Friday, May 4, 2012

The Rum Collective's 7th Meeting: Banks Rums at Ba Bar

Banks 5 Island Cocoa Passion Sling
by Evan Martin
Quality ingredients make for the beginning of a quality product. If we apply this cocktailian rule to a meeting, then featuring Banks Rums, cocktails crafted by an award-winning bartender and the foodistry of Ba Bar should produce a first-rate rum tasting experience. Here are the details...

Guests were greeted appopriately; with awesome. An eye catching rum cocktail to be specific. Take a peek at her centerfold photo. Just looking at it makes you thirsty! Evan Martin, previously at Naga Lounge, now bar manager at Ba Bar, illustrates Banks 5 Island Rum's bold character in a refreshingly tropical Cocoa Passion Sling. Evan interjects, the idea is a "blending of exotic flavors of absinthe, chocolate and passsion fruit together in a tradtionally styled tiki drink." Passion? Oh yeah! Looking at her up and down, I'll admit I like her features and as Steve Miller says best, "want to shake [her] tree" joke! Designed and built to perfection, here is what's under her orange and mint garnished hood.

Cocoa Passion Sling

1.75oz Banks 5 Island Rum
0.66oz White Creme de Cacao
0.75oz Passion Fruit syrup (house made)
1 freshly pressed orange (juice)
0.5 freshly pressed lime (juice)
Swizzle with crushed ice
garnish: orange slice, mint sprigs

Banks V.X.O., Banks XM 10yr Royal Gold, Banks 5 Island Rum
Banks 5 Island is not just another white rum. Period. Just read the dilemma in its description. "Its a pity to mix, and a shame not to." The Rum Collective solution? Mix it, sip it neat and mix it again! Ain't no shame in that! It is both novel and unique and surprised many after tasting it neat. Here is yet another example of why Rum is the most diverse distilled spirit. Banks 5 Island is composed of twenty-two different rums made at six distilleries in five locations, which were used to perfect a blend over 18 months. Wow! There is no other rum that has a blend of Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and Java. You won't find that in Bourbon, Scotch or Gin! Arnaud de Trebuc, the master blender, is not new to the art, having a long history blending Cognacs in addition to time spent with Angostura and Bacardi. Don't let its water like clarity mislead you. There is a fine blend of pot and column stilled rums of various ages within but the color acquired from aging has been removed by charcoal filtration. Jim Meehan of PDT, their talented consultant and co-author of The PDT Cocktail Book has placed his stamp of approval on this rum for good reason.

After some satisfying small plates courtesy of Ba Bar, the discussion moves on to a story about Demerara, Guyana. Its rich rum soaked history in the 18th and 19th centuries included hundreds of distilleries, supplying the Royal Navy's Rum habit and bragging rights to some rare wooden pot and column stills, one of which is the last remaining and oldest continuously working wooden Coffey still in existence. Today, much has changed. After the Royal Navy served its last rum ration in 1970, we now have what is known as Black Tot Day preserving the memory. Only one distillery remains on the east banks of the Demerara River in Guyana, owned by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). However, for this meeting, there are still a few rums from Demerara's heigh day still with us and one is present for the tasting! Banks DIH Rums are gems and if you can find them, drink up. Not to be confused with Banks 5 Island Rum, Banks DIH Rums began with Jose Gomes D'Aguiar in 1840 as part of a diverse family business. Today this demerara rum is sourced from the stocks at DDL and aged in bourbon casks, blended and finished off in Sherry Casks. We taste two remarkable rums, the V.X.O. and XM 10 year Royal Gold, both aged in bourbon barrels for 7 and 10 years respectively. They are both finished off in sherry casks for 6 months. We have seen this type of aging process and the favorable results it produces at previous meetings featuring Doorly's XO and Ron Dos Maderas. Tasting the XM 10 year Royal Gold was a real treat. Yum!

Banks 5 Island La Floridita
by Evan Martin
The final cocktail is served up neat. This La Floridita is beautiful and shows off the spirit's character as well as the art and skill of the bartender. Evan tells us he adapted the original recipe in the La Floridita Bar Book famed by the legendary Constante Ribalaigua Vert to fit what the actual vermouth used at that time may have been. Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry, what is called for, was probably a sweeter white vermouth at that time and not the more common sweet or dry vermouth of French producers today. Could this be a taste of authenticity? After a sip, I am a believer. Cheers to historical libations and the merits of all of cocktail purists. Enjoy!

La Floridita

1.5 oz Banks 5 Island
0.75 oz Blanc Vermouth
0.5 oz Grenadine (scant)
0.5 freshly pressed lime
2-3 dashes Chocolate Bitters
Garnished with a slice of lime 

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