Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rumstylin' at Kelly's Caribbean Bar-Grill & Brewery

     Kelly's Caribbean Bar-Grill & Brewery opened in 1991 when "Top Gun" actress Kelly McGillis and then husband Fred Tillman purchased the property.     The building, Pan-Am's ticket office, originally located where the "Pier House" is today, but it was moved to it's present location in the late 1920's.    It later became a trading post and during the 1980's a very small restaurant and piano bar called the "Pigeon Patio".     Located at the Corner of Whitehead and Caroline Streets, Kelly's today is one of most significant historic buildings here in Key West.    

     Kelly's is well known as being the birthplace of Juan Trippe's Pan American World Airways.     Having made his first airmail service flight from Key West to Havana on October 19, 1927.     The rest of the story is history.     Historic photographs cover the walls of the "Crash Bar" giving the visitors a feeling for what has gone before.    Even the bar tells volumes about the place with it's Sikorsky Seaplane crashing through the roof and the aluminum wing bar top.     What a perfect place to serve the "Pan-Am Panic" their signature frozen cocktail.

     The huge trees that form the canopy over the main garden, provide a dining experience second to none.     As you walk down to the cobble stone patio and are seated you can really feel the Caribbean atmosphere take you far away from the ordinary.     The chefs today are still dishing up some of the finest meals available in Key West.     Indoor dining is also available along with room for the largest of parties and wedding receptions.

     This place never seems to stop providing services that brings both locals and tourist to the door.     One of the best "happy hours" in Key West serving wings that are hard to beat any where along with the micro brew  ales all created on the property by their own brew master from the finest of malted barley, hops, water, and yeast all combined and blended into three tasty treats: "Havana Red, Key West Golden, and Southern Clipper Wheat".      In addition to the micro brews there is a full service bar that serves shill and frozen cocktails.

     Long before moving to Key West, my wife and I used to fly down here and our long time favorite place to have dinner was of course Kelly's Caribbean.     One Friday evening we flew from Daytona after the day at the race track was over and proceeded down to Key West to have dinner, Daytona was getting old.     We boarded our plane along with one of my friends and proceeded to Key West had dinner and returned to Daytona.     The dinner was spectacular and the flight was a great break in the action from the Daytona 500 week.     Today we only have to jump on the scooter and we are there, but it is still one of my favorites.    ;o)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kilo Kai: Created by a Knight and the Pride of Curacao's

     Don Leanez, was the guy that started distilling rum on Curacao, a little island in the Southern Caribbean.     Don was said to have been knighted by a Dutch queen for the work he did for the island.     Like hes grand father and his father before him Angelo, the master distiller at Kilo Kai loves the rum and the challenge of making fine rums for today's market. 

     Careful attention to the distillation process is a big part of what makes this a special spiced rum.     The ability to separate the "heart of the distillate from everything else" is just one of the attributes of this rum.   The scents and flavors of vanilla, Cinnamon, and nutmeg are right in front of you as you approach the glass.    When the rum passes over the palate, the flavors explode and the semi-sweet well balanced taste passes to a smooth and pleasant finish.

     The rum is matured in oak barrels for three years giving it ti's golden brown color.     This is a rum that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed in a cocktail, any way you choose it it is a rum that needs to be in your spiced rum collection.     ;o)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Denizen: to embody Liberation,Rebellion and Bravery

     The name really tells the story of Denizen Rum.     According to the makes of this real unique white rum, it is aimed toward "people coming of age who abandon the traditional path to adulthood.     Theirs is a fearless path, one which they seek new things, explore new places, and exercise more choices.     They are the new rebel, but with a cause to find their own way in life on their own terms."     Denizen is the rum that is blended with these rebels in mind.   

     Denizen is the brainchild of master blender E.A. Scheer from Amsterdam, Based on an average 5 year old Angostura Distillery  rum, pot still rums from Jamaica.     These components blend to give this white rum a full bodied flavor that you don't usually find in white rums.     The molasses aromas lead to a light taste that develops more complex flavors and finishes in a medium long, smooth and warmness.

     The Denizen Phoenix Daiquiri is the signature drink when you think of Denizen as a mixing rum.     This unique recipe includes Denizen Rum, St. Germain, apple juice, lime juice and simple syrup.     The flavors melt together and yields a magnificent cocktail.     If you are looking for more out of your cocktails try Denizen in any other cocktail that calls for a white rum.     My mojito's take on new depth when Denizen is the rum of choice.     I've also found that it mixes well with coconut water or a blend of coconut water and pineapple juice.     Your imagination is the only limiter as to what you can create with this fine whit rum.

     Readily available on line from and other retailers, you have no excuses for not trying this fine white rum.     ;o)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Morning Muse

A Good Boss and Good Rum
 I'm a man with simple needs and among these are Good friends, a Good Boss , Good Music, People having fun all around me, and a bottle of really Great Rum.    

Good Music

Good Friends

People having fun all around you, there is nothing better.
                                                                       The only other thing I need is the time to enjoy all of this.     I try to do it daily, and most of the time I'm successful.     ;o)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Kraken, That is Rumstylin

     The Kraken is one of the newest additions to the spiced rum arena.     This one is unique on many fronts, first the fact that is a "Black Rum" and secondly the ingenious marketing of the product.     The Kraken is the buzz word around our Key West bars these days.     The whole concept of putting a "Beast in your belly" is really fun and appealing to a lot of young and old partyers alike.    

     With the pirates and rum idea in full swing, the Kraken was a legendary beast that ravaged pirates and ships in some form or another all the way back to the days of Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.    "Arrrrrrr, "release the Kraken" is the call in our bar as we pour this wonderful  spiced rum as a float or as a drink.     The bottle is of the old pirate jug style that just lures you to reach out and grab it by one of the "ear-lobe handles and pour.      Everything about the package is done with a fun "tongue in cheek" chuckle except the rum.
The TV ad is more of the same fine creativity that is taking 'The Kraken" forward in rapid fashion 

(     This is why "The Kraken" is the nations fastest growing rum brand.
     Kraken is a really nice black rum from Trinidad -Tobago, with a blend of vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and other spices that seem to complement the flavor of the rum rather than covering it up.     The subdued aroma is the weakness in the product, but you know you have found a real rum when it hits your palate.    The finish is spicy and still retains the flavor of the rum.    Oh by the way this sea monster has a kick too, 94 Proof kick.     It really doesn't matter how you drink this rum you will feel the "beast in your belly".      Get out and enjoy it you won't be disappointed.     ;o)


Friday, March 25, 2011

Key West Rum Summit Meetings

     Yesterday was one of the banner days in rum diplomacy here in Key West.    Rob Burr, Mike Streeter, and myself all together at the Hurricane Hole to talk about and drink a little bit of rum.        The summit meeting lasted until the wee hours of the evening and much I think was accomplished.     I remember talking about rum stuff and the up and coming Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, and the possibility of a new event here in Key West, and the further development of the Rum Cruise in November, but after that the rest became a bit fuzzy.

     The Hurricane Hole is an appropriate venue for such a summit meeting, because of the beautiful waterfront setting of the bar and restaurant.     The bright and sunny evening sky's make a perfect setting to discuss rum and rum promotion.     Paul our soon to be "Papa" and bartender made sure that our glasses were kept full as the meetings were reaching their critical levels.   

      As the sun set on the Hurricane Hole and negotiations started to ebb, we piled back into the dinghy and moved the proceedings back to my boat where we took up with some old business, Plantation Guyana, El Dorado 15 Year, some assorted Abuelo's, and small spot of cinnamon apple spirit.       It was during the old business part of the meetings where things started to become a bit fuzzy.     I think that we just said enough of the old business and we all nodded off.     Upon waking this morning it was noted that all was still in one piece everyone had all their stuff.     I guess that I have to call this a rumstylin Key West Summit and something that needs to occur more often to keep the rums of this world fresh in our minds and the economy of the rum world moving ahead.    ;o) 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rumstylin' at the Conch Inn Marsh Harbour

     One of the most friendly islands in the Bahamas is Abaco, with it's many cays and towns.     One of my favorite places to stay there is the Conch Inn in Marsh Harbour.     This warm resort offers the comfort of fine rooms, a complete marina, and of course "Curly Tails Restaurant and Bar".     I've spent many a weekend at the resort with friends that I brought with me as well as those I met there, and they are all very memorable for the fun that we had.    This resort sits on the water that leads to the "Crystal Sea" that takes you to Great Guana , Hopetown, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay and all the rest of the wonderful cays that make up the Abaco's.    

Curly Tails offers a full menu with fabulous seafood  dishes to tempt your pallet, and a great atmosphere as you look out offer the moored sailboats in the harbour.     There is indoor or outdoor dining to choose from, both have great views and great food.     The bar is my favorite, imagine that, having full service and bartenders that mix some of the best island drinks around.   The beautiful gardens and the calm laid back atmosphere makes this one of the centerpieces of the resort.

     The resort has a ferry dock where you can pick-up one of the Aubury Ferry's to take you almost anywhere in the Abaco's right from the resort marina just out back.     They also have a wide selection of rental boats of all sizes and types to fit your needs.   The Moorings has many boats there at the marina as well.     The ship's store is also well stocked with the necessities for a day on the water in the Abaco's.     Whether you bring your boat in or rent, this is a great central location from which to explore the "Crystal Sea" and the outer cays of the Abaco's.

    I've had the privilege to follow the "Barefoot Man's" song and been "Conched Out at the Conch Inn" just a few times, but I always have to smile when I think about my visits to the resort.   ;o)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rumstylin out with Mike Streeter

Mike at the Cockspur Beach Club in Barbados
      Who's Mike Streeter you ask?     He is a good friend and a Chicago born purveyor of rum and other cane spirits.     This former fund raiser has lived all over the world and visited many other places as an ambassador for cane spirits.     This is a real Rumstyler if there ever was one.     He is some of those people who is never without a friend even in a new environment.   Today he is in semi-retirement having too much fun here in Key West, Florida.

Mike at a "photo opp"
                                                  Mike is the owner of the very successful  a website that is dedicated to rum and all the events and happenings that bring us closer to those events.     He also publishes a booklet that is circulated around Key West called "Drink Up Key West".     If there is a rum event here in Key West, you can bet that he will be involved in it and the event will be wildly successful.     Mike as a member of Rum XP, a group of rum specialists that travel world-wide in order to promote rum and judge them for rum tasting events, Mike's opinion on cane spirits is widely looked upon and a source of first rate information.

Mike and Mike with the "Green Elvis"
      I recently went out to observe the world of night time Key West with Mike on a "fact finding mission" to discover how people function during a "super moon".     The evening was just a laugh a minute as we arrived by dinghy at Schooner Wharf Bar and then after hanging there for a while, went downtown to Duval Street.     Streeter on Duval Street is an event that you just don't want to miss, we even found Elvis in Green, hiding his face, but getting two thumbs up from Mike anyway.    

     The best thing is no matter what we are involved with it is a fun event and generally very successful, either as a business venture or just plain fun event.     Stop by his web site and get a rumstylin education.   ;o)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rumstylin with Cockspur Rums

     Cockspur Rum was originally founded by Valdemar Hanschell in 1884.    This Danish descendant came to Barbados via the Virgin Islands, where he had worked in the shipping industry.      After settling in Barbados, he founded a ship chandlery that supplied ropes, sails, salt, fresh fruit, meat, and did you have to guess, rum to visiting ships.     The popularity of the Cockspur Rum grew he first took on a partner and became Hanschell Larson, then as the business grew internationally there was a merger that formed Hanschell Inniss.     This company stills blends and bottles Cockspur today in Barbados.

     Rum's origins reach back to the 1630's when Dutchman Pieter Blower brought the first sugar cane plants from Brazil.     By the 1640's sugar plantations and factories were growing and molasses (the residue of the Sugar process) was being fermented and distilled into a spirit called "Kill Devil".     This was made in simple pot stills that sprang up next to the wind driven sugar mills and helped make the plantation owners wealthy.     By 1650 over 200,000 gallons of this rum was being produced.     "Rum Bullion" was the first recorded use of the word rum as a name for this kill devil, and an unknown visitor to Barbados shortened the name to "Rum" and the rest is history.    

     Today in Barbados at the West Indies Rum Distillery the traditions of Hanschell and his partners the rums are fermented, distilled aged and bottled.     Following that tried and true formulas that make these fine heritage rums what they are is how Cockspur has reclaimed their brand and brought it back to the forefront of fine rums.     Several of the members of Rum XP were granted a tour and visitation to witness how Cockspur  is created.     The continuous fermentation, distilling, blending of both light column distilled and heavier pot distilled spirits, and the aging process that has brought Cockspur back to the market as a fine rum.

     The warm and friendly visitor's center is a great addition and the store provides the opportunity to purchase and sample some of the products that they are so proud of.   The rest of the story is the addition of  Cockspur VSOR to the line up.     This is a very fine rum that is comparable with many of the finest rums on the market.     Cockspur VSOR, Five Star, and Old Gold are the big three in the Cockspur line and available here in the United States.  

     As a member of the Rum XP's and a guest of Cockspur and the West Indies Rum Distillery, I'd like to thank all who were a part of allowing us there for the tour and the tasting of their fine rums.   ;o)


Monday, March 21, 2011

Key West St. Patrick's Day Bar Stroll

     It all started around noon on Saturday and by 4:30 ish most of the revelers were crawling.     This is one of the really fun Key West annual events.     You buy a T-Shirt for $30.00 and that is your ticket to a "high time" on Saturday afternoon.     How popular is this event, well the shirts were sold out by Thursday ( The actual St. Paddy's Day), and scalpers and others were organizing their own crawls.     This is one of the biggest that I've seen in my years here in the Keys.

     The organizers have really done an unbelievable job of promotion and selling of this event this year.     I think that the locals were just ready for a good blow-out afternoon, judging from the number of locals in costume for the stroll.     Everyone was smiling and carrying on, just cutting loose and having a really fun afternoon. 

     The procession went from participating bar to participating bar until they reached the Schooner Wharf Bar and the end of the procession.     That was the start of the real party for some, while others were "finished" when they arrived at the end of the stroll.     They started out at the Southernmost Beach Cafe, then to the Southernmost Tiki Bar, then headed on down Duval Street to Sweet Teas, Cowboy Bill's, Ilona's Garden Cafe, Kelly's Caribbean Bar, The Bull, The Whistle Bar, The Garden of Eden, Rick's Key West, and finally to the Historic Waterfront and the Schooner Wharf Bar.     This doesn't include several of the other stops many of the strollers made at the Rum Bar for instance, as we were completely swamped with "Green People" as they waited to get into Sweet Tea's across the street.   

     The "professionals" were undaunted by the end of the trail and partied on back to Duval Street and joined the "Super Moon" party going on as the moon rose over Key West.     I guess that when you are on vacation and feel the need to party and you don't want to see it end, you just let 'er rip.     That is a part of any good rumstyler's creed, party til you don't feel you can party any more. 

     By the way this sold-out event raised a lot of money for Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys and the Boys & Girls club of Key West.    Rick Dostal, another terrific job of organizing, promoting, and carrying off this your 35th annual St. Patrick's Day Bar Stroll.     ;o)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Super Moon is Past and the World Still Exists.

     I guess that the gloom and doom folks failed again, and the world did not come to an end on the Super Moon.     The thing that did happen was a lot of people got out and partied into the wee hours and really enjoyed themselves here in Key West.       The Mike, Mike, and Bob brigade left the "Mother Ship" in the dinghy and headed for Schooner Wharf to search for the "End of the World" and only found a great time.     Most of the people we ran into were having way too much fun to be worried about the world coming to an end, so we kept searching.   

      The worries of the combination of a St Patrick's Day Bar Stroll and  the "Super Moon" only produced a bunch of revelers that overcame the bad spirits of the "Super Moon" and balanced the universe to have  a gala evening.     I guess in the larger scheme of things the earth does rely on balance and having the two events simultaneously was really a good thing.   

     Tomorrow I'll cover the St. Patrick's day Bar Stroll with some pictures and stories that I observed from behind the bar yesterday.     It is absolutely amazing what rumstylin on a St. Patricks Day Bar Stroll can discover.    

     The good news is that the world survived and I'll be able to keep inundating you with these stories.     ;o)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In My World it's All About the Water

 If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this article is already written.    Here in Key West we are a little bit slower in the way we move, but we truly do know how to enjoy our time.    

This was about as laid back and lazy as I know how to be, so enjoy the voyage.     ;o)