Friday, July 20, 2012

Seattle Rumdrops: Playing Roulette at Canon

For this week's mouth watering adventure, we visit Canon. Although Seattle's days have appeared bright in the past week drying up all the rain, (yes folks, Seattle does receive sunlight) you may not have noticed the Sun in the midst of all the limelight coming from media reports about our beloved Canon. A dedicated and rather decorated staff reminds both their regulars and one-time visitors that Art of the Bar is not just to be viewed on a coffee table, but can be sipped and savored, one cocktail at a time. You need only step inside. Upon entering, you will find a cocktail menu, not littered with drinks, but simple and with purpose. Sure, they have only a handful of rum-based cocktails as a "whiskey and bitters emporium", but what is not there in quantity, they make up for in quality. No, I must elaborate or take back that descriptor entirely. For "quality" is quite vague, overused, and too, well, how should I put it, boring. The showmanship in each offering is elevating, in mood and in spirit. Moreover, the effect Canon has on its patrons, has been called or may be known to some as raising the bar! Some say, ordering this or that classic drink, is a good test of a bartender's skills. I agree and although knowing the way around classic cocktails is important, I would up the ante if placing a bet on Canon. Here, the tender-hearted gents behind the bar know their way, not only through their impressive selection of spirits, but around each customer's tastes and mood as they present. Don't believe me? Go there for a drink. To put my money where my mouth so wanted to be, I did exactly this. I noticed a cocktail on the menu titled, shrouded roulette. The description below it reads,"tell us your base spirit and we'll create the mystery". If you have ever played Roulette at a casino, then you know the deal; you can't win if you don't play. So, I ordered it, calling out Ron Diplomatico as my base spirit. Ask and you shall receive! (see photo). When I asked the bartender, Jared, what was in the drink, he replied that he built an Old Cuban with Diplomatico Añejo. The Añejo works well and does justice to this fabulous libation created by cocktail diva Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club. So, go down and grab a seat where every table is hot, opening at $10 a hand. Winning!!


PS - You may also notice that Canon's cocktails, instead of casting a shadow as expected, illuminate the bar counter in more than one way (see photo)

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Rum Collective's 9th Meeting: Rhum Dzama at Liberty

I heard someone say, "There is rum in Madagascar? Yes, and more specifically, rhum, the French spelling, denoting the primary language spoken there. Exotic in origin and delightful to the senses, this African Rhum made its Washington debut in our meeting at Liberty. Not unfamiliar to The Rum Collective, this Capital Hill favorite is often admired for its amiable private room, devotion to quality cocktails and spirit enthusiast hosts with the most, Andrew Friedman and Keith Waldbauer.

Dzama Rhum Punch
Prepared by Keith Waldbauer
Keith, co-owner of Liberty, is notorious for his impromptu-style cocktail recipes. He adds a little of this, a little of that, tastes and repeats and voilà! A friendly greeting cocktail of rhum punch featuring one of Rhum Dzama's "evolving" expressions is ready in minutes. Yum!! In Dzama's Vanilla Rhum, a whole vanilla bean pod from Madagascar is added in during bottling, imparting its character and changing the rhum's flavor profile over time in the bottle. This concept, although not new, is uncommon in the world of rum today, offering an all-natural advantage over many flavored or synthetic products on the market and slowly maturing with time. Not to mention, it looks cool! (see photo)

Dzama Rhum Punch
Muddled orange
Domaine Bernier Unoaked Chardonnay
House Cardamom Tincture

The rhum punch aroused the taste buds and soon after, the formal tasting ensued. The small size of the group at this meeting allowed for more intimate discussion and an interactive tasting experience. Five different Dzama Rhums were tasted from light to dark in the following order; Cuvee Blanche Prestige, Blanc Nosy-Be 42% (whites), Cuvee Noire Prestige, Ambre Nosy-Be 52% (aged) and the Vanilla Rhum Ambre. Dzama Rhum originates from Nosy-Be, the island just northwest of Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel. Ironically, Nosy-Be means big island in Malagasy language, despite being fairly small in size compared to Madagascar. More significant than the island's size is the terrior in which the sugar cane is grown. It is grown on volcanic soil and surrounded by areas full of highly aromatic plants, such as Ylang-ylang vines, cloves, vanilla and pepper plants. These plants proximity to the sugar cane and their influence on the ground water is an important distinction. Ylang-ylang vines are famous for their essential oils, used in many famous perfumes such as Chanel No. 5. It is reported that these oils give this rhum its beautiful bouquet of aromas. Not surprisingly, Nosy-Be was given the nickname "scented island" centuries ago. Many present at the meeting found the fragrant nature of the white rhums brilliantly floral and lovely; enough to dab a bit on the wrists as perfume. These rhums are unique and prompted the interest of many present. Questions surrounding the readily apparent differences between the Cuvee Prestige and Nosy-Be in both the white and aged rhums provoked some in-depth technical conversation and more rum drinking of course. The differences between the Cuvee Prestige and Nosy-Be aromas, flavor profiles and finishes seemed to be unexplained, even considering the differences in ABV. Note, these rhums are molasses-based and the aged products have seen the insides of French Limousin Oak and Johnny Walker Scotch barrels or some variation of that for between three and six months. At The Rum Collective meetings, we encourage questions involving rhum. We also encourage finding the answers. Nothing like the satisfaction of getting to the bottom of it, literally. Let the research continue!

The final cocktail was served in style...Liberty style. Orange peals were individually hand-carved into octopi garnishes. Yes and if you have been to Liberty, you will understand. Keith left this piece of art untitled.
Any suggestions?

Prepared by Keith Waldbauer

 1oz Dzama Rhum Cuvee Blanche
0.5oz Lemon juice (fresh pressed)
0.5oz Grapefruit juice (fresh pressed)

shake, strain and layer top with...
Garnish - Orange peal Octopus

Cheers to Keith and the staff at Liberty for their hospitality and some delicious cocktails!

A big thank you to Rhum Dzama for their support!

Addendum: Questions from members at the meeting were relayed to Rhum Dzama for clarification. Once we know the answers, we will share them here. Until then...stay calm and drink rhum.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Seattle Rumdrops: Naga's Vigoureux

Vigoureux at Naga Lounge
by Jason Saura
Junuary may be defined as that wet and 60's, gray cloud-covered weather that has persisted here in Seattle for the past six months. Ready for a change yet? Well, we're back this week to kick off the dry season with a rhum cocktail sure to instill some liquid sunshine into your day, just in case you missed the rare event happening outside. As you know, happiness in this season need not be dry!

Built with awesome, this cocktail features two base liquors. The contrasting flavor profiles of Rhum J.M. VSOP and Hennessy V.S. Cognac fill the mouth like two melodies striking a perfect Bach-like counterpoint balance. The aromas of bitters and citrus unveil a rich cognac coating the mouth. Then, the delicate floral bouquet of an aged Rhum Agricole arises shaping the experience with latent accents. This libation satisfies expectations of a long and dreamy extended finish often found in sipping aged rhum agricoles or cognacs neat. First, the cocktail glass is blessed with drops of a French Absinthe, followed by a simple measure of Rhum J.M. Sirop de Canne à Sucre and the oils of a lemon at the end. The indication of thoughtful, quality craftsmanship is apparent. Jason Saura, bar manager at Chantanee's Naga Lounge informs us he originally created it using Rhum Clément V.S.O.P. (in place of Rhum J.M.) and wanted to create a cocktail using all French ingredients for Rhum Clément's 125th Anniversary Cocktail Challenge. It will be featured on the upcoming menu but don't hesitate to go ask Jason for a round and all the yummy details today!