Sunday, September 23, 2012

Seattle's Rumba: A Sneak Preview pt. 2

 Painting of the Caribbean
by Bruce Smith
Cont. from Part 1...
On my way to the bar, I pause and look back at a painting, an original mind you, with a small photo of Ernest Hemingway at the lower left corner. Nice! The Cuban-styled character of Rumba takes shape. Travis Rosenthal, owner of Rumba, tells me much of its design elements, from the wooden bar to the menu cocktails, are influenced by Hemingway and the famous Cuban bar he frequented, El Floridita. Immaculate and dreamy dark wood interiors contrast up against brilliant tourquise-colored seats. These all too comfy leather apolostered bar stools and booths sporting brass buttons are reminiscent of seats from straight out of the 1950s. One thing is clear from the quality of Rumba's interior design and layout, the owner left little to chance and the results are rumtastic!

Captain's Table
Plantation 20th Anniversary & Plantation 1998 Guadeloupe

My eyes, driven by an appetite for rum, move from the decorations to something more serious, the bar. A quick note to readers: if, no, let me rephrase, when on the upper level of seating, stop for a view from what I will call the Captain's Table. Fit for two, it provides the option of immediate attention from the bartender, just as a bar seat, but affords an elevated and somewhat regal view above it all. Sit and be seen! I did and didn't mind the view at all. Yum!

Perhaps, you came with a small group looking for a private booth but still want to ogle the "Wall of Rum". No worries! There are cozy booths lining the front entrances giving you the full panoramic as you sip your cocktails. The view is stunning!


"Wall of Rum"

Blue Marlin

Plantation Barbados 5yr Grand Réserve

Blue Marlins, Sailboats and Rum!
Got a copy of The Old Man and the Sea?

The path to the long beautifully shaped wooden bar seemed natural and without difficulty. I may have even skipped a little! At some bars, one needs to see the menu to look at the rum options; at Rumba, one needs just raise their head and look up at all the heavenly glory! So I paused, and thought to myself, WWHD? (What Would Hemingway Do?) Naturally, a classic daiquiri came to mind, but I was tempted to see their best and so my request was made. Best, you say? Asked that question, my answer might go something like this: With Rum, there is no "best", no "favorite". However, within this most diverse spirit, there is always one thing; a perfect choice to fit every occasion. What was their answer? My dear readers, let me share their response or rather illustrate it with a few photos. They lined up a selection that only few have witnessed at one time. The beauty and diversity of some of the most premium rum (and cachaça) from all across the earth displayed in all of its majesty across their bar.

Deciding on which seat, now, that was the problem!

Rumba's Bar
(left side view)

Nice Pineapples!

Kate Perry, General Manager

Oh. My.

Rumba's Bar
(right side view)


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Rum Collective's 10th Meeting: A Review

Ron Arehucas Carta Oro & Ron Miel
Tango's Rooftop Terrace
Sun-filled blue skies, a rooftop terrace above the city and copious amounts of Rum made for a perfect setting at our 10th meeting. Set above Tango, one of Seattle's coolest Spanish Restaurants, we gathered to welcome the full line of rums from the Spanish Canary Islands - Ron Arehucas. The meeting offered attendees craft cocktails, tapas and a formal tasting experience of some fantastic rums. Here is how it went down...

Greeting Cocktail
A greeting cocktail is not only good social etiquette, but a meeting ritual. On a hot day, the garden fresh aromas of mint, rum and chilled bubbly do it right. Check out this refreshing cocktail with Ron Arehucas Carta Oro.

Greeting Cocktail
by Connor O'Brien

1.75oz Ron Arehucas Carta Oro
0.5oz pineapple syrup
0.5oz lime juice (fresh pressed)
10 Mint leaves
Topped with Champagne

A quick photo-op of our lovely hosts...

Kate Perry & Connor O'Brien

Let the tasting begin!

The Islas Canaries are located almost 100 miles off the Northwest coast of Africa. Although Ron Arehucas's entrance into the US market is recent news, the history of sugar and rum making on Gran Canaria, the largest island, is not. In fact, these islands have a signifcant place in the history of rum making overall. Christopher Colombus on his 2nd voyage in 1493, brought with him sugar cane samplings from the islands of Madeira, Canary and Azores to plant in Brazil and Hispaniola. Shortly after the Caribbean was a sugar cane growing mecca. Sugar cane and its uses continued to flourish in the Canary Islands and on August 9th, 1884, La Fabrica opened. Less than a decade later, on July 4th, 1892, Queen Maria Christina of Austria bestowed on them the title, "Provider of the Royal Family" due to the quality and fame of their products. This, of course included, sugar and sugar cane spirits. It wasn't until the year 1940, when founder, Alfredo Martin Reyes, began making the Rum, at Destlleria Arucas, that we now know today as Ron Arehucas.

Carta Blanco, Carta Oro and Ron Miel
Ron Arehucas
We started the first half of the tasting with Ron Arehucas Blanco,  followed by the Carta Oro and finished with the Ron Miel.

Jason Montgomery
President of Copa Spirits
A special guest and President of Copa Spirits,
Jason Montgomery, was present to lead us through the first three expressions. Not only did he give us some insight about the brand, the present importation of Ron Arehucas and his future plans, he brought some great rum! Jason informs us all of these rums are made from sugar cane juice. The Carta Blanco and Oro are slightly lower strengths (37.5% ABV) than each of the aged expressions (40% ABV) and give an expected performance with a few comments. Overall, they were light, mixable with a characteristic flavor. However, when our lips reached the final glass full of Ron Miel, a blend of Ron Arehucas 7yr and honey, the flavor pay load was tremendous. Jason tells us it contains 2% bee's honey. Someone said, "tall, dark and sweet", is how I like'em and at 20% ABV it's attractive for sure! Yum!!

Bring out the Madrid Platters!

Spanish style tapas are a must at Tango, not bad with Spanish Rum either...

7 Select and 12yr Reserva Especial
Ron Arehucas
The second half of the tasting commenced with much interest. Three aged expressions from Ron Arehucas not yet available in the country, let alone Seattle. We begin the tasting with the 7 Select Rum. The charm of the old world bottle styles with spirits increasing in complexity created a romantic sunset experience. Very few reviews exist on the aged rums, however, there is a solid review on Rum Gallery, discussing the Reserva Especial. Tastings including multiple different aged expressions offer comparative learning. By tasting each sequentially, a better understanding of how the age differences (interacting with American Oak) affect the aromas, flavors and finish can be appreciated.

What we have all been waiting for...Capitan KIDD!

Capitan KIDD 20yr
Ron Arehucas

A ceramic bottle with a black satin finish makes its way around. It's short, stout and wide bottom fit in your hand like it was made to pour straight from the hip. The top of the hard wood closure above the cork is embellished with a metal inlay displaying the image of the famous pirate/privateer Captain KIDD. This isn't meant to be a formal review, but its aromas, seemingly infinite layers of flavor nuances and goodbye forever finish leave no doubt in my mind why people spend their lives perfecting a blend or creating a piece of art. Rumlove!

The party on the roof continues with some rather dreamy cocktail artistry courtesy of Connor O'Brien.

Closing Cocktail
by Connor O'Brien

Closing Cocktail
by Connor O'Brien

0.5oz Ron Miel
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Lemon twist garnish

Cocktails are served and look beautiful!

Closing Cocktail
(Joanna Schwartzkopf in background)

A big thank you to Jason Montgomery for his support!

Cheers to Kate Perry, Connor O'Brien and the staff at Tango for their hospitality!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Seattle's Rumba: A Sneak Preview

Rumba & Tango
Pike St., Seattle
Perhaps you have heard the good news; perhaps not. Let me share with you the gospel we speak. This week, a new bar opens in Seattle like no other we have seen here. That's right folks, it's all about Rum! Travis Rosenthal, owner of Tango (see photo), steps forward to offer Seattle a taste of the Caribbean with Rumba, his Cuban styled bar. Not to miss this monumental event, we managed to find ourselves fortunate enough to have a peak around and sit at the bar as the finishing touches were made.

Here is a first look before the doors were open!

I enter to find open shutters with a view...

After a glance, imagery of turquoise waters and Caribbean Rum shacks flood the memory.

Beautifully ornate leaf fans on pulley systems adorn the ceiling....Old Havana?

I think so...

Thoughtfully decorated, tastefully displayed decor of the Caribbean lead me to...

a short word from Wayne Curtis.

After reading in full agreement, thirst leads and I made my way to the bar.

Stay tuned for the next post!

Seattle's Rumba: A Sneak Preview pt. 2