The spicy note would contrast well with chocolate. What chocolate you say? Aztec Chocolate Bitters!! Keeping with quality ingredients, Giffard makes a delicious grapefruit liqueur (nothing in their line is bad) and its recommendation by Andrew Bohrer (Vinum) was spot on, pairing nicely with the chocolate. Working and reworking the ratios amidst rounding out the flavors with Benedictine DOM and Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters completed the idea. Who doesn't like more bitters, right? But what about a name? If you know Seattle, then you know it has seen some talented musicians. Alice In Chains helped out with that one. If you're a fan, then Layne Staley's voice should be sounding inside your head right now. Please let me introduce...

Snuff the Rooster


1 1/2 oz Cockspur 130 Overproof Rum
1 egg white*
1/2 oz lemon juice* (fresh pressed)
Place 3 lines of Sriracha solution on top (1 part Sriracha: 3 parts water)

Preparation: Dry shake egg white only, then add all ingredients with ice (except Sriracha) and shake well. Strain into martini glass. Place 3 drops of Sriracha onto surface and make a rooster footprint (I used a toothpick).
*Organic and non-GMO 



Cockspur 130 Overproof Rum

 

Cockspur 130 Overproof Rum: A Closer Look


Bottle - Reminiscent of the Cockspur Fine Rum in its shape, its sets itself apart by an eye opening red banner across the label. This Rum's proof isn't hiding here folks and it's underlined in black in case you missed it: 130 proof = 65% ABV! The design is simple, easily recognizable and filled with a "Product of Barbados" that we all love called Rum!

Appearance - Transparent clarity. After swirling in the glass, many very tiny droplets bead up, coalescing and escaping downward into thin, little chicken legs.

Aroma - Mildly sweet without overtly noxious alcohol aromas. Subtle notes of ripe banana, tropical fruits (guava and passion fruit), vanilla and anise are appreciated. A notable pot still aromatic "hogo" with hints of fresh marshmallows are also pleasant and become more noticeable as it opens up over time in the snifter.

Taste - It's entry into the mouth is heated up to mid-palate; no surprise here. The taste confirms the aromas detected earlier with less distinction. Notably, it still maintains the backbone flavor found in the rest of the line. It's light bodied with a pronounced astringent effect. Again, no surprises.  

Finish - Short and concise. The re-surfacing of that earlier heat in the mouth is noticed in the back of the throat as the dominant flavors fade from the palate.

Overall, the Cockspur 130 Overproof Rum has a surprisingly pleasant bouquet for its proof with flavors that hold up well in a cocktail. Its potential as a mixer is significant and it is a welcome addition to the Cockspur Rum line.

Cheers!



Friday, April 25, 2014

Introducing Admiral Rodney and The Forgotten Casks to Seattle: A Chairman's Education and Afterparty


Admiral Rodney and Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks
The Rum Collective's launch party at Wine World & Spirits, September 2013
The time was long overdue and the patience of rum connoisseurs around the US ran aground years ago. In fact, many had simply given up on seeing Admiral Rodney stateside. Would the trademark trial over its comparison to Admiral Nelson be resolved? Would the US market hold enough interest to foster passage of The Forgotten Casks Rum? Last September, things done changed! Not only were they approved, (yes, the USPTO has officially accepted that there was more than one admiral in the British Royal Navy!) but these world class rums were launched in three cities in the US. Seattle, with its rum-loving community, was one the chosen few along with Washington, DC and New York. For those of you who attended the launch party, the following should stoke the fire of fond memories gained (or lost) that night. For those that missed it, you can now taste these rums, as bottles have just arrived and will be available (finally!) at select locations in Seattle later this week.


Admiral Rodney Box
The excitement and suspense surrounding the launch party events in Seattle complimented these two rums' turbulent history. First, legislation had just went into effect a week prior allowing liquor retailers to hold spirit tastings in Washington State. So, this launch was to be a Washington premiere, not only for these two gems of the rum world, but also of legally "sampling" rum in a retail liquor store in our now privatized state. Second, Clyde Davis Jr., the gentlemen largely responsible for their US entrance and success, was flying in for the events. Wine World, a liquor retailer with spacious event rooms and a solid selection of rum, was an ideal location. That evening, guests continually arrived even after the seats filled for a taste of what was coming. The invitation made clear to RSVP, but the love for rum overcame electronic formalities and many were content with standing, or should I say, sipping room only. Rumantic! The educational, guided tasting through the majority of St. Lucia Distiller's finest rums had begun...

We discussed the rum's early beginnings, originating in 1931 at the Barnard Family-owned distillery (Dennery Factory Co.) up until the recent passing of their Managing Director and 3rd Generation family member Laurie Barnard in 2012. Just as many of the Caribbean islands have gone, by the 1950's, the forces influencing the consolidation of rum producers were winning and only two distilleries, the Dennery Distillery (Barnard Family) and the Roseau Bay Distillery (Geest Family), remained. Today, rum making continues at the distillery in Roseau Bay only. As the majority of the cultivated land was converted to a banana from a sugarcane-based crop in the 1960's, the Dennery Factory Co. was forced to import molasses due to lack of availability on the island. Later in 1972, their merger with the Geest Family (Dutch Banana Co.) and formation of the St. Lucia Group consolidated the local distilleries, later branding their own rums, like Denros Bounty Rum. Chairman's Reserve was on the horizon.

Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks Box
Today, the family directed process and vision hasn't changed. Their rums are made from molasses, which is imported from Guyana and fermented by a separated yeast process for 24-30 hours. To achieve the distinct flavor marques, they employ four stills in their distillation process: three pots (two John Dore and one Vendome) and one single continuous column still. It's a pleasure to taste through the entire line at once, beginning with the Chairman's Reserve Silver. The Silver is a blend of column and pot still rums aged 3-4 years and is charcoal filtered (don't let the transparency fool you!) revealing a medium bodied, dry mixing rum with a mild sweetness and subtle hints of banana. Chairman's Reserve Rum was next up. It was conceived by the late Laurie Barnard in 1999, also a pot and column still blend that shows off a bit more of its aged maturity (~5 yr) with balanced aromas of baking spices, light hints of cocoa and vanilla arising underneath a more aromatic pot still hogo and oakiness. Clyde has many stories to share and gives a important perspective on importing and raising a brand in the US. We then entered The Forgotten Casks, which is a similar blend of rums as the Reserve Rum, but unintentionally* aged an average of 7-12 years. The Forgotten Casks reveals, without much effort, some of those deeper passionate notes; boasting raisins, chocolate and tobacco with hints of citrus under the nose and silky mouth-feel resonating soft sultans and toffee on the palate. The Chairman's Reserve Spiced needs little introduction here. A leader in the spiced rum category that can be sipped or mixed. It stands up anyway you want it, with or without the help it's unique aphrodisiac-laden infusion of Bois Bande. Finally, we experience Admiral Rodney. It is also a blend of rums with an average of 12 years, however, in contrast to the others, it is from column still only. Well balanced and decorated with all the charms you would expect of a premium product. Needless to say, those who sipped it voiced their "oh, wows" and "yums" beckoning for more. While The Forgotten Casks won't let you soon forget what you've tasted, Admiral Rodney, will have you surrendering and quite possibly declaring it as your next favorite rum. I will state here, as I have stated about the Chairman's Reserve Rums before - they're undervalued and remain a great buy. Everyone knows the formula; high quality spirit divided by low cost equals great value. This is one of those rums where you can do the math and feel good knowing the answer!

*So what is the story behind the name, The Forgotten Casks?

On May 2nd, 2007, a devastating fire set by arsonists, destroyed the blending, laboratory and administrative buildings on site. The cellar master, Cyril Mangal, had problems finding storage places for safeguarding the rums. Many of the once-used bourbon casks, held a blend of pot and column still rums. Some of the casks were placed in locations where they would be forgotten about for some time before being discovered.
Hence, the name The Forgotten Casks...

After tasting it, you'll want St. Lucia Distiller's to keep forgetting them!

Where did Chairman's Reserve get its name? 

Instead of re-writing it here, get the full story from our good friends at Uncommon Caribbean!

Onward to....

The Afterparty at Rob Roy!


If you have been to Rob Roy, one of Seattle's favorite cocktail bars or have witnessed the talent of the owner, Anu Apte, then you are aware of the enjoyment that follows after ordering there. An exclusive menu of cocktails featuring Chairman's Reserve Rums was created for the event. Let's have a look!



Gunpowder Punch
Chairman's Reserve Rum
Gin
Citrus
Turbinado Sugar 
Old World Spices
Gundpowder











Rummin' with the Devil
Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks
Orange Bitters














Islands in the Stream
Chairman's Reserve Rum
Dry Vermouth
Creme de Cassis
Orange Blossom Flower Water


















St. Lucia Oriole
Chairman's Reserve Finest - The Forgotten Casks
Apricot Liquer
Lemon 
Falernum
Cinnamon











ATTENTION READERS!

 If you want to buy The Forgotten Casks and/or Admiral Rodney, they are now available in limited quantities at Wine World & Spirits.



A big thank you to Wine World for their support and providing the event space!

Cheers to Anu Apte and the barstaff at Rob Roy for a brilliant menu of delicious rum cocktails!! 

Finally, thank you to everyone who attended to make this one of The Rum Collective's most historic events!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Angostura Global Cocktail Competition 2014 Highlights

Angostura Global Cocktail Competition 2014
The memories remain fresh in my mind after witnessing one of finest, if not the ultimate, rum cocktail competition known. Just over a week ago, 11 finalists, each representing the finest in their craft, from around the world, descended upon Trinidad. Their purpose? To compete in the highly acclaimed Angostura Global Cocktail Competition for $10,000 USD and a two year contract as Angostura's Global Brand Ambassador. Their showmanship and cocktail mastery may be best captured in their cocktail's aromas and flavors while experiencing the show from behind the bar. While this is not always possible, a series of photos highlighting the play-by-play action offers a teaser to and recap of the amount of awesome that went down, quite literally at Aria. Let's take a look!


First up is James 'Sugarfoot' Goggin of New Zealand!


Not an easy position being first, but this was an impressive start for sure. 

Left to Right: Down the Islands (Rum) & Elementary (Freestyle) 

Each competitor had to present two original cocktails containing Angostura Bitters. One cocktail may include a base spirit of choice (Freestyle) while the second required use of an Angostura Rum (Rum). Additionally, two of each cocktail had to be prepared for submission to the panel of judges within seven minutes! 


 Next up, Rohan Hackshaw of Barbados!


How about that beautiful zest?!

Passionate Thyme (Freestyle)



Third in line, was Mike Tomasic of Australia!


Muscatel clusters & tobacco leaves oh my!

Olympia (Freestyle)

Big Bird (Rum)

How about a look at the Judges!

Left to Right: Daniyel Jones, Ian Burrell, Julie Reiner, Philip Duff & Carol Homer-Caesar


Next up, Nazar Makarov of Russia!



A brilliant performance set to music with flair bartending and more...

Rum Story (Rum)
...like ristretto coffee, marchpan syrup and 100% cocoa. Yum!

Tiramisu (Freestyle)


5th in line and representing the USA was Yani M Frye!



He actually made four different cocktails representing sequential stages of attraction between two people; shaking four all at once! Oh, and this was under the seven minute limit!!

The Morning After, The Room Key, Lasting Impression (Freestyle) & A Kiss Goodbye (Rum)


Getting thirsty yet?


Next up, Barbaro Giraldes Portieles of Cuba!



Don Portieles (Freestyle) & Trinidad Farandula (Rum)


Admittedly, I was not able to taste all of them, but I did happen to taste a few in between some amazing appetizers compliments of Aria. Delicious!



Next up was Panagiotis Giovanis of Greece!


Fire it up!

Left to Right: Safe House (Rum) & Scarlet Ibis (Freestyle)


Next up, Shane Mulvany of Canada!


Elegant presentation with a butterfly garnish...

Kiss of the Butterfly (Rum)


Mate Csaltos of the UK!


Artistic style and charisma!

Beautiful Year (Rum)

Next up, Denzel Heath of South Africa!



Wolverine? Perhaps, and a finely dressed one I will add.

Ribe's Cobbler (Rum)


 It is amazing listening to the stories behind the ingredients used, let alone the attention to detail that goes into executing the elements of each cocktail. What a show!


Last up, Kester Blake of Trinidad and Tobago!


This guy can shake it!

Calypso Rose (Freestyle)


The judges carefully deliberated and winners were announced. The professionalism and comradeship of the competitors were admirable. 

And the winners are....

Left to Right: Mate Csaltos, Michael Tomasic and Nazar Makarov


Grand Prize: Michael Tomasic - Freestyle Cocktail "Olympia" winner
2nd Place: Nazar Makarov - Rum Cocktail  "Rum Story" winner
3rd Place: Mate Csaltos


Congratulations to all the winners!!!
Angostura CEO Mr. Robert Wong & Grand Prize Winner Michael Tomasic

Afterparty!!

All 11 Finalists and the lovely Giselle Laronde-West

Cheers!!!



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Limin' in the Spice Isle: Celebrating Rum of Grenada

Grenada: Local Rum, Spices & Flora
Select spices courtesy of World Spice Merchants
Rum is a free spirit and throughout history has been at the forefront of several wars, some of which resulted in independence. In recognition, we mark our first event of 2014 by celebrating Grenada's Independence Day with an exploration of their finest rums. Also known as the Isle of Spice, Grenada is the home of three different distilleries, each boasting a range of unique rums. Most of these don't leave the island albeit in a tourist's luggage. There is even one brand that doesn't leave at all due to it's proof! This event we continue our mission to enhance awareness and develop appreciation of rum by bringing them to you for a first hand educational experience. Guests can expect an informative slide-show complimenting a guided tasting through a bouquet of hand-selected expressions, including the newly released Plantation Grenada 2003. Of course we will be integrating a couple of these into cocktails crafted by Liberty's finest bartenders. Please join us for an evening of Grenadian Rum!


Sunday, February 9th from 7-9pm
$30 cash / person
(bring a friend and receive $5 dollars off!)

For further details and updates, please see The Rum Collective Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/242074455975592


See you there!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Rum Collective's 'Hot' Harvest Cocktail Contest: The Winners

International Rum Council Flag, Imbibe MagazineRhum J.M
The Coterie Room Bar
Hot drinks featuring Rhum J.M was the theme of our Contest and the cocktails were a blazin'! Considering several of the rhums used were 100 proof, this may or may not be a surprise. The bar at The Coterie Room set the stage as the finalists prepared and the crowd gathered around the Macouba Punch bowl to refill their cups just prior to showtime. The panel of judges gave the sign and the first contestant was called. What were the cocktails, who won and what were their prizes?

Here's a look at all that steaming hot agricole action...


Macouba Punch w/ Rhum J.M Blanc
 
 
 
Macouba Punch
 (single serving)
 
1.5oz Rhum J.M Blanc (100 proof)
1oz grapefruit juice
0.5oz lime juice
0.5oz passionfruit juice
0.5oz blackberry brandy
6 drops Herbsaint
 
(Recipe adapted from Chemistry of the Cocktail)
 







 

The Hot Cocktails

 
 
Finalist Emily Mistell presents...
 
Lord Grantham
1.5oz brown butter fat-washed Rhum J.M Blanc
6oz brewed Assam black tea (hot)
1/2-3/4oz sweetened condensed milk
 
Prepare by steeping 2 tsp of tea in 6oz water for four mintues. Pour Rhum J.M, sweetened condensed milk and bitters in a cup and stir in the hot tea. Serve in a tea cup with a russian tea cake made with the brown butter fat that washed the Rhum J.M.

Lord Grantham by Emily Mistell

 
Finalist Nathan Layman presents...
 
A Christmas Travesty, Green Cale Edition
1.5oz Rhum J.M Gold (100 proof)
1oz Pineapple Gomme Syrup
0.5oz Becherovka
2oz Hot Water
 
Prepare Blue Blazer Style, served up in an appropriate hot mug with a large orange zest. Cale Green Edition includes a ham and pineapple garnish.
 
A Christmas Travesty by Nathan Layman


Finalist Jason Saura presents...
 
Le Rayon Verte
1oz Rhum J.M Gold (100 proof)
0.5oz Green Chartreuse
2oz Hot Green Tea
0.5oz Honey syrup (2:1 Honey to water)
 
Prepare by adding the first three ingredients into a silver Tankard and the last two into another. Light alcohol on fire, then pour back and forth 4 - 5 times in the style of the Blue Blazer. Pour into a tempered wine glass, garnish with apple slice and fresh, grated nutmeg 
 
Le Rayon Verte by Jason Saura

 
Finalist Kristen Burns presents...
 
Smoked Caramel Rum Cider
2oz Rhum J.M V.S.O.P
1/4oz ruby port (Porto Defino)
4oz pressed Braeburn Apple cider
1oz house-made smoked sea salt caramel sauce
Prepare by placing Rhum J.M and port to a glass mug, then add heated cider and stir in house-made caramel sauce. Garnish with a house-made rumball using Rhum J.M Gold (& spoonful of caramel)

Smoked Caramel Rum Cider by Kristen Burns


Finalist Casey Robison presents...

Horchata & Rhum Milk Punch
2oz Rhum J.M 10yr. '97'
4-4.5oz home made "Horchata Milk Punch Mix"
(rice, milk, vanilla, condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, agave, aromatic bitters, chocolate bitters)

Prepare in a tea kettle, heated up and served with a stick of Mexican cinnamon

Horchata & Rhum Milk Punch by Casey Robison
 
 

The Prizes

 
Take a look, they're vintage... Oh hell yeah!
 
1st Place Prize: Rhum J.M 1994, 1997 & V.S.O.P,
'Ti Punch gift set and a 2yr Imbibe subscription 
 
2nd Place Prize: Rhum J.M 1994,
'Ti Punch gift set and a 1yr Imbibe subscription
 
3rd Place Prize: Rhum J.M 1997,
'Ti Punch gift set and a 1yr Imbibe subscription
 

Winners

 
1st Place: Horchata & Rhum Milk Punch by Casey Robison
 
2nd Place: Smoked Caramel Rhum Cider by Kristen Burns
 
3rd Place: Le Rayon Verte by Jason Saura
 

Left to Right: Jason Saura, Kristen Burns & Casey Robison

How About a Big Round of Applause for the Winners!

 
Thank you to the judges, Rhum J.M, Imbibe Magazine an Spur Gastropub for your support!

Rhum on!!
 
Rhum J.M Blanc & Rhum J.M Gold

Cheers!!!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rum Collective's 'Hot' Harvest Cocktail Contest: The Finalists

One of Martinique's most celebrated rhums is about to spill out of its typical 'Ti Punch role into the realm of hot toddies, warmed punches and coffee drinks. That's right, Rhum J.M is breaking away from its historic mold. Wait, what? Aren't rhum agricoles just for making 'Ti Punch? Perhaps, but not if we have something to say about it! Just as other lesser-known spirits have come to achieve over time, rhum agricole will expand out of its traditional cocktail like tequila to the Margarita, cachaça to the Caipirinha and pisco to its Sour. This contest is set to expand the agricole envelope and after reviewing many amazing entries, it's clear there are many talented individuals capable of this. We are pleased to announce the following contestants have been selected to present their cocktails in a live competition at The Coterie Room on November 24th, 2013 from 5-7pm just following our tasting event. Outstanding!

 

The Finalists


Casey Robison
Spirits Director, Heavy Restaurant Group

Emily Mistell
Bar Manager, Rum Club

Kristen Burns
Bartender & Owner, Clever Bottle

Jason Saura
Bar Manager, Naga Cocktail Bar

Elizabeth Powell
Bartender, Liberty Bar
  
Nathan Layman
Bar Manager, The Tin Table


Want to experience this steaming hot agricole action live? No problem. Grab a ticket to our meeting, Giving Thanks to Rhum J.M: Tasting the Harvest and receive a complimentary VIP Pass!

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!



Cheers!