Friday, January 31, 2014

The Superbowl Sunday

     To keep you warm while watching the "Frost Bowl" on television, try this warming libation.   This is one of those simple, but very different type cocktails that is very refreshing without being too sweet.  

     Whip up a couple of these and sit back and enjoy this Sunday night's game.   You probably won't care who wins if you have more than a couple of these.  It might be smarter to save them for the second half or even the halftime show.

The Super Bowl Sunday

·         2 oz. Plantation Trinidad 1999

·         ½ Tsp. Agave Nectar

·         2 Dashes of Fees Old Fashion Bitters

·         Juice of ½ Lemon

·         Fill with Barritt’s Ginger Beer

Place all ingredients except the Ginger Beer into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled strain into a Collins Glass filled with ice and top up with Barritt’s Ginger Beer.  Garnish with a lemon zest.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What are the Cocktail Customers Looking for in 2014?

     It is fun to read all of the predictions for the "new trends " for 2014, but the reality is that the people that frequent your cocktail lounge, bar or rum shop are really looking for one thing.   It is good service, properly crafted cocktails and a congenial atmosphere in which to relax.

     In the past five plus years I have had a rare opportunity to work in a fine little bar on Duval Street here in Key West.   The biggest thing that I have learned is that you have to make your customer comfortable.  First and foremost this is what makes people come back and talk to their friends about you.   I try to use the evaluation comments I find on Trip Advisor and Yelp as guide to see what is working and what is not, by doing so I can fix what I am doing wrong and emphasize what the customers are liking.

    By following this plan we are able to draw a great group of customers to the Rum Bar and have them tell their friends and return themselves.  This is the basis on which the bar has grown and become so well known.  " This was, by far, my favorite drinking spot in Key West. Conveniently on Duval Street, but towards the south end and far enough away from the high traffic area. Bahama Bob was a wonderful bartender and a delight to talk with. This place has an impressive selection of rums (one of the largest in the country) and Bob makes a kick-ass painkiller. We recommended this place to everyone we met during our stay in Key West. Definitely worth checking out!"  From .

Keep them happy and interested.

     I find it funny that in the predictions for 2014 cocktail trend they are saying that it is going to be "moving back to more well cocktails and better customer service" that's what the customer will be looking for.  What else is new,  all that people really want is a good cocktail and to be made to feel at home when they are there.

     All the customer trends in the world all boil down to two basic things when it comes to the operation of a good bar and that is treat your customers like the friends that they really are and make a good quality and consistent drink for them.   The rest of the stuff will pretty much take care of itself if you do this for your customers.  ;o)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Know Why I Moved to Key West.

Talladega Speedway Yesterday
     I am sure that most of you know that I made a living as an engineer working with NASCAR race teams before moving to Key West.  This meant that I spent the month of January commuting between Talladega and Daytona Speedways for testing.    Nancy Wood from the Wood Brothers Race team posted a picture yesterday of the Talladega Speedway that reminds me why I became a bartender.  There were many mornings in Daytona the were in the upper 20's when we arrived at the track for testing and the same if not colder in Talladega.   I remember Loudon in June being snowed out when we went there for testing as well.

Key West This Morning
     I remember going to Richmond, Atlanta, and Rockingham in February and March and huddling around barn heaters trying to get warm while the icicles were hanging off of the lift gates on the haulers.
     It was so cold some mornings that the computers did not want to start up.   No Thanks!!  I'll take my life today here in Key West and struggle with occasional rain storm and 50 degree nights in the winter and just smile.

     Best wishes to all my friends that still make their living in the game, and may your season this year be an enjoyable and successful one.  Keep it safe and make everyone proud of the year ahead. 

     No I'll just stay here and enjoy my new life and think of all the fun you guys are having today.  ;o)


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Festival Rum Bahamas is Just Around the Corner

     .Just a quick Reminder that we have what looks to be a fun rum festival coming real soon in the Bahamas.     Friday February 21st thru Sunday February 23rd you can enjoy a fun and festive event .  
    The event is happening in Fort Charlotte, near Nassau.  Fort Charlotte was named for King George III's wife and the largest of the three forts found around Nassau.   The for has never fired a shot in combat and has a great view of the Nassau Harbor.
"The Bahamas has a lot to offer, more than sun, sand and sea. We wanted to create a festival that showcased aspects of our history that we don't typically celebrate, piracy, rum-running, and how those past events have given birth to our distinct flavours and a culture of appreciation for the art and beauty of rum making." 
Stated Andrea Jackson-Coakley, the marketing partner from the Ministry of Tourism.
     Festival Rum Bahamas is an enticing mixture of local, regional and international rum exhibitors.     During the three day festival there will be product sampling, master classes on rum, bartending and cocktail competitions, as well as Caribbean music and food. Of course there will be the opportunity to buy all that you try.
Fort Charlotte, Nassau, The Bahamas
F   For more information visit or contact:
Ms. Alexandra Maillis-Lynch
(242) 677-2835
(242) 557-3557
(242) 328-8865

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Faux Daiquiri

     I was thinking of something out of the ordinary and refreshing this morning to celebrate our warm day.  I looked up and saw two bottles that were standing out on the shelf of the bar shelf and went to work.  Doorly's XO and St. Germain Elder Flower Liqueur.   This is what I was craving and needed to put it together with some new flavors to create something exciting and fun for the evening.

     Getting tired of lime juice in most daiquiri style cocktails it was time to give a lemon a n opportunity to show its stuff.  

     Lets see what we ended up with that filled the bill so perfectly.

Bahama Bob's Faux Daiquiri

  • 2 oz. Doorly's XO Rum
  • 1/2 oz. St. Germain Elder Flower Liqueur
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • Top Up with Barritt's Ginger Beer
Place all ingredients except the Ginger Beer in a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.   Strain into a Martini glass and top up with Barritt's Ginger Beer.   Garnish with a Lemon Zest and enjoy.

     Give this one a try, I think you might find it very interesting.   ;o)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Good Morning Grenada

     The early mornings looking down from the steep hills that rise from the beaches of Grenada are some of the most breath taking any where.  You can catch a glimpse of and hear the surf as it crashes on the beach while the dew is still on the leaves of the dense vegetation.   This is a sight that you will not likely be forgotten.  ;o)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Venezuela Through the Windshield

     Like so many of the other countries and islands that I have had the opportunity to drive through, Venezuela is one of the more beautiful ones.   We flew into Caracas and then a quick flight to Barquisimeto in the mountains of Venezuela.  We boarded a van for the rest of the travel time in country.    This is a beautiful country with the mix of the mountains, cities and the coast lines.   
DUSA, La  Miel

     Just out side of Barquisimeto is the Diplomatico Distillery with their grounds that are absolutely beautiful.   Located in Le Miel, a small mountain town just outside of Barquisimeto.

    Then it was off through the mountains for the trip to El Consejo on the other side of the mountains.  This is a very interesting and colorful trip through the densely forested mountains of Venezuela.  There seems to always be a mist or clouds that are hanging along the valleys giving the picture a very eerie look to it.  

     These mountains are so serene and peaceful to see as you transverse the country.  They make the hours from La Miel to El Consejo and the Santa Teresa Distillery just melt away.

     The roads are multi lane freeways all the way, and remind me of traveling through the mountains of Northern California on Interstate 80 or 50.    As the highway winds through the dense forest growth, you just seem to fade off into a state warm of amazement as you take in all of the beauty.

     As we approach El Consejo, we pass a huge lake and then back into the mountains again.  This countryside is just too beautiful to describe.

     Venezuela, like the other countries I visit, offers more when you are on the road to see than just transport from one place to another.  Enjoy the view out the windshield, there is a lot to see out there.  ;o)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Legal Rum in Key West

     It has finally happened, a rum distillery in Key West.  Paul Menta and his partners have jumped through all of the legal hoops and opened a distillery and tasting room for his "Chef Distilled Rum" on the corner of Simonton and Front Streets.   Located in the location that once was Jack's Saloon in 1900, then in 1903 the building became the Coca Cola Bottling Company, today it is producing a high quality white rum and soon aged and flavored rums.

     There is a pair of 200 gallon stills on the property, one to strip the impurities from the wash and the other to extract the alcohol.   The rum is passed through the still 6 times to remove all of the unwanted materials and leave a pure clean and honest rum.  It is then charcoal filtered before being put into sea water washed 5 gallon barrels to begin the aging.   Much of the rum now is unaged and bottled as the clean white "Legal Rum" that is sold through the tasting room and distributed by Opici Wine and Spirits.

     Sitting on the table in the still room, was one of the new rums, a 105 proof version of the white rum.  This is coming out soon, boasting a strong and smooth flavor that offers flavors that only the overproof versions of rums can offer.  It will be called 105 Simonton from the address of the plant and the proof of the rum.  There are a number of flavored varieties being developed and being readied for your palate in the very near future.

    Today you can visit the plant and tasting room and be a part of the process and bottle your own bottle of rum.  This is a unique experience and one that you will not forget. 

     I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the distillery here in Key West yesterday morning, and it is a destination as well as a distillery that needs to be seen on your next stop in Key West.   I will also be featuring the "Legal Rum" at the Rum Bar in the next few weeks.  This is a good rum and worth a taste and a visit to Paul's distillery.  ;o)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Red Mount Gay Regatta hats are Back in Key West.

     Yesterday I was the guest of Mount Gay Rum on the America 2.0 for a day on the water watching the Quantum Key West Sailboat Races.   It was a perfect day for sailing, good winds and the sunshine on one side of the boat anyway.   We left the Key West Historic Seaport at about 10 am and headed out to the race courses to observe the races.  All of the crew and the Mount Gay people were clad in their Mount Gay racing caps and we were off to a great day of racing out on the water.

     We first went to the smaller boat course and watched the J Boat and Melges 24 classes compete in the first race of the event.   Both classes were very exciting to watch as the boats jockeyed for position entering the turn gates and weather marks on the course.  The J Boat class had 65 starters and the pure congestion of the class made for some very exciting close racing.   They are the largest class of the event, and provide some very exciting moments during the day.

     Then it was off to the big boat course to see the very large and high tech Super Maxi Boats as well as the other large boat classes.  The Super maxi's are boasting spinnakers in excess of 2000 square feet and boats in excess of 50 feet in length.   These are the super complicated boats that have the ability to shape their sails and angle the masts in order to capture all of the wind possible.  This makes these very powerful yachts that are also very fast by sailing standards.

    The other classes are equally as exciting in their large boats as well, but it is hard to take your eyes off of the massive Super Maxi Class Boats.

It was a fun day of exciting race action and a fine lunch and good Mount Gay Black Barrel and Mount Gay XO rums.   The sailing around under the sheets of America 2.0 and her fine crew made for a very fun day on the water.  I always look forward to the Quantum Key West Race Week each year and I recommend that you come out and enjoy the races as well if you are in the Keys this week.  ;o)


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rum Idea from the 50's

     I love to look back on the old cocktail recipes from bygone eras and come up with new spins on them.  Today I ran across an old recipe for the "Rob Roy", a Scotch based cocktail that was very popular in that era.   The "Rob Roy Cocktail" was created in 1894 by a bartender at the famous Waldorf - Astoria in New York.    The drink was named in honor of the premiere of the operetta Rob Roy that was based on the Scottish hero Robert Roy MacGregor, a "Scottish Robin Hood" if you will from the 18th century.  

     While similar to the Manhattan, it was based on Scotch instead of Rye or Canadian Whiskey.   There were several versions of the Rob Roy circulating around in the Fifties.   There was a sweet, a Dry, and the "Perfect" Rob Roy recipes.   The difference being the type of Vermouth that was used.

I'm tending toward a dry version that is being made with Plantation Trinidad 2000 Rum.   The notes of Scotch that a apparent in the Plantation rum makes for a great marriage into the cocktail's original recipe.  There is an inherent sweetness to the rum that lends its self to the dryer versions of the original cocktail.

Bahama Bob's  Rum Roy
  • 1 1/2 oz. Plantation Trinidad 2000 Rum
  • 1  oz. Ultra Dry Vermouth
  • 1 Dash Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters
  • Lemon Zest
Place all ingredients in a shaker and shake until chilled, strain into a Martini glass and garnish with a lemon zest and a cherry.

Give this one a try, I think you will find it very satisfying.   ;o)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Race Week Key West

     The annual Key West Regatta gets underway tomorrow.  They have been out there practicing all week, but the races start tomorrow.  I have the good fortune to have been invited out on the America 2 by the fine people of Mount Gay Rum to see what is happening up close and personal again this year.   I thoroughly enjoyed this trip last year and am so looking forward to it tomorrow.

     "Key West is one of the few regattas on the 52 Super Series in which the amateur owners drive their own boats – a unique element the professional crews enjoy. “We love having Doug driving the boat. He’s the leader of the whole program and brings great energy to the team,” Hutchinson said of DeVos."
     "Quantum Key West 2014 will feature five days of racing in 10 classes on the aqua-colored waters off the coast of the Conch Republic. From the professional-laden 52 Class to the family-oriented programs in the PHRF classes, there is something for everyone."
Read more at:

      If you have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the races this is a great fun day out on the water and a great chance to wee the spectacular event.  After the event stop by one of your favorite Key West watering holes and enjoy a fine Mount Gay cocktail or just sip a nice glass of Mount Gay XO.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm Being Replaced by a Robot!

Source: Daily Mail
By Sarah Griffiths 

A U.S company has created a personal robotic bartender that it claims 'serves the perfect drink' to suit an individual's tastes. 

Monsieur is an artificially intelligent robotic that can learn its user's favourite cocktails as well as how strong they like them - and even anticipate when to include a double shot of alcohol if they have had an especially trying day at work. 

The robot is the brainchild of a company, also called Monsieur, in Atlanta, Georgia, which is trying to raise $100,000 on crowd-funding website Kickstarter to put the product, which is designed for the home, into production. 

The artificially intelligent robot called Monsieur, can create thousands of drinks at the touch of a button and learns how a user likes them - even anticipating when to make a drink with a double shot of alcohol in it after a long day at work. 

To use the machine, which the company envisions being installed in a house, an individual must use the touch screen on the robot to browse the 300-strong cocktail list and choose how strong they could like their drink, from 'lightweight' to 'boss'. 

Over time, the company says its intelligent machine will learn an individual's taste to automatically per-adjust their drinks, as well as making them to order. 

The firm also says that just like a skilled human bartender, its robot can make recommendations based on their preferences and homeowners can pick a theme for their machine from Irish pub to Hawaiian tiki bar. 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Morning has Arrived: Still Chilly, but Beautiful

     This morning has arrived, but it is still a bit chilly around here.  The temps in the low sixty's and clear.   It is always so beautiful around here in the early mornings, the sky reflecting off of the water makes for such a great way to open your eyes and face the day.  It just makes me smile as I walk down the dock headed for my office to write the blog.  ;o)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What is up for the Tropical Bar Scene in 2014?

    As a bartender, I have noticed that the quality and uniqueness of the cocktails is still one of the things of interest to the customers, but more and more, they seem to be looking for a quality product that is consistent and tastes good.   The days of the slam it together and make sure that is pink and has some rum in it are truly gone. 

    This year I'm looking for people that are interested in a better quality cocktail and to experience the honest spirits and shed the past days of sugared and "fake" spirits.   The "Real McCoy" to quote a slogan from the days of Prohibition is what the customer is looking for today.  My sales of high end rums is soaring and the clientele wants to be educated about these quality spirits as well.

     I'm finding that I need to know a lot about each of the fine rums that we dispense and know a lot about the people that make them.   I tend to follow the master blenders that have impressed me in the past and those that continue to stay away from the artificially flavored and colored  spirits.   Today we have such a variety of great honest spirits to enjoy that it really becomes unnecessary to even get involved with much else.  This is a great thing in my eyes, because I get to share many of my favorite rums and rum makers with so many new clientele.

     This is going to be a great year in the rum business, and one that I hope is just the start of a new era of appreciation of fine spirits and moving away from the artificial and into the real.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm Feeling Lucky Today

     This day almost has three strikes against it, but I feel lucky today and headed out any way.  It is a full moon, freezing cold (by Key West Standards), just a great day to stay home and pull the blankets back over my head.

     The sun did rise in a beautiful way and I'm feeling all right, perfect to poke my nose out and challenge the day.   I'm actually feeling very lucky, I could be in a place just a few miles north of here where it is actually cold and not just cold to those of us that are use to the 70's,

     I walked down the dock at dark thirty this morning to meet the full moon, and about a half hour later the sun rose, then the day got even better.   I could actually feel the warmth of the sun just after it rose.   The day will keep getting better and better as the day goes on.

     The real good news is that the cold front is nearly past and we will be back in the 70's tomorrow.  Hurrah, shorts and t-shirts again.  Today was the first time in two years that I had to put on long pants for the weather.  It really sucks, long pants, socks and real shoes.  I left the northern regions to avoid this and sure enough I got handed a reminder today, just as a reality check, but a reminder none the less.   Oh well I'll make it through and back to the sunshine and the 70's tomorrow.  ;o)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Simple Three Item Cocktail!

     One thing that I always hear these days from the home mixologists is "I need a good three item cocktail".  Here is an idea for one that might surprise you and won't break the budget either.   I was fooling around yesterday with some Brugal Blanco extra dry white rum and found this to be a tasty and very simple cocktail.  Either of the liqueurs will work fine, and cranberry cocktail will be a touch sweeter than the cranberry juice.  Tailor it to your taste.

The Tree Item Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz. Brugal Extra Dry White Rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. Peach Schnaps or Apricot Brandy
  • Top Up with Cranberry Juice or Cocktail
Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until chilled.  Strain into a Martini Glass and garnish with an orange zest.

     It has some of the notes of a cosmo, but it is uniquely scrumptious.   Try one of these, they are simple and tasty.   ;o)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rum in 2014: Where are we Going?

     With the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival just around the corner April 25th thru 27th , the rum category’s health in 2014 is an important subject to the rum lovers of America.    There has been a growth in the category for the pas number of years, but the category has taken an important step in the past couple of years.  There is a shift from bulk rum to ages ultra-premium rums.     Both are a part of the total picture, but the higher end sipping rums are the focus for the category today.

     There has been a trend toward the release of more and more of these very special rums in the past three or so years.  The Introduction in 2010 of Abuelo Centuria, in 2012, Brugal’s Papa Andres, Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Rum, in 2013, Bacardi’s Facundo Rums and 2013 Don Pancho Fernandez’s Origenes are all extremely fine rums that will rival the fine cognacs and top Scotches.

     “Despite global rum volumes falling 0.4% in 2012 (IWSR), this premiumisation is expected to contribute to the category’s modestly projected 17% volume growth by 2016, to 1.7bn liters (Euromonitor). Rum volumes in Asia will jump by 30% by that time, although local brands will continue to dominate.”

     There have been a large number of new rums introduced that are all in the sipping rum category, Diplomatico Vintage 2000, The Real McCoy Rums,  Brugal’s  Siglo de Oro,  Debonaire line , to name a few.  I’m getting indications that the trend is going to continue in 2014.  The idea of vintage rums is taking hold and the movement to more “honest rums” that really spend time in the barrels, instead of being artificially colored and flavored.

     I’m really looking forward to this year’s Miami Rum Renaissance Festival in April and the opportunity to see so many of my rum producing friends again and all of those who enjoy the spirits of the cane as well.   It is my goal to keep the category moving forward and introducing more and more people to the virtues of the fine rums.  ;o)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

St Lucia through the Windshield

     St Lucia is another of the Caribbeans beautiful mountainous islands.   The thick jungle vegetation and all of the fruit plantations make this a very pretty and colorful island.  Heading up the mountain out of Castries, the capitol of St. Lucia, you begin to see the terrain change from city to rural fairly quickly.   Once over the mountain, the view of the lush valley is breath taking.    I find these islands with their beautiful mountains and valleys  very nice.

     There are bananas, and spices and a variety of other items planted on the island and at the edge of the valley is the St. Lucia Distillers, makers of Chairman's Reserve Rums.

     Moving up and down the mountain there are a variety of colorful views of the bays that are all around the seashores. 

     The creativeness of the people is clear with arts and crafts available all around.  From the cars to the bowls to the hats and even the painted Tiki's, there are things that catch you eye everywhere.

     This is another of the Islands that I really enjoyed driving over and around and one that you need to see, given the opportunity.  ;o)

Monday, January 13, 2014

This is a Morning That is so Worth Seeing

     I stepped off of the boat this morning to an absolute calm that I haven't felt in quite some time.   There was no wind, the sun was just peeking over the corner of the condos across the marina.   All was right with the world as I started my days journey.   The sun had ignited the sky with fire and did a great job of getting my eyes opened.  

     I usually get out of the boat before the sun rises these days, now we are back on standard time for the winter.   To have slept in a bit this morning, which made me feel better to start with and have the sun just hit me and brighten everything up for me just capped the whole experience.

       As I drifted down the docks I noticed how smooth the water was, not even a ripple.  I could see all the way to the bottom and all of the morning sea life that was swimming around down there.   Tarpon, snapper, parrot fish and a whole cast of others.  All of this added to my wonderment as I made my way up to the office and sat down to write.

     I just hope that your day is as wonderful as mine is starting out to be and you get to share some of my peaceful easy feelings that I am happily sharing with you.   ;o)