Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Orange Colada Surprise

     Fooling around in the Rum Lab is always an enjoyable afternoon for me.  Today was no exception, I was fooling around with some coladas and bringing back some of the old ideas that I have gleaned from reading a couple of old books that have crossed my desk in the past month.  It seems that sugarcane, rum and coconut have been great friends ever since the early 1500’s.   Sugarcane and coconut palms are both natives of the South Seas and became part of the Caribbean as a result of explorers and trades bringing them from Europe and Asia.  

    With that in mind, I figured it was time to continue the marriage and see what ne things I can come up with for a luscious new cocktail.    I have used the coconut in many forms in my cocktails before, and today I will be exploring them again in what I hope will end up tasty and fun.   Coconut water and cream of coconut are two ways to put the coconut into the cocktail.   Coconut Water is a good mix to keep the taste of the rum in the forefront and still cut the bite of the rum.  It is also an electrolyte rich mixer that offers some positive benefits to your cocktail.    Cream of coconut is another great mixer, that can add depth and a solid background to the cocktail from which you can add juices, fruits, or syrups to fill in the accents for your cocktail.

     Today I am working with Cream of coconut and using half and half to create a very rich and creamy colada.   I’m going to work with an orange flavor to see what I can create.   The idea comes from a frozen treat that I could get as a kid called a 50/50.   I had an orange coating on the outside and an ice cream center.   In case you haven’t guessed yet, this is going to be a frozen cocktail.

Bahama Bob’s Orange Colada Surprise

·         2 oz. El Dorado Spiced Rum

·         2 oz. Cream of Coconut

·         1 oz.  Half and Half

·         1 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

·         1 oz. Orange Juice

Place all ingredients in a blender with 1 ½ cups of ice and blend until smooth.   Pour into a Pint Glass and garnish with an orange wheel.   Float with Plantation Overproof Rum and grate fresh nutmeg on the top.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rum's Fourteen Most Interesting People

     Wednesday the Caribbean Journal announced its 14 most interesting people.  This is the inaugural  selection and there are some very interesting if you will people on the list.   The Caribbean Journal is one of the most influential papers in all of the Caribbean and I am sure that they put some effort into their picks.

     "Who are the most interesting people in the rum industry? It’s not an easy question to answer, of course. At Rum Journal, our chief mission is to raise the level of conversation about rum to the way people around the world treat fine wine or other spirits. And so to answer this question, we focused on one primary definition of interesting: that is, who are the people who are helping to showcase the beauty, romance and wonder of rum — and doing their part to raise the global interest level in the Caribbean’s signature spirit? These are our picks for the inaugural Most Interesting People in Rum list."


     It was an honor to be listed as one of the lists members, many of these people have been so helpful to me over the years to glean information about the spirits of the sugarcane and I am proud to call many of them my friends.  Thanks again to The Caribbean Journal for making me a part of this list. ;o)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Marti Autentico Licor de Ron

     I've gotten the new cocktail bug here lately, and as I was digging through the collection of rums, I stumbled upon this interesting old bottle of  Marti Autentico Licor de Ron.   Made in the traditional Cuban style of super premium rum along with tropical limes and refreshing mint added to create this pre-Castro Cuban iconic expression.  Sometimes referred to as the Mojito Rum, the lime and mint flavor does pick up the essence of the cocktail made famous by the Bodeguita del Medio in central Havana.

     According to the information I have been able to gather about this unusual bottle, a well known master distiller (Don Pancho Fernandez says it wasn't him) created this expression in the traditional pre-Castro Cuban rum style of the late 1950's.  He drew upon the traditional methods to create this Cuban favorite.  The rum has a distinctive fruity mint flavor that was created to represent the essence of Cuba in the 1950's.

     Named for Jose Marti, one of Cuba's most beloved patriots.  The premium quality of the rum can be savored neat, on the rocks or mixed in any number of cocktails including the traditional Cuban Mojito.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Put Some Life in Your Cocktails with Licor 43

     I discovered Licor 43 several years ago, and have found it to be a wonderful addition to most anything that I have tried to put it in.  Licor 43 is a very secret blend of ingredients that us unmatched in any other liqueur that I have ever tasted.  I is a very complex blend that really comes to life with aromas light citrus, vanilla, extremely light touch of warm spice, but not spicy. Almost thought there might be possible hints of saffron, but if there is any saffron it is very faint.   On the palate there is a bit if soft syrupy feel with a hint of butterscotch, rich toffee, lush, decadent, sweetened like honey with no sharp sugary edge. Lingering sweetness of juicy light flavored citrus. Faintest hint of floral.

     The real interesting part of this liqueur is how it will mix with nearly everything and bring out a nice improvement in the mix.  It is one of those truly universal liqueurs that you can mix with everything from milk, to fruits, juices, or even other spirits with resounding success.

     Here are a couple of ideas to try,  I found them very delightful.

CafĂ©  Leche 43

·         1/2 oz. Licor 43

·         1 oz.  Brinley Gold Coffee Rum

·         1 oz. El Dorado Golden Rum Cream

Pour ingredients in rocks glass over ice. Stir and serve. 


43 Rum Cozmo

·         1-1/4 oz.  Licor 43

·         1 1/2 oz. Brugal Blanco

·         1  oz.  Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

·         2 oz. Cranberry Juice

·         Orange Zest Garnish

Build in a Shaker filled with fresh ice and strain into a Martini Glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Fly Boys of Boca Chica Channel

    Today I'm just floating down through Boca Chica Channel watching the Navy Fly Boys bring in their fighters for a landing at NAS Key West.  The roar of the jets is a regular sound down here in the keys, whether from the Key West International Airport or NAS Key West.  It is a sound of freedom for our country and a chance to marvel at some of the most sophisticated flying machines in the world.  The way the pilots handle them is also very impressive.

     Having owned aircraft in my previous world, I really enjoy seeing all the varieties of them around here.   To spend an afternoon out on the water watching the mechanical birds is almost as much fun as observing "mother natures".   I find it to be an interesting dichotomy  because there are a large number of birds the hang out just off the end of the runway in Boca Chica Channel.  These two birds do not do well together, many of aircraft has been lost from mid air collisions with birds.  This is very dangerous and not a good thing for either of the "flocks".

   No matter how you chop it up, it is a great way to spend an afternoon, birds and planes, both very spectacular.   Hope that you are enjoying your Memorial Day Monday like I have.  ;o)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Cocktails with Cachaca

   Cachaca is a Brazilian sugarcane brandy, known by the natives of Brazil as Batidas.    Usually distilled directly from the sap of the sugarcane plant.  The sap is generally fermented for two to three weeks in copper or wooden vats, then distilled in pot stills.  The majority of cachaca's are not aged, but there are some premium ones that have up to 2 years in the barrel and filtered back to a clear color again.

    Cachaca has become popular primarily because of the Brazilian cocktail known as the "Caipirinha" or peasants drink.  The original recipe only calls for lime juice, sugar and cachaca.   It is most commonly mixed right in the glass from which it will be consumed.  There are several other "Batida" cocktails that are very simple out there, but make sure that the mix has a certain amount of sweetness and fruit juices, because Cachaca is a very basic sugarcane spirit that has a strong bite and grassy flavor.  Generally when  found in Brazil in an "overproof" expression that has some serious bite if you try to consume it straight.

Classic Caipirinha
  • Juice of a half lime
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of Sugar (to taste)
  • 2 oz. Cachaca
Combine the lime, sugar, and ice in a sugar lined tumbler and stir until sugar is dissolved.   Add Cachaca and stir again, garnish with a lime wheel

Bahama Bob's Batida de la Fresa
  • 2 to 3 Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 oz. Half and Half
  • 1/2 oz.  Cream of Coconut
  • 2 oz. Cachaca
Place all ingredients in a blender with ice and blend until smooth, pour into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a fresh strawberry

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fast Boats and Summer Fun

     The time of year is finally arriving for everyone to get the boats out of storage and have fun on the lakes, bays and oceans here in America.  So looking forward to boating season this year.  Hanging out at the remote beaches, rafting up with friends on the sand bars and all of the other things that are so much fun about boating.   ;o)

Annual Key West Powerboat Races in November

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Daiquiri Revisited for the Patio Season

Jennings Cox
     The Daiquiri is one of the forever type of cocktail that can be traced to the copper mines in the Cuban province of Oriente and a near by village of Daiquiri.  Jennings Cox is credited with its original creation out of desperate situation of only having white run, lime, ice and sugar when friends were coming by.   The cocktail later came to be very popular when a master of the cocktail named Constante Ribailagua head barman and later owner of the El Floridita in Havana put his mind to the daiquiri.  Besides making the first frozen daiquiri, he made a very special daiquiri for "Papa" Hemingway.

     Today, the daiquiri has taken many forms, from the "slushy machine" sugar drizzle to the classic daiquiri named for the village in which it was invented.   I still love to fool around with new daiquiri recipes, they can be a very rewarding cocktail with widely accepted results.  From my position behind the Rum Bar in Key West I get the opportunity to introduce this classic to many new enthusiasts every day.   Most are looking for something very clean and not really sweet, so the "La Floridita Daiquiri" or the "Papa Doble" are very popular with my guests.

     I was fooling around with a new idea using Dry Curacao the other day and I came up with a new daiquiri that really has some very special flavor.  This is in the classic daiquiri style in that it is not a frozen daiquiri. 

Bahama Bob's Dry Curacao Daiquiri

  • 2 oz. Matusalem Platino White Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • Juice of a Half Lime
  • 1/2 oz. Cane Syrup
Placing all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice, shake until fully chilled and strain into a chilled fluted cocktail glass and garnish with an orange zest.  To make this by the pitcher, just multiply the amounts by 12.

     I think you will find this to be a very refreshing summer patio cocktail that you can make one by one or in a pitcher for a group of friends.  ;o)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron Announced

    There has been an announcement for the release of the newest of the Bacardi line of rums.  Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron, a white sipping rum, that will be available in airports around the world.  This is a release that is aimed at the "Duty Free" market to give it a world wide launched around the world this summer.

    I had the opportunity to taste this expression at the Bacardi Penthouse Party during the Miami Rum Festival last month and I feel like this is going to be a winner for Bacardi.   Although you have to travel out of the country in order to get your hands on a bottle of this rum, when you get the opportunity to visit an out of country airport liquor shop, pick up a bottle of this one.
    Bacardi Gran Reserva Masetro de Ron was inspired by a recipe passed down through the generations of master blenders at Bacardi and uses  slow-filtering of the blended rum that has been aged up to three years.  The filtering is accomplished through the use of a coconut shell charcoal, creating an extremely smooth rum.    The rum has some fruity, floral and vanilla notes along with a nuttiness and some notes of oak as well.  The  taste is mellow, with slightly sweet notes.  
     Mike Birch, Bacardi Global Travel Retail, said: “The global super premium white spirits segment has grown strongly over the past decade and, backed by the unique quality and heritage of the Bacardi brand and its market-leading position in the category, we are seizing a clear opportunity to upgrade existing white spirits shoppers into the super-premium white rum segment."
     “We are confident that this stunning innovation with Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron will set the pace globally for growth in the rum category and inject new levels of excitement among consumers that will ultimately lead to premiumisation of the rum category as a whole.”
     This is a significant step for Bacardi into the realm of premium white rums, Bacardi Gran Reserva Masetro de Ron joins the Facundo Rum Neo launched last November as fine premium white sipping rums.  ;o)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's 5 O'clock Somewhere

     The concept is a take off from an old saying from the fifties's and sixties, "No Drinking Until After 5", accompanied by a clock with 5"s in all positions.   When the song came out in June of 2003 I was living in Mooresville, North Carolina  and deep in the dream of moving to the tropics permanently.

     In those days we were flying down to Key West or the Abaco's
in the Bahamas on a regular basis and trying to put a plan together to make a permanent move to somewhere warm.  I had an idea one snowy Saturday when I was sitting at home dreaming and wishing that I was down where there wasn't any snow.  The song "5 O'clock Somewhere" had just played on the radio and I was off to the garage to make the idea come to life.

     A few scraps of old shingles that we had left over from reshingling the side of the house, and a clock mechanism that I had laying around and off to work I went.  The song really sent vibes through me that said life in the tropics is where I really needed to be.   I finished the project on Sunday after a trip to the Dollar Store to find a small world globe and got it mounted.  The picture as it happen to be is the Carambola Beach Resort on St. Croix, a place I fell in love with as did the Kennedy's and the Rockefeller's back in the thirty's.

     Today this little treasure sits in my boat and reminds me of how lucky I feel about where I reside today.   It is truly 5 O'clock right here most any time I want it to be.  ;o)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Florida: Florida Rep. Jamie Grant Commends Republic National Distributing Company for its $15 Million Contribution to Step Up For Students Scholarship Program

Rep Jamie Grant of Tampa
     Florida Representative Jamie Grant visited Republic National Distributing Company's Tampa office this morning to personally thank company representatives for providing $15 million worth of scholarships for low-income Florida students.   

     "The significance and lasting impact of this contribution cannot be overstated," said Rep. Grant. "By supporting the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program, Republic National is investing in the future of our children and our community by providing educational opportunities for Florida's lower-income K-12 students."  

     Representatives from Step Up For Students, a Tampa-based nonprofit that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, joined Grant in thanking Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) executives for the contribution, which will fund more than 2,750 full scholarships.  

     Step Up For Students is funded by corporate donors, like RNDC, that receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for their contributions to the program. The program provides scholarships to qualified low-income families throughout Florida, allowing recipients to choose between a scholarship to help with private school tuition and fees, or a transportation scholarship to attend an out-of-district public school.  

     Ron Barcena, executive vice president of RNDC Florida, presented Step Up For Students President Doug Tuthill with an oversized check representing the company's $15 million pledge for the 2014-15 school year.   

     "RNDC is thrilled to support a program that so positively affects the lives of Florida children," said Barcena. "We know that a quality education is the cornerstone for a successful future, and we couldn't be more pleased to help provide a great foundation for so many students in need." 

     RNDC joined Step Up For Students as a corporate partner in 2012 and has since contributed a total of $45 million.
     I find it to be a wonderful thing to see RDNC stepping up to the plate to help further the minds of young people that may not have had the chance to further their educations otherwise.   I'm proud of them and I hope others in the spirits industry can follow suit and help as well.  ;o)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Third Generation of Bahama Bob's Juices Release on Thursday at the Rum Bar in Key West

     Bahama Bob's Barrel Juice makes it's debut at the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn here in Key West on Thursday.  This is the third generation of these unique rum expressions.   A little more is learned with each generation and this one is by far the best of the breed.  

     151 proof rum that is being aged in a bottle through the exposure to cubes of former rum barrels from Grand Cayman and the Cayman Spirit Company, makers of Seven Fathom Rum.   The barrel cubes were soaked in a mixture of Agave nectar and Rhine Wine for 3 months before the mixture was dumped and replaced with 151 proof rum and allowed to rest for another 3 months.  

     The wood of the barrels and the saturation with wine and agave nectar adds an unusual flavor profile to the mixture.  This is by far the smoothest and most lingering flavors of all of the juices to date.   The notes of the wine along with the touch of sweetness from the agave nectar gives Bahama Bob's Barrel Juice a very nice sippable flavor.  The fruity flavor seems to linger and linger long after its smooth finish.   There is still a warmth from the high proof, but very mild by comparison to this rum straight out of the distiller's bottle.  There is a finishing being done by the oak that the previous juices lacked.

     This will be an opportunity to enjoy the flavor of the newest of the line of Bahama Bob's Juices,
and a really fun and rewarding experience.  Come join us on Thursday or Friday if you are in the Keys for the next of the line of fun rum juices.  ;o)

Monday, May 19, 2014

El Dorado Golden Rum Cream

     I found an extraordinary Rum Cream in the El Dorado Rum booth during the recent Miami Rum Festival.  This is not just your every day expression, It has the flavor that you have grown to expect from the El Dorado brand of rums.  The creaminess and the flavors just linger and linger long after the rum is gone.   I have just added this rum to our collection at the Rum Bar in Key West, and it is just wonderful.

     I started fooling around with El Dorado Golden Rum Cream the other day and found it to do well with so many of the liqueurs that I have on the shelf.   I tried all of the usual suspects like coffee, chocolate and amaretto, they all blended well with the El Dorado Golden Rum Cream as I was sure that they would.

     I was really looking for something that was different this time.  I tried several things that really clashed, but then I then stumbled on an idea that really works for a fine after dinner cocktail.  I have a rather large supply of Vanilla Rums, something that generally is just vanilla, and I don't give much thought to.  I think I have changed my mind after playing with it and the rum cream.  Give this mix a try, I think that you will find it to be very nice.  This one really is a fine dessert by itself, who needs ice cream?

Bahama Bob's Vanilla Creamsicle
  • 1 1/2 oz. El Dorado Golden Rum Cream
  • 1 oz. Brinley Gold Vanilla Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Siesta Key Spiced Rum
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until fully chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.  Garnish with fresh nutmeg and a mint sprig.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Heading to Work in Havana

     It is funny, the perception of life in Cuba that we have here in America.  The Cuban people are educated by the state, and have regular jobs like you and I have.  It is really nice to walk among them at 7:30 in the morning as they are headed to work in just the same manner as we do here in America.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Key West Through the Windshield

     What can I say, Key West is one of the more unusual islands in the world.  You need several kinds of windshields to really see it, one on your boat, one on your scooter or bicycle, and maybe one from your car.  The car is the least likely for someone that lives on the island, because they are really a problem if you are out and about here.  This is because there is very limited parking and what is available is expensive.   I get around on my scooter most of the time, it gives me an economic means to get from place to place and still be able to carry a case of rum every now and then as needed.  My dinghy is the other mode of transport that works very well around here.  I run between the keys with it and over to my favorite watering hole as well.  I can cruise over and back to the boat in a clam and enjoyable mode.

    The views of the island are as different as the people that live here.   You turn a corner and you see something different that you did not expect to see, somethings that you wish you could unsee every now and then, but you get use to this when you spend a little time here.  Key West is one of the most beautiful places you can ever visit or live, the combination of the people, the water, and the wildlife (all kinds) make it such a fun place to be.

    Famous for its sunsets, the beautiful waters, wildlife, and its people.   You only need to spend a week here and you will never want to leave.   Riding the tides through the many small uninhabited keys is always provides  interesting views as the birds fly right past you like you weren't even there.  The numerous fish, turtles, dolphin and rays that you can watch swim past you will keep your head turning the whole time.

     In the evening it is gathering clouds as the sun begins to settle in the west.  Sitting at the dock tiki bar enjoying a fine rum cocktail after a day of work on Duval Street.  it is hard to imagine how it can get much better than this.  ;o)

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Planter's Punch If You Please

     The Planter's Punch is a cocktail that grew out of the Jamaican Plantations in the 1800's.   This is the original recipe in verse according to an 1878 article in London's "Fun Magazine".  

A wine-glass with lemon juice fill,
Of sugar the same glass fill twice
Then rub them together until
The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice.

Of rum then three wine glasses add,
And four of cold water please take. A
Drink then you'll have that's not bad—
At least, so they say in Jamaica.

     It seems that several of the early versions of Planter's Punch recipes were written in verse.  A Jamaican lady dropped by the Rum Bar in Key West several years ago and recited this recipe to me for a real Jamaican Punch.  
Take two of sour (lime)
To one and a half of sweet.
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong (Jamaican Rum),
And add four parts of weak(water).
     This is a recipe that was something similar to the original daiquiri from Cuba.   Many of the Caribbean recipes from that era had this style of verse to describe the ingredients and how to put them together. 
     Here is a pretty good idea that I have put together for a flavorful Planter's Punch.

Bahama Bob’s Planter’s Punch




·         1 oz.  Plantation Jamaica Rum
·         1 oz.  Matusalem Platino Rum
·         1/2 oz.   Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
·         2 oz.   Orange Juice
·         2 oz.   Pineapple Juice
·         1/2 oz.  lime Juice
·         2 dashes Bitters
·         1/2 oz. Dekuypers  Pomegranate Liqueur
·         1 Orange Zest
       Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled and pour into a pint glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange zest.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Where is Rum Really Going?

     I came across several articles in the past couple of days about rum and where different people believe it needs to go.   I find the differences of opinion very interesting, in that it is a category that really has no rules to start with.   There seems to be several factions that are trying to be heard and each has strong beliefs as to where rum needs to go in order to be successful.

     There are the ones that believe that pure rum of a premium nature with no additives is the answer, while there are those that feel that the "club scene" is where the profits are no matter what the quality of the rum.  Then there is the question of additives to enhance the flavor and color of the rums.  All of these subjects keep coming up on Facebook, newspaper articles and other media, but where does the future of rum really lie?

     Diageo executive Ed Pilkington in a speech to The Distillers City Debate, hosted by The Worshipful Company of Distillers in London, said, “There’s a huge opportunity for premiumisation in the rum due to an increasing connoisseurship in the category,”    “The stories and history of rum are crucial for its future, but over the past 20 years, there has been an explosion of the clubbing scene, which has caused rum to lose its soul and become a commodity for high energy occasions.   “This has caused rum to be devalued and belittled in the eyes of the consumer.”
     Also Speaking at last week's The Distillers City Debate, hosted by The Worshipful Company of Distillers in London, Chris Searle, now retired director of Northern Europe and Asia at Bacardi, argued against the motion that "the future of rum lies with connoisseurs, not clubbers".

     For Searle, "age is an issue" which could hinder the premiumisation of rum, and the category should instead further its position in the emerging middle class markets, particularly among "aspirational" young clubbers. 

     "The skill of rum lies in blending and not in creating bottles with age statements, which is a big challenge for distillers," said Searle. 

     He added that this difficulty derives from the fact that many rum distilleries are based in countries with hot climates, meaning that if rum is left to age for a significant amount of time, this can be very costly due to evaporation. 

    "Rum producers struggle to create plenty of extra aged bottleings because of the angel's share, rum lost to evaporation in aging, and age statements are often the key to selling expensive drinks.   The rum hierarchy is not understood by consumers - its story is more interesting than age."
     The issue really boils down to the marketplace, where what goes out the door putting money back into the coffers of the rum producers that will determine where its efforts need to be placed.   Rum is the rogue category of spirits and as such, is as different as night and day as to the style, flavor and content of the brands.   There are the purists  that believe that rum should be honest and color and flavors come only from the barrels that they were aged in or the type of stills that they were created in.  Others believe that the cost factor of very old rums will make it too expensive for the market, and kill the category.  Some believe that younger rums with some caramel and sugar added to give it the taste and flavor of older rums  is OK too. 
    I guess the real answer to this lies in the palates of the consumers.  There is truly a market for all of the rums that are provided us these days.   I find myself on the side of the cleaner and purer rums, but as a barman in a Rum Bar with over 240 rums I find that the sweetened rums fit a lot of the patron's palates as well.   So I keep the shelves stocked with rums from all of the types in order to turn a profit for my owners in the real tasting competition which is the marketplace of what I am able sell.   Where do you fit in to this debate?  ;o)