Friday, May 18, 2012

Seattle Rumdrops: Drink Locally at Liberty

Drink Locally
Prepared by Keith Waldbauer
April showers brings..? Well, in Seattle, that answer is often, May showers. This Spring, as our ubiquitous rain clouds slowly shrink for the Sun's short debut, I will assure you there is nothing "dry" about Seattle in our view. For this post, we return to our good friends at Liberty, who just released their new cocktail menu. Fittingly, its looking in full bloom. Page after page of new cocktails are there for your drinking enjoyment, but let's go directly to what matters - the one titled, Rum! Lined with plenty of options; Drink Locally catches my eye. Keith Waldbauer, co-owner of Liberty, nods to signal I have made the right choice. First, fresh blueberries and quartered lime wedges are pressed in a Mason jar before me. Then, Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça and a few dashes Scrappy's Aromatic Bitters are added to this rather crafty vessel. So, what about this cocktail's name? Locally owned by Draxos Axinte, Novo Fogo Cachaças need little introduction in these parts. Remember The Rum Collective meeting featuring Novo Fogo last year? If not, take a look at the review! His impressive sugar cane-based line of cachaças demand respect and do wonders when mixed properly. The fabulous array of Scrappy's Bitters are also conveniently crafted here in Seattle. There you have it, an honest name for an honest drink.

The jar is sealed, served and I am told you can shake it up how you like it. Fun!
Lid off, its refreshing, balanced and a perfect drink to start off springtime.

Drink Locally
Prepared by Keith Waldbauer


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Rum Collective's 8th Meeting: Deco Rums at Local 360

Deco Coffee, Silver and Ginger Rums at Local 360
Local 360 is a restaurant that prides itself by living up to its name. They serve local food and drink sourced within a 360 mile radius of Seattle. Simple, sustainable and green are admirable goals. Sounds challenging right? Let's consider rum, a spirit historically produced in tropical climates like the Caribbean. A little too far away. What about local rum? Washington State laws have made it nearly impossible to produce rum here due to raw ingredient requirements. This makes serving rum at Local 360 more difficult still. However, and luckily for us, our more craft distillery-friendly neighbor, Oregon, makes rum and pretty good rum at that! Eastside Distilling, a new small batch distillery located in Portland's historic district (175 miles away) is producing an eye-catching line of rums under the name Deco, which are already winning awards.

Local 360 Tasting Room
In the back of their restaurant and bar area, a private space decorated with local art and filled with candles awaits us. The swashbuckling rum drinkers who fill the room on this weeknight set a fine example of what is important. That being Rum. Priorities right? Healthy sized tasting samples are poured and several different plates of chef's appetizers are brought out. Time to support local!

Honey Bee Cocktail with Deco Ginger Rum
Prepared by Paul Ritums
Greeting cocktails are served. The Honey Bee is refreshing and spirit forward. Deco Ginger Rum's natural ginger flavor holds up well and pairs nicely with honey and soda. Paul Ritums, the bar manager at Local 360, constructed two cocktails exclusively for this event. Let's take a look at the first...

Honey Bee
1.5oz Deco Ginger Rum
0.5oz Spiced Honey Syrup
0.5oz Lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
Honey Cream Soda (top off)
Garnish: Lemon twist
by Paul Ritums

The chef's appetizers didn't last long. It is no secret fresh ingredients taste better and Local 360 isn't shy about it. Combine these morsels with some hand crafted cocktails and it's only a matter of time. In minutes, plate after plate were left empty. I pause and recall the proverbial mention of some people after drinking; that they need some food to soak up all the alcohol. Those who broke bread in The Rum Collective have a different saying; needing some rum to soak up all of this food!!


The Rum Collective Tasting
The tasting commenced with Deco Silver Rum moving on to their Ginger Rum and ending with their Coffee Rum. The Silver Rum is made from fermented molasses and is the base spirit for their each of their expressions. I am told their Ginger Rum is made from infusing ginger root for a certain time period. Its taste is not of the overly hot or sweet kind, but captures a rich essence of natural ginger with a spicy finish. Their Coffee Rum received a Silver Medal at the 2011 San Francisco Spirits Competition and is made by combining a local coffee blend from Arabica beans (a secret recipe from one of Portland's Coffee Roasters) giving it a robust, natural coffee flavored spirit, with caffeine. Seattle's espresso loving palates have no problem appreciating this. To complete the tasting, a bottle of Deco's newly released Gold Rum was opened and enjoyed.

The closing cocktail of the meeting featured Deco Coffee Rum. All who fancy flavors of coffee, rum, or port and the smooth caressing texture of egg white drinks, were in for a treat. Yum!

Portside Cocktail
1.5oz Deco Coffee Rum
0.25oz Port
0.5oz Orange Simple Syrup
1 Egg white
Garnish: 3 espresso beans
Finish: Flaming oils of orange peal over surface
by Paul Ritums

Portside Cocktail with Deco Coffee Rum
Prepared by Paul Ritums

One More Please!

Portside Cocktail with Deco Coffee Rum
Prepared by Paul Ritums

Cheers to Paul Ritums & Local 360 for their hospitality and dedication to locally sourced, quality food and great cocktails!

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