Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How Pusser’s Rum Became The Official Drink Of The British Royal Navy


     On the deck of HMS Fife, docked in Pearl Harbor, soldiers stood wearing black armbands as the sun rose on July 31, 1970. They looked somber , part formal, part grieving. Following a 21-gun salute, they held their glasses high, their last “tot”, and cried: “The Queen.” They tossed back the drink and threw the glasses into the blue water below. They were not alone.   Anchored near the International Dateline, HMS Fife was the last among the many British ships that lowered their oars for a moment to say goodbye to a tradition they had been following for around 300 years. Tot was the daily ration of rum the Royal British Navy had nursed in its long seafaring history.

     A British naval destroyer’s crew line up for an issue of rum after arriving safely at a port somewhere in England, 1941.  But the navy hardly figured in the scene when the drink took birth in the dark and sinister sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean some three and half centuries ago. Europe needed sugar in the 17th century. In plenty. And for planters from England, the vast, barren lands of the Caribbean islands looked perfect for growing sugarcane. As they made sugar from molasses, they stumbled across a more interesting by-product, thanks to the extreme heat and fermentation, rumbullian alias rum.   Prince William with a tot of rum


     The drink, which first quenched the thirst of workers and planters, eventually crossed the oceans to reach America and Europe. Demand increased, for sugar and rum. The planters needed workers who could be forced to work in such punishing conditions.   People in Africa were enslaved for it. As trade increased and money and merchandise floated in the ocean, traders attracted pirates. The water between the Caribbean and Europe turned red with violence. The traders had only one option — send an SOS to the British Royal Navy. The navy glided in, lured not only by the big money the traders offered but also by the dark liquid sloshing inside the barrels in their ships.  

     Till then, the English sailors had tried every drink they could get their hands on. Beer went stale during long voyages. Wine followed. French brandy was good for a while, but it turned anti-national once England fell out with France.  So rum fit into the role of the official drink of the British Royal Navy. It was a long honeymoon. The humid heat of the tropics could only be fought with some stiff drink. Add to that the squalid condition in the quarters below the decks where hundreds of sailors sweated away at the oars. The long tedious voyages needed some reprieve. Rum not only gave them that, but also imparted some sense of taste amid the cold porridge and salted meat that came in daily. They called the drink Pusser’s rum because the ship’s purser, for which, pusser is the slang for it was responsible for issuing the rum. Pusser’s became the original rum of the British Navy. But it did not take long for the British Navy to realize that if unchecked, the new habit could spell disaster to their authority on the seas. Meanwhile, the sailors suspected that the drink they were served had been watered down. They invented an ingenious method to prove its spirit. They poured a bit of their ration on gunpowder.   If it smolders and burned, it was proof. If it exploded, it was overproof, with a higher alcohol content. If nothing happened, the purser might himself be tossed into the sea. The term “proof strength” for alcohol originated from this suspicion of the daily ration of rum. Over the years, naval strength rum has become the stuff of legends.  Today you can taste many versions of the drink that served seamen for centuries, Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof, Pusser’s Rum Original Admiralty Blend, etc.   Produced from British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Guyana, Pusser’s is a blend of five stills. It is a veritable experience of Caribbean islands and cultures.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Havana Club Develops a New ‘Professional’ Range Formulated Specifically for Bartenders


      Cuban rum maker, Havana Club has developed a new and experimental range exclusively with bartenders in mind.  The Havana Club Professional Edition range, which has also been developed in collaboration with bartenders, was first unveiled at trade show Bar Convent Berlin a couple of weeks ago.  The first bottling in the small-batch series, Havana Club Professional Edition A, is the result of a collaboration with the Cuban Bartender Association as part of celebrations for Havana bar El Floridita’s 200th anniversary.  The white rum is a blend of three aged rum bases and pure aguardiente that has been matured in large oak barrels for up to four years. It is filtered using an “innovative approach that retains the character yet still lightening the color and palate”. 
     Havana Club Professional Edition B has been created in collaboration with cocktail authority Nick Strangeway. The rum is a blend that includes one component finished in smoky Islay whisky casks, along with three other Havana Club 7 Year Old rum bases.  “Since the launch of Havana Club 7 Year Old 40 years ago, we have been committed to inspiring bartenders to create new rum cocktail experiences and the Professional Edition range is our latest expression of this,” said Nick Blacknell, global marketing director at Havana Club International.  “It was through the world’s best mixologists that rum drinkers were introduced to the Daiquiri, Cancha and Mojito cocktails – we hope that our new range provides the inspiration, through new flavor profiles in rum, for bartenders to craft the next generation of authentic Cuban rum cocktails.”
     Further editions will be added to the Havana Club Professional Edition range in the future, created using input from leading bartenders. These will be made exclusively available to mixologists in selected cocktail bars around the world.   Havana Club previously experimented with smoky whisky casks for the creation of its Havana Club Tributo 2018 expression.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sometimes You Have That "Sinking Feeling"

     The Trip along the Rio Almendares outside of "Old Havana" I ran across this little boat that reminded me of so many boats that were in the path of Irma last year and Michael this year.  It is truly a sinking feeling that I really don't want to see repeated.



Saturday, October 20, 2018

Clairin Casimir Rhum is Being Recalled in the United States for Lead Contamination


What you need to know about the TTB’s recall of the Haitian eaux-de-vie
     Clairin Casimir rhum is facing a voluntary recall. One of a select number of clairins—an eaux-de-vie similar to white agricole rhums—produced in Haiti and distributed in the United States, the Casimir brand is being recalled due to the presence of lead. The distributor, MHW, based in Manhasset, New York, initiated the recall on Wednesday.

     The lead discovery came in response to a consumer complaint placed with the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) this summer. “The TTB receives consumer complaints on a regular basis,” says Tom Hogue, director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the TTB, all of which they investigate. Some of those complaints lead nowhere, suggests Hogue, while others end up in a recall. During this investigation, the TTB obtained a bottle of Clairin Casimir Rum from Vanderbilt Wine Merchants in Brooklyn, New York, on August 8, and analyzed it for the presence of prohibited materials. Upon determining that the Casimir had elevated lead levels of 138 parts per billion, they consulted with the FDA to determine whether lead at those levels, present within an alcoholic beverage, met the standard of being a health hazard.   On October 9, the TTB sent MHW a letter requesting their participation in a voluntary recall, which MHW initiated on October 10.
     While the value of 138 ppb sounds excessive, whether it meets the standard of high risk has—to some extent—to do with the delivery mechanism. Lead levels in apple juice, for example, which is commonly consumed by children face a lower threshold than lead levels in beverages whose consumption is limited to adults, according to the TTB. In 1993, the FDA established that lead levels should not exceed 80 ppb in juice packed in lead-soldered cans. Since then, Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food standards organization that establishes safe levels for the protection of consumers, further established a maximum level of 50 ppb for lead in ready-to-drink fruit juices.    In response to the TTB’s request for analysis, the FDA affirmed that the lead levels in Clairins Casimir posed a health risk, particularly for women of childbearing age and for any developing fetus that might be exposed. The TTB’s October 9 letter explains that, according to the FDA, the blood lead level (BLL) in pregnant women should be no higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter to limit lead exposure to a developing fetus, and that 12.5 micrograms of lead per day would achieve this 5 BLL. Per the FDA’s calculations, the 138 ppb of lead would result in an intake of 17 micrograms per day. It also stated that lead and alcohol—which can cause toxicity to the brain of a developing child—could also be more hazardous in combination than as separate parts.   According to Herbert Linge, president of Berling S.A., the bottler of the Casimir, the company has also tested the rum and found lead levels to be lower than those reported by the FDA and TTB, and within acceptable limits. They are currently awaiting additional testing results from California, where the rum is also in distribution. La Maison & Velier, the importer who first brought clairin to the U.S. and Italy, had the Casimir tested in Italy and also found lower lead levels. Those reports have been sent to the TTB.
     “The bottles are also completely within the parameters of European safety, so this is a U.S. recall only,” says Kate Perry, U.S. market manager for La Maison & Velier. Allowable lead levels in Europe are 150ppb, therefore, the recall is limited to the U.S.   For now, bartenders and retailers should remove any Clairin Casimir from inventory. MHW is encouraging consumers who have bottles to call 516-869-9170 ext. 306 for instructions on returns and reimbursement.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum Best European Spirit / Bar Product at Mixology Bar Awards 2019 in Berlin


      Just released a few months ago, Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum has won its first Best European Spirit/Bar Product at the Mixology Bar Awards 2019 in Berlin.  The Mixology Bar Awards is the kickoff to Bar Convent Berlin, considered the world’s largest bar-focused trade show. 
award:

     With Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum was a dive into the iconic culture that is unique to Jamaica rums.  Working with the complex flavors of overripe exotic fruits with an almost “animal intensity” this rum is a tribute to this ancestral culture of rum.  The name pays homage to the history of Jamaica and “Xaymica” the name that was given Jamaica originally by those that originally dwelled on the island.

     Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry revives the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary Jamaican “rum funk.” Plantation Xaymaca is a blend of rums distilled in the old John Dore pot still at Long Pond and the Vendome pot still at Clarendon, two legendary Jamaican distilleries, owned in part by Maison Ferrand, producer of Plantation Rums.   Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry is bottled at 43% ABV,86 proof, and a suggested price of $24.99.  It is available in the U.S. today.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Getting to Havana, a Great Part of the Journey

First Sight of Cuba From the Air

Baseball Field at a Factory
Amusement Park West of Havana
     We lifted off from Key West International Airport about 8:30 am banked to the right and we were off to Cuba.  The flight took close to an hour, which flew by very quickly and out the side window I noticed the Cuban coastline.   As we began our approach to Jose Marti Airport, I began to notice a lot of things on the ground as we dropped out of the clouds for our final approach.

Heading to Work
Getting to Work is Interesting
     After landing, we got aboard a car and headed from the airport to Havana.  The trip on the ground was as interesting as the flight.  People headed to bus stops and driving down the road headed for work.  Everything from cars, buses, horse drawn carts, scooters or walking; they do what they have to do to get to their jobs like we have to in the United States.

Waiting for the Bus
Traffic is beginning to Build as we Approach Havana
     It took almost as long to get from the airport to Havana as it did to get to Cuba in the first place.  The trip was an eyeful as we were in a traffic jam most of the way.  The part that makes the trip the most interesting is what you find on the road.  It is like we went through a time warp to 1959 and the cars and transportation seems to be like it was back then.  Once we got to Havana, the fun began, a story I'll fill you in on on a later date.

Arriving in Downtown Havana With the Jose Marti Memorial in Front of Us






Wednesday, October 17, 2018

United States Supreme Court to Revisit the Issue of Interstate Wine and Spirits Shipping

United States Supreme Court

     For the first time in more than a decade, the U.S. government has shown a willingness to reevaluate how wine and spirits are sold, both within and between various states in the country.  In fact, the case of Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Clayton Byrd (Tenn. v. Byrd) represents only the second such move by the high court since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.  When Prohibition was repealed, the U.S. government decided that the safest way to regulate alcohol sales was by giving each state the right to decide how wine and spirits were sold within its borders. That resulted in a fractured legal arrangement in which almost every state handled the sale and shipment of drinks differently.

     Whether major retailers will be able ship into adjoining states, or across the country, as a result of this case is the most important question that will be answered by the Court’s judgment. Its ruling will define consumer access to wine and potentially provide more competitive pricing.  Retailers may soon be able to ship into more states depending on how the court votes. This is all contingent on whether, “the case is upheld in the Supreme Court and if the states start to pass amendments to their direct shipping laws.”   “Retailers have long been saying this principle of nondiscrimination should apply to them as well as wineries. It seems to me impossible that the Court will not answer this question in the coming case. If the court applies the principles of Granholm to retailers, then many states will need to change their laws and decide if they want out-of-state retailers to ship.

     However, whatever changes the court case may bring will take some time to implement. “The change won’t be immediate. States would still need to adopt legislation and regulations to allow for shipping, delivery, and collection of taxes.” 

     The outcome of this case will make a huge difference in the wine, beer and spirits business.  For the consumer, it is a chance to get a hold of brands and expressions that have not been available to get in their home town or state.  I for one,  have to travel many miles to get some of the rums that I enjoy.  If it was like everything else in this country, that I need I just order it on line and it is delivered to me even here in Key West.