Friday, May 31, 2013

Angostura dropping 10 Cane and Foursquare Distillery will Be the New Producer

     Angostura has made the decision to drop the contract with Moet Hennessey for the production of 10 Cane Rum.   In a statement issued by Angostura, "After almost a decade working with Moet Hennessey, Angostura decided not to renew the contracts since it did not bring the returns necessary to continue the business."   It seems that part of the 10 Cane operations were actually closed for a few years because of insufficient demand for the rum.

     Sir David Seale, Chairman of Foursquare Distillery in Barbados said at the announcement of the contract, "It is Barbados gain over Trinidad and Tobago".   Barbados Industry Minister, Donville Inniss said, "Barbados is not a low-cost location for manufacturing and as a result the have to tap into the niche areas, rum is a product that is synonymous with Barbados and they will have to exploit fully the rum industry.

Richard L. Seale
     Foursquare Distillery Managing Director Richard L. Seale said, "The future development of Barbados partly rested on the rum industry and the contract with Moet Hennessey could result in many indirect jobs, increased economic activity and between 10% and 30% more exports.  "This product has a short potential to sell in the region of two to three-hundred thousand cases and to become a major global brand when you want it to sell a million cases."

    10 Cane Rum was first introduced in Trinidad and Tobago in 2005.  The name comes from the fact that it is made from first pressing sugar cane in stead of molasses.    It is said that it takes 10 stalks of sugar cane to make each bottle of 10 Cane Rum and thus the idea behind the name.   This is a true premium white rum and now being produced at one of the truly innovative and quality distilleries of the world.   This should be great association.   ;o)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ocumare Anejo Especial: Fine Rum from Venezuela

     Ocumare is a line of fine rums made in Ocumare du Tuy, Venezuela, a location they have being producing traditional rums from since 1950.    The company originated in Caracus in 1938, but by 1950 they grew to the point where they needed to improve the equipment and needed more space.

     The skills of master distiller and bottler Andres Colmenares comes clearly through when you taste this fine rum.   This is an extremely smooth rum that glistens with a rich reddish brown color.  This rum teases you with a complex aroma of caramel and brown sugar, plus notes of vanilla, wood, and spice.   From the first sip, the very viscous rum send notes of sweetness and caramel that turns to a chocolate and finishes with a lasting reminder of caramel and a note or two of licorice.   The experience is one that is well enjoyed and remembered.

     I am looking forward to seeing this wonderful rum on the shelves here in America very soon.  It will become an instant favorite once it reaches the shelves here in America.   ;o)


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ron Diplomatico Blanco: The Elegant White Rum

     Ron Diplomatico Blanco from Venezuela is one of the absolute premier white rums in the world.  This is a pure and clean rum for the use in your premium cocktails that you want to be a cut above the ordinary.   First introduced at London's UK Rumfest in 2008, it has been a favorite of many cocktail masters since it's inception.   With it's light creamy feel on the palate and an unmatched softness for a white rum this is the one you need to try. 

     Made from only aged rums that vary in age from 2 to 6 years, this is a blend of light column and heavy pot still rums that have been distilled multiple times and finally charcoal filtered to attain the brightness and clarity so distinctive of this rum.  

     From the aromas that rise out of the rum you immediately know that this is a very light rum.  There are notes of sugar and floral aroma that lead you into the tasting of this rum.   You will notice a sweetness immediately, with hints of vanilla, cocoa, and  a citrus notes in the later part of the experience.   There is a long and sweet finish to this rum retaining some the palate complexity noted earlier, with a smooth, no burn finish that will make your cocktais superior ones.

    I use this as a base for many of my daiquiri recipes as well as for many other high end cocktails that call for a delicate smooth touch to make the cocktail well balanced and flavorful.

    This rum runs about $40.00 here in the United States, but for those very special times when only a fine white rum will do, Ron Diplomatico Blanco is the only rum to use.   You will find this rum in my Rum Lab and in the Rum Bar here in Key West as a resident white rum that is used in my highest quality cocktails.   ;o)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day on Boca Grand Key

    A bit windy, but a beautiful day to get together with some friends and explore Boca Grand Key.  The ride through the Lakes Passage was a bit choppy, but we survived and got to enjoy the beautiful beaches and marshy areas of Boca Grand Key.   There were not as many birds like usual, buy the flowers, the ocean and the company made this a great day of resting and marveling at what nature was throwing my way.

     Once on the beach it was time to explore and look at all of the fun things that we always seem to find on the beach as we wander along the shore.   Mangroves in blossom, with their bright purple flowers, sea oats, and all kinds of other interesting things that inhabit this protected key.  Even the Grasshopper posed on this day for his portrait.

     The birds as they swoop over us are always a great show to watch.  Today a sea gull kept us entertained as he fed from the surface of the water.   He kept swooping down and plucking fish from the surf as he enjoyed his lunch and put an aerial extravaganza on for us on the beach.

     The water was like a virtual water color print with its palate ready for you to dip your brush in and paint your own picture.   Today was one of the days that I have so missed s far this year, the strange weather hasn't allowed enough trips out to sea to suit my liking.   I thoroughly enjoy a day out on the water for a second week in a row.  ;o)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

    This is a day that we celebrate all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.   It is a day that we give special thanks to those who went before us to make us free to live our lives with all of the freedoms that we enjoy everyday.    It is a day where I would like to say "Thank you for your service to all of those who took the time to serve in the military."   

     I will enjoy this day as a thankful person living is a country where we are free to think, act and live a live we want to.   Remember your life is yours to make the way you want it to be thanks to those that gave of theirs to defend these rights. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Salute to our Veterans and Military Men and Women

  For all of our service men, women and veterans, a special thanks for your service and protecting the flag throughout the years.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Down the Lakes Passage to Boca Grand

    To the West of Key West is an area known as the Lakes Passage, a waterway between several very interesting Keys that are for the most part uninhabited.   These are a haven for birds, reptiles, mammals and fish, all a part of the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges.   There are Keys like Archer Key, Mule Key, Barracouta Key, Man Key, Woman Key, and at the end of the Lakes Passage is Boca Grand, a unique key with a pond in the middle and rumors of crocodiles, raccoons, a wide variety of birds and eagles living in the center areas of the key.  The only areas that you are allowed to walk on the key is on the beach, the rest is protected for the preservation of nesting areas and the wildlife in general.

     I love to wander this beach and watch the birds and fish as they interact with each other in the tidal zone between the beach and the deep water.   There are times that the fish are so thick that you can't tell the fish from the water, they look like a massive cloud of brown in the water.     These become favorite feeding grounds for gulls and other fish eating birds. 

     There is about three-quarters of a mile of beach to wander and it is always changing as you wander from one end to the other.   The constant tides and storms wash new debris onto the beach making for interesting pickings as you walk along the beach.

     Eventually you reach the end and it is time to return to the boats and the rest of the people that have come out to visit Boca Grand for the day.  Relax, have a lunch and beverage, clean up around you and head back to the reality of Key West.   These days out and around the waters of Key West never disappoint me, there is always so many new things to see and do out there.   Just can hardly wait for the next outing on the waters around Key West.  ;o)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Kick-Off

    Today is the beginning of the Memorial Day Weekend, this is a traditional beginning of summer event that usually includes a ton of drinking and party time.  I just want to say that I want to see all of you back here still safe and sound on Tuesday.    Drinking is a great fun thing if you do it in a responsible manner.   Drink to your hearts content, but stay out from behind the wheel if you are enjoying your favorite tipple.  

    The same is to be said if you're out on the water, you can do a lot of damage if you 're boating under the influence as well.  It is just as important to maintain if you are responsible for the safety of your passengers on the boat.   It is a weekend when many people are getting out on the water for the first time this year and not paying as much to their driving as they should.  You have to be the one that is aware of your surroundings to survive. 

    Have a great and fun Memorial Day Weekend, but please make it a safe one.  ;o)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Meeting Patrick Hemingway in Key West.

     It was one of the honors of my life to have been able to meet Patrick Hemingway, middle son of Ernest Hemingway here in Key West last Friday night.   Talking with him and enjoying some of the stories of Cuba and the memories of his father were just heart warming.  He is now in his eighty's and a memory as sharp as though everything had happened just yesterday.   

     He related some of the stories of summers in Cuba at Finca Vigia, the Hemingway home in San Francisco de Paula outside of Havana.   He told of his first camera a Rolliflex he received from his father that he was given to his father when he went to China with his third wife Martha Gellhorn, who was on assignment for Collier's Magazine. 

Ernest, Patrick (left) and Gregory at Finca Vigia
     Patrick was born June 28, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri, but traveled to Europe, Wyoming and Idaho during his childhood, though his permanent residence was Key West, Florida.   After his parents divorced, he would visit his father at Finca Vigia in Cuba quite often.  The start of World War II found Patrick accompanying his father on improvised attack missions in the Gulf of Mexico on his father's boat Pilar.

    Patrick Spent 25 years in Africa as a safari guide and teacher at the College of Wildlife Management in Tanzania. 

     Patrick edited his father's last book about Africa and published it in 1999.  The book was one of fact and fiction from an East African expedition Ernest and Martha went on during 1953 -54.   Toward the end of the trip Ernest was in two successive plane crashes in which he was reported dead.  Ernest was said to have read about his death in the newspaper when he wandered out of the jungle.    Patrick took the 800 pages of the unfinished manuscript and edited it down to about half the size and published "True at First Light".   Patrick was more than qualified to do the final editing for he had been present through most of the safari.

     Today Patrick lives in Bozeman, Montana, where he has been his residence since 1975.  There he oversees the Ernest Hemingway Intellectual Properties and the Hemingway Foundation.

    Papa's Pilar Rum is the latest of the projects he has been involved in and seems to thrive on the active life he still leads. ;o) 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Incredible Rum with an Incredible Story

     JoAnn Elardo of Cape Coral, Florida, came up with an idea for making rum in the center of Florida using the resources of her surroundings.   Today JoAnn Elardo and her associate Chris Spiro have the distillery and a  bright Turquoise colored building on Pine Island Road between Nicolas Parkway and Santa Barbara Blvd. that jumps off of the landscape.   From this little building comes an award winning silver rum that is pure Florida.

     Wicked Dolphin is an artisan hand crafted rum.   Made in a 660 gallon pot still from 100% Florida Sugar Cane purchased from local farms.   Barrel aged and blended on site at the family owned and operated distillery in Cape Coral, Florida for the highest quality.     The "Silver Rum" as a bit of a straw color that comes from the barrel aging, and has not been filtered out.  Filtering will remove the color, but it also removes some of the flavor of the barrels.   

     Wicked Dolphin won a best in class at the American Distilling Institute spirit competition and a gold medal at the 2013 Miami Rum Renaissance competition.   Winning medals in the first two competitions tells a lot about the quality and the process that is being followed by the team.

   There was a legal issue posed by a prohibition era law in the state of Florida preventing the sale of rum where it was produced.   The had a beautiful building and you couldn't even tour the distillery, plus you could not buy the rum on site.  This posed a serious problem for the success of the business.  Ms. Elardo said "Everybody has distillery tours, if you go to Colorado, New York, or even North Carolina it didn't make sense that Florida didn't have those tours"  The Wicked Dolphin team went about to change the law.  According to JoAnn Elardo, "it was a long process and a lot of times discouraging", but worth while when Bill 347 passed unanimously.    Now the people cat tour and taste the product before they purchase it.

The project is headed straight for success and has already proven itself with two prestigious awards for their Wicked Dolphin Rum.  This looks to be a new Florida Distillery that has the talent and the means for growth and quality Florida based rums.  ;o)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Drifting from Duck Key to Fish Hawk Key

Duck Key
White Egret
     It worked, I was able to get out and enjoy a day on the water.  I turned off the motor upon arriving at Duck Key just north and east of Key West and drifted to the north toward Fish Hawk Key.  The partly cloudy skies and the warm sun made for a fabulous day of relaxation.   Drifting across the 6" to 12" deep water gives you a chance to watch the sea life moving in and out of the sea grasses as well as watching the skies and mangroves for very interesting bird life.     The many trips I have made out into the keys around Key West, it never gets boring or even repetitive.  There is always something new out there in front of you.

    This day found an Egret perched in the top of a mangrove near Fish Hawk Key, along with several Cormorant "Condos".        The Egret sat there and watched as we approached and remained there watching us as we watched him.   Finally when we drifted up to about forty of yards away off he went.    There were several Cormorants there in the same mangrove key.
Cormorants drying their wings.

     The approach to Fish Hawk Key  got our attention as a pair of Osprey appeared over the mangroves that provide shelter and a nesting ground for the large and beautiful birds.   The pair would alternately circle us and let us know they knew we were there.   We continued to drift past hem and they headed back to their nest just in from the edge of the water.    As we continued drifting past Fish Hawk Key toward Jewfish Basin, I spotted a Frigate Bird making high circles overhead.   The Frigate is a great fish catcher, and can be found circling above schools of fish.

   All in all quite a wonderful day out on the water, and I look forward to getting out there more often now that summer is approaching and things will be slowing down here in Key West.  ;o)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Monday

   The start of another week here in Key West.   The weather has finally turned summer like and the winds are showing signs of calming.   It has mad me crazy not being able to head out to the remote keys and drift this year.   My days off have been filled with "honey do's", "boat do's" and choppy seas here of late.   I'm up early today so I can finish my Rum Bar orders and get the blog posted then have a play day today.   

     There  are no shortage of things to see or places to head out on the water and see here in the keys, but just getting my act together in time to head out and be able to get back before dark can be the problem.  Living on "island time" is great, but it can be a "bitch" as well when you are trying to get everything coordinated to go somewhere.  

     The one thing I know is that I am taking my flask of rum and headed out on the water today and going somewhere that will allow me to loose this pasty white skin that I'm wearing these days.   It is in the mid 80's today and there is no excuse for sitting at home as of right now anyway.  

   Only a few more things to get done, and away I go somewhere fun, peaceful and quiet just drifting through the shallows and shooting away with my camera in the sunshine.   ;o)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Friday Night Sunset in Key West

    Sunset is always an event here in Key West, Friday Night was no exception.  Mother Nature painted her beauty and showered some fabulous color in Wisteria as the sun dropped behind.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It is Official Papa's Pilar National Debut in Key West

     It was my pleasure to attend the Papa's Pilar National Debut Event on Sunset Pier in Key West last evening.   It was a real gala event with themed cuisine and cocktails celebrating the adventures and life of Ernest Hemingway.   The new line of rums that are made with the robust taste with the great adventurer in mind.  The Blonde and the Dark rums are absolutely exquisite and deserve your time to taste them.

     The event centered around industry people getting to know about these fine rums and the programs that it supports.   The rum is fully supported by the Hemingway family with their royalties from the project being given to the Hemingway Foundation and distributed to it's many Charities.   Last night there was a check in the amount of $30,000.00 given to the International Game Fish Association, one of the foundation charities and an association that was founded by Ernest Hemingway to protect, further the needs of and keep the records of international fishing.

     The entire team that made the project possible was in attendance for the event and they were having a great time seeing the project officially out in the limelight.   This has been a nearly seven year project that was finally debuted here in Key West, a fitting place considering the tie with the Hemingway family and the famed 38 foot fishing yacht called Pilar.  

    The coordinating of the Hemingway family, the rum and getting everything just right to have such a great product with so much prestige attached was a monumental project.    On hand for the event were Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's middle son, his wife Carol and John Hemingway, son of Greg Hemingway and Ernest's grandson.   The combination of great rum and a very famous family makes for a really fun event.   This is a rum that I feel will be around for a long time, they are in the process of setting up a new plant here in Key West where the Solera aging and blending operation will be conducted in the very near future.  Key West is a natural tie for the entire program, considering the tie with rum, Ernest Hemingway, and of course Pilar who's registry is still Key West.  

     It was a real honor for me to have some time to talk with Patrick Hemingway last evening about some of the things that I had the pleasure of visiting in San Francisco de Paula and Havana last fall.   Patrick's memories of the many adventures of and with his father are absolutely amazing to listen to.  His memory of the places in Cuba, Bimini, and Key West as well as all over Africa are amazing.  He told of a Rolliflex Camera that was given to his father when he went to China just before WWII that he received as his first camera ass a child and how he enjoyed photography.   I would love to be able to spend more time with him just to further the knowledge of Ernest and the stories of Patrick who is quite the protege of Ernest.  Patrick shares the love of fishing and hunting with his father as well as a love of all the exciting places and things he and his father shared.

     I would like to thank all of the people from the Papa's Pilar  organization for the invite to the debut, and best wishes for a very successful fun with these wonderful rums.  ;o)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Kenny's Blue Chair Bay Rum Has Arrived at The Rum Bar

     The long awaited rum from Kenny Chesney has finally arrived at the Rum Bar.  We have gotten the White and the Coconut so far, the Coconut Spiced was not yet in stock yet at Republic National.  Hopefully it will be in for next weeks order.  

    The Kenny Chesney fans are literally eating this rum up.  The fans are mixing it with several different juices and sodas, but they are liking these rums.   The coconut is of a very sweet nature and very aromatic, you can smell the sweet coconut frosting like airs from across the room.

     The white rum is a classic Bajan style rum, this is a good mixer that will make you feel right at home with Kenny on the beaches of the Caribbean.   This is for the true pirate that likes the fun beach life and a rum cocktail on the beach or in your back yard a sunset.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

NTSB Proposes Legal Limit Lowered from .08% to .05% BAC

     The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is proposing lowering the legal limit for driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from .08% to .05% as a means of reducing the drunk driving fatalities.    On the surface, it seems like a very simple thing, lower the blood alcohol concentration limit and you lower the drunk driving fatalities, but all it is really going to do is criminalize the responsible social drinker and really do very little for making the roads safer.  

     Mothers Against Drink Driving (MADD) feels that this is the wrong place to focus upon the problem.   They really don't have a problem with lowering the legal limit, but Jan Withers, National President of MADD, feels "the issue with lowering the legal limit is that it will take a lot of effort for a potential result that is many many years down the line". MADD isn't opposed to lowering the legal limit in principle, but feels that it is the wrong place for the government to put it's focus in the battle against drunken driving.  This is the feeling of many others involved in the battle also.   MADD is supporting the efforts of placing interlocks on the ignition system of convicted DUI offenders, (A device like a breathalyzer that will not let the car start if the driver blows .08 of higher.) putting a focus on "hard-core drunken drivers, and a better education programs.

    The other problem is that there is no direct correlation between the BAC and the number of drinks that a person consumes.  The body weight, metabolism of the individual, and other factors play important roles also.   When the percentage was dropped from .1% to .08% in 1983, the highway deaths cause by alcohol impaired drivers dropped 50% from 21,113 in 1983 to 9,8878 in 2011, but the real issue is that it took nearly thirty years for this to occur, and the advent of many auto safety equipment also had an impact on the numbers as well.  The information provided by the American Beverage Institute ( Trade organization made up  of 8,000 restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages) said that fewer that 1% of the crashes involving alcohol have occurred with drivers showing less than .05% and .08% BAC.   The institute believes that an effort to tighten the penalties for repeat and habitual offenders would have better results.

     The real issue in my mind is that there needs to be more people being more responsible for their own actions and others around them willing to do what is necessary to keep their friends and acquaintances off the road when they have had too much to drink.  It is too easy to say that "I don't want to get involved" and let someone go ahead and drive impaired.  The government hasn't yet learned that Americans are going to drink, prohibition was a failure in the twenty's and will fail again in this century.   The key to solving the problem is for the responsible drinker to "get involved" and keep your friends and relatives from getting into trouble when they have been drinking.   I firmly believe that drinking and driving is really a bad thing, but this is a social issue that need to be approached on an individual level and not an opportunity for another expensive government intervention into our social problems.  Putting the efforts on the core of the problem would yield better results and not hitting the 1% of the problem.   Repeat and habitual drinkers that didn't have just one to many are the real core of this problem, this is the part of the demographic that needs the attention.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The 2013 Hurricane Season is Just Over the Horizon

Hurricane Flags
     The first of June brings on the start of the 2013 Hurricane Season down here in the Keys.    This is the marker for the end of our busy season and the time when things begin to settle down here in Key West.   The mythical fear some people have and a real dread as hurrricane season approaches, but actually it is when the waters and the streets of Key West are returned to the residents.  It marks the time when we can go out on the waters and find areas that are not over run with people.    I look forward to the end of season and the beginning of the time when I get to travel out to the uninhabited keys and shoot pictures and enjoy the beauty of nature.  

     Nature has a calm side and a side filled with fury.  She can make days that I can go out in my little dinghy 25 of more miles out to sea in absolute calm or she can whip up a fury that can topple cities.   This is the season of uncertainty, but it is the time of the year that I really enjoy here in Key West.   I have all the respect for the fury of the hurricane, but I also know how to prepare for the arrival of a storm and know that I am where I need to be when she arrives.

Hurricane Wilma Hitting Havana Harbor Entrance
     Besides, the storm wouldn't be a storm without a good hurricane party.   On the serious side, it is time to make sure you have your hurricane preparedness kit in place and all of the necessities for the time post storm without electricity or water.  We like to think that we are all above the storm, but we really need to have a plan should one actually arrive here in Key West.   If you haven't this is the time to prepare for the 2013 hurricane season while the stores are still stocked with the supplies that you will need.  If you wait until one is approaching, you might find that everything you need has already been sold to your neighbors who got there before you.  Prepare to live through the 2013 Hurricane Season it is a good investment.  ;o)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Landmarks Around Havana

El Capitol and the Grand Theater
    In my past stories about Havana, I've dwelled on the bars, rum and some other things, but I've completely forgotten about the impressive architectural beauty in the City of Havana.   From the area around the Central Park to the harbor there are so many beautiful sights that the camera never seems to stop clicking.   Around the central park area there are hotels, a mall, restaurants, and government buildings.  All is an architect's dream of classic European styles.  

     There are museums of all kinds that give you a good cross section of life in and around Havana.   The Museum to the Revolution with the Memorial to their Fallen Heroes, is a collection of the weapons and of course the eternal flame for the fallen warriors.    There is a museum for the firemen, Havana Club, Museum of the Arts and the many other people and events.  It is wonderful that we can see the past here in Havana because the heritage was such an important part of life to the residents of Havana.

     The biggest memorial in Havana is the Jose Marti Memorial, located on the North side of the Plaza de la Revolucion in the Vedado section of Havana.   This is a memorial built to the biggest hero of the Cuban people, Jose Marti.     This monument was built by Fulgencio Batista after seizing power in a coup in 1952.  Construction began in 1953 on the 100th Anniversary of Jose Mari's birth. and was completed in 1958.  Today tourists may ride up and down the elevator and enjoy an exciting view of Havana.  

     The Presidential Palace, the Bacardi Building, The National Hotel and so many other buildings and sights make this city an amazing place to visit.   There is a lifetime of history exploration that can be done here, not to mention the exciting night life and incredible clubs and restaurants here.   

    The historic Havana Harbor and it's fortress that protects the City of Havana and the
great wall that surrounded Havana is still partially in tact in different parts of the city.

  If you should ever get the chance to visit Havana, make the time to walk the city and see all of the unbelievable sights.  ;o)