Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Bunch in Havana

     Seeing that a group of Cuban refugees landed here in Key West safely a few days ago set my mind wandering to my days of walking through  the streets of Havana and seeing people gathering in the squares for lunch.  Most of the squares are in front of  the wonderful cathedrals throughout the city.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sugar: An Addictive Drug Like Alcohol and Tobacco?

     According to a senior Dutch health official, soft drinks should carry health warnings much like the ones on tobacco products.   Paul Van Der Velpen, head of the Amsterdam Health Service was quoted as saying, "Just like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is actually a drug. There is an important role for government. The use of sugar should be discouraged. And users should be made aware of the dangers,"  

Many of the energy bars rely on sugar for the energy
    There is pressure being applied to legislators in Holland to place extra taxes and regulations on sugar and the amount of sugar being used by the food industry.   The point that they are making is some what of a valid one, because it is a lot easier to put down a bag of vegetables than it is to set aside a bag of cookies.
Up to 41 grams per liter of sugar

     I guess that when you combine sugar with alcohol, whether it be added to the liquor at the distillery, or you add it to your cocktail you are looking at a double whammy.  

     My feeling on the subject are very simple, I believe that a limited amount of sugar in your life is fine, it is like so many other things that it is so easy to over indulge on, you need to exercise some self control and use things in moderation rather than being a glutton.   For me, I like a good cocktail, but I avoid the ones that have  ingredients in the mixes or spirits that are loaded with sugar or even worse high fructose corn syrup.  You can get great flavors from the sweetness found naturally in juices and fruits without adding all of the sugar  Read your labels, you will be surprised how much sugar is contained in many "healthy" products.
Fruit Juices more sugar than a candy bar in most cases

     Just keep things in perspective and use your head when it comes to the over use of anything, whether it be alcohol, sugar or anything else.  ;o)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tasting Results From International Rum Conference in Madrid, Spain

     The 2014 Rum Festival in Madrid, Spain is concluded and the results from the tasting competition compiled and here you have the winners for 2014.   There were a number of seminars, conferences and days of judging during the Third Annual International Congress Ron de Madrid.   Madrid will host the 2015 edition again in June.   "The "IV International Congress Ron de Madrid", for which we  from have the support of the entire rum industry."


Thursday, August 28, 2014

El Presidente: The Lost Cuban Cocktail

Jockey Club
     Every now and again I run across one of the old classic cocktails from Prohibition in Cuba.   Cuba was the hub for sophisticated Americans to travel for fun and legal cocktails during of "The Great Experiment" that lasted from 1920 until 1933.   Many of the famous cocktail lounges and showrooms make Old Havana the Las Vegas of that era.   Out of this era came many famous cocktails, many of which are still very popular today.  One of the lost cocktails of the era was the El Presidente.

     This cocktail is believed to have been invented by an American barman at the Jockey Club in Old Havana named Eddie Woelke.  During that era, Old Havana was alive with American celebrities, aristocrats and politicians.  People Like Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Spencer Tracy and many more would flock to Havana to enjoy the nightlife and legal booze.  El Presidente was one of the very popular cocktails of those days, but today it seems to have gotten lost in the era of Vodka and speed bar cocktails.

     The El Presidente  has all of the true classic ultra premium cocktail hallmarks, the true flavor is only attained when it is made with the proper ingredients, cheap versions just kill its marvelous flavor.  Basil Woon, one of the society correspondents of the era call it the "aristocrat of cocktails", and there were many others who were of the same opinion when it came to the El Presidente.

El Presidente  (Original Recipe)
  • 1 1/2 oz. Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Curacao
  • 3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 tsp. Grenadine
Stir ingredients well with cracked ice then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Color should pour a clear deep orange color, garnish with an orange peel.

Bahama Bob's El Presidente
  • 1 1/2 oz. Diplomatico Blanco Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 3/4 oz. Dolin de Chambery Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 Tsp. Dekuypers Pomegranate Liqueur
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake until chilled.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and float a twisted orange peel for a garnish.

     This is a wonderfully dry cocktail, not one for people with a sweet palate, but a very nice and very flavorful one anyway.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Holiday Heart Syndrome

     I received an email from Julie Bowen today about something that I believe I say happen to a
customer of mine from the Tampa area last spring.   After a day of drinking and partying here in Key West, he wound up in the hospital with chest pains.  This is a very real problem and one that you need to be aware of when you are out partying while on holiday anytime

How Alcohol Increases Your Risk of ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome’ 

     Scientists have long been aware that heavy drinking increases the odds of heart failure. Although there are health risks, no one has pinned downed the trigger factor that leads an alcoholic to cardiac arrhythmias.

     A new study from Sweden now suggests that moderate to heavy consumption of wine and liquor increases the risk for atrial fibrillation, a condition also known as ‘Holiday Heart Syndrome.’
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
     Atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat, is a quivering of the heart that causes chest pain, shortness of breath and increases the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Usually it occurs in periodic episodes, but atrial fibrillation may last for several days. Atrial fibrillation can occur among people who don’t drink as well, but it is more common in alcohol drinkers.

Details of the Study
     In the 12-year-long study, Swedish researchers kept track of a group of 79,016 adults between the ages of 45 and 83. In the end they discovered 12,554 cases of atrial fibrillation out of this population. The results showed an increase in irregular heartbeat for moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages, which is considered to be one to three drinks per day.
     Furthermore the risk of fibrillation increased by 8 percent with each alcoholic drink consumed. The people who drank the most were 50 percent more likely to develop an arrhythmia.
     Interestingly enough the subjects that chose to drink beer, rather than wine or alcohol, did not seem to be at as high of a risk. There was no direct relationship found between binge drinking beer and atrial fibrillation.

     Susanna C. Larsson, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, was lead author of the study. She thinks the new findings about beer may have to do with the time of the week it is consumed.
     According to Larsson, “It is likely that beer is consumed more regularly during the week, whereas wine and liquor is more often consumed during weekends only. Adverse effects of alcohol on atrial fibrillation risk may be less pronounced if alcohol consumption is spread out over the week compared with consumption of larger amounts of alcohol during a few days per week.”
      The research was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
     There is controversy amid health care professionals over whether light to moderate consumption of alcohol leads to atrial fibrillation. However most agree that moderate to heavy alcohol abuse is a leading cause of heart problems – no matter what you’re drinking.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Labor Day Weekend is This Week

Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River
     The traditional end of summer and the kids going back to school weekend, but like so many other things in this world it too has changed.   I still will always remember the family packing all of the camping gear into the station wagon and heading up to the high Sierra's for a three day weekend of camping along the Stanislaus River.   The good news was it was a really fun time of hiking and trout fishing, but the bad news was Tuesday morning all of the summer freedom was gone and we were back in school.
Relief Reservoir
     There were several resorts along the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River from which you could head into the wilderness areas and really enjoy some beautiful views.  The entire area is from 600o' to 10,000 feet and the stars and the clear skies are just breathe taking.   Hiking or horseback riding the trail into the back country is one of the best parts or the weekend of exploration.  The untouched beauty of this area is still the same today, and will hopefully continue to be this way in this time of so many changes elsewhere.

     Here in Key West, Labor Day weekend is going to be a fun one, but in a very different way.  It is going to be loaded with people that I will be entertaining and hopefully making there long weekend a little bit more fun.   It is different from my experiences when I was young, but it is still Labor Day Weekend and a time for fun no matter how you choose to use the time.  You might want to take a cruise on out Prohibition era black boat on this labor day holiday  ;)

Monday, August 25, 2014

The 12 Bottle Bar: Your Home Bar Cocktail Guide

     With some 260 plus rums on my bar and a few of everything else, it can be a daunting task just to figure out what I want to use to create a cocktail in the evening or afternoon.  here is a new bar guide that I think has brought the home bar back into perspective.   "The 12 Bottle Bar
, by David and Lesley Solmonson, advises consumers to stock seven spirits, one liqueur, two vermouths and two bitters to create the perfect home bar."  It offers a brief history of each spirit style, why it should be included in your bar, and several recipes.   There is also a guide at the back of the book on how to serve cocktails and a selection of virgin recipes.
    "The 12 Bottle Bar" really makes sense to me for a small house bar.  It includes a white and Amber rum, a brandy, dry gin, Genever,  rye whiskey, vodka, orange liqueur (triple Sec), dry vermouth, sweet vermouth aromatic bitters and orange bitters.   

     "Obviously the main spirits (vodka, gin, rum, brandy, whiskey) need to be included, the choice from there is the brand.   The accent liqueurs were a challenge within themselves. My decision was primarily founded in how often is a certain liqueur used in the greatest number of cocktails or cocktails where the liqueur can act as a substitute for another. After that list, it’s back to choosing a brand. With a well-stocked supply of essential mixers this list can make at least 100 different cocktails."
     The book retails around $10 and is a really nice guide to making cocktails at home with a very minimal space and outlay for the bar stock.   Which brands of spirits you choose can raise or lower the cost of stocking your bar, but even "well spirits" work out for mixed cocktails.  If your palate is tuned to the better spirits by all means put them in your bar.
     "Genever" threw up a question flag for me, but it does make sense once you know what it is.  Genever enables bartenders to work with the authentic flavours of the past to recreate the true classic cocktails the way they were meant to taste.   The whisky-like malt tones of Genever make it also perfect to drink it straight, on the rocks, or in ‘regular’ easy mixed cocktail.  It adds the malt flavor to cocktails with out using scotch.
     I think that this is a perfect starter book for someone to put together a small home bar, and it will surprise you all of the cocktails that you can create with just 12 bottles.  ;o)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beautiful Day Sharing the Ocean

     It was a beautiful day for a cruise out to the west of Key West and follow along the string of Keys that lead you out to Boca Grande and the Atlantic Ocean.   Today we were lucky enough to have clear waters and the company of a pod of dolphins.  These creatures are such wonderful mammals that love to play in the boat wakes as we travel along.  I find them to be just plain entertaining as well as beautiful..

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Key West Brewing Up for Labor Day Weekend

     The 5th Annual Key West Brewfest in scheduled to happen next week here in Key West.  A full slate of events are set to keep you going all weekend long.
  See the schedule at .   

     The 5th Annual Key West Brewfest  featuring more than 150 different beers, including many or call 305-295-6519.

award-winning microbrews. Events include seminars, tastings, pool parties, and meals.  The premiere  event is the Signature Tasting on Saturday, August 31 at South Beach ($75 per person for that event, advance tickets required). For more information, visit

     labor Day weekend is always a fun weekend here in Key west and the addition of the Brewfest just adds more color to an already crazy weekend.  Hope to see many of you here in Key West over the long holiday weekend.  ;o)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Just Hangin' at the Marina

     Today is a day off, and I decided to just hang out today here at home in the marina.  I find that once in a while I have to just kick back and do very little.  It is a chance to recharge my batteries and get ready for another week on Duval Street.   I love the time I spend with all my customers at the Rum Bar.   All of the excitement and craziness there, but every now and again, I need to step back and take it easy for a day or two.

     I find that by just laying around the boat and watching all of the birds and the beautiful things that surround me puts my mind back to a place of comfort and stresslessness.   Today was one of those days where I needed to just put the body in neutral and just be for a time.

     I found myself walking up and down the docks and watching the skies and the glassy water.   An unusual flock of "Frigate Birds" appeared over the marina.  I find them so fascinating, I have seen them in Mexico, the Virgin Islands and many other tropical places and they never cease to amaze me.  They look like something out of Jurassic Park, and turn out to be incredible fishermen as well.   Local fishermen will watch for them overhead as a sign of a school of fish  and a place to anchor.

As the day slips away into the evening the sky again puts on another display of artistry as the sun begins to head for the horizon and turn this day of bliss into night.  ;o)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Periodista: What?

     What in the world is a Periodista?  The name is Spanish for Journalist it is a cocktail that  you probably have never heard of before.  It has the style of a daiquiri, lending some credence to the stories that it originated in Cuba during the 20’s or 30’s.   This is one of the oddities of cocktail history, a drink created in Cuba, lost for many years resurfaced in the early days of this century in Boston.   So when Devin Hahn first tried it, he could have been forgiven for taking it fora true rum classic.    There really isn't very much information out there about the Periodista. 
   Devin Hahn had been looking for an excuse to write about cocktails in Boston and with the Periodista, he found a drink offered in every other bar of the city but about which very little was known.  
According to David Hahn,  The Periodista’s a classic Cuban cocktail, they told me.   Hemingway drank them at El Floridita in Havana.   Esquire Magazine revived it in the ‘50s. American reporters sucked back Periodistas during the Cuban Missile Crisis.   This drink was the stuff of legend.”
     The oldest known printed recipe comes from the 1948 Club de Cantineros book.    Devin Hahn suggests we prepare Charles Schumann's version, from his American Bar book (which seems to have been the only printed recipe available in English for a very long time). 

Periodista  (Charles Schumann Version)
·         45 ml Havana Club Añejo 3 años 
·         7,5 ml Triple sec 
·         7,5 ml Apricot brandy 
·         1 bar spoon of sugar 
·         Juice from ½ lime 
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. 

Bahama Bob’s Periodista
·         2 oz. Plantation 3 Star White Rum
·         1 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
·         1 oz. Apricot Brandy
·         ½ oz.  Cane Syrup (Sweetener)
·         Juice of ½ Lime
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge

     This is a very tasty daiquiri like cocktail that I found to be wonderful for an afternoon or early evening libation.  I found it to be very refreshing and fit my taste to a “T”.   I found that I could make it with and without the sweetener and be great for my palate.  If you want a “skinny” version try ½ packet of “Sweeta” artificial sugar.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Different Alcohols Are the Drunks Really Different?

   I don't usually just reprint an article that was done by other authors, but this on I feel warrants running.  It deals with the different effects of different alcohols on different people.  Robbie Gonzales
did a great job of looking into the subject.  I found it to be very interesting, and I hope that you do as well.

Robbie Gonzalez

When your friend gets tipsy and starts rambling about how tequila turns her into a savage party monster, and then your other friend vehemently calls bullshit, calmly put your hands up and say this: "Friends. Please. I got this." And then explain to them what I'm about to explain to you.

First off: alcohol is alcohol – which is to say that the alcohol in wine is the same as the alcohol in beer is the same as the alcohol in the unholy red-cup concoction at a dorm room game of King's Cup. That alcohol is ethyl alcohol, aka ethanol, and it'll get you drunk. The fact that liquor tends to contain higher concentrations of ethanol than wine, and wine higher concentrations than beer, means that the same volume of different alcoholic beverages will get you more/less drunk, ergo the "standard drink" rule, as defined by the National Institutes of Health:

In the United States, a "standard" drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of "pure" alcohol. Although the drinks below are different sizes, each contains approximately the same amount of alcohol and counts as a single standard drink.

The standard drink model suggests that when it comes to behavioral effects, the only difference between a can of beer and a shot of whiskey is the mode of delivery. Ounce-for-ounce, an 80-proof shot of MaCallan's is a much more efficient ethanol-delivery system than a can of Bud Light. If you down a few shots of the former really quickly, you'll experience a rapid spike in your blood alcohol level, and, presumably, a rapid drop in your inhibition, sense of propriety, and so-forth. But any perceived difference between the drunk you feel from the liquor and the drunk you feel from beer has to do with the rate at which you consumed the ethanol, not the beverage via which you consumed it.

But what about hard alcohols that are comparable in ethanol concentration, and therefore equally efficient at getting you drunk? According to the Alcohol Is Alcohol argument, 80-proof tequila should have the same effect on you as 80-proof vodka, rum, gin or whiskey. Yet we all know someone who insists that tequila makes them wild, that whiskey makes them angry, or that gin makes them sad. Why is that?

One possible explanation: mixers. Lots of people shoot tequila straight, whereas rum is commonly taken in tandem with something else – cola, for example. If you're combining gin with tonic, or vodka with something super-caffeinated like Red Bull, who's to say the drunk you're experiencing is due to the alcohol, and not because of what you're drinking with it?

Another explanation: congeners. Congeners are byproducts of the fermentation and distillation process, and include chemicals like acetone, acetaldehyde, and esters – not to mention forms of alcohol other than ethanol. Different alcoholic beverages contain different types and quantities of congeners, so even though 80-proof vodka, rum and gin all contain the same amount of ethanol, their congener content can vary considerably. This variation contributes mainly to tan alcohol's colors and flavors, but may or may not also have an effect on the "flavor" of drunkenness it imparts – the lackluster (but still technically valid) justification being that different chemicals affect everyone differently, in ways we may not fully understand.* Take coffee, for example: we know it makes you have to poop, but we really aren't clear on why that is.


"Certain congeners are also thought to cause more unpleasant hangovers, though experiments with animal models have shown that fusel oil – a congener found in whiskey – may actually alleviate the after-effects of heavy drinking, contrary to common belief."   Some rum producers spend a lot of time removing the fusel oils from rums, and others don't.  It is a belief that the fusel oil adds flavor to the mix by people in some circles.    ;o)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reviving Old Classics with Rum

I am always looking for different ways to use rum, and taking some of the old classic cocktails and reworking them with rum yields some of the most rewarding results.  Here are three that I really like with the conversions.

Rum Manhattan
  • 2 1/2 oz. Doorly's XO Rum
  • 1 oz. of Extra Dry Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes of Fee Bros. Bitters
Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Strain into a cocktail glass and float a lemon zest on the top.

Rum Sidecar
  • 1 1/2 oz. Plantation 20th Anniversary Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon zest.

Rum Old Fashion
  • 2 1/2 oz.  Pampero Aniversario Rum
  • 3 dashes of Fee Brothers Bitters
  • 1 cube of Sugar
  • 1 tsp. water
In an Old Fashion Glass, muddle sugar, bitters and water until sugar has dissolved, add rum and fill glass with ice.  Garnish with an Orange peel.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"From Jamaica With Love"

     This campaign is the first since Gruppo Campari took over distribution of Appleton in 2013.  This is the first major new marketing campaign for Appleton Estate in some time.  The campaign was officially announced on 6 August in conjunction with the Jamaica Independence Day.  The day was commemorated by Appleton Estate in 2012 with the introduction of the  50 year old Appleton Estate Rum that commemorated 50 years of Jamaican Independence.  The video of the ad is very good and shows the real Jamaica and a great promotion for the rum.

   The From Jamaica “With Love” campaign features images and videos of the “authentic, undiscovered Jamaica”, its people and the craftsmanship behind Appleton Estate rum, each of which is accompanied by Jamaican sayings such as “Everything Come From Scratch” and “A Shut Eye See Nothing New”.
    Andrew Floor, senior marketing director, dark spirits at Campari America, said: “This new marketing campaign allows us to offer consumers a window into an authentic Jamaica – a Jamaica that delivers rum with a distinctive, rich and complex flavor found nowhere else in the world.”
     The video element of the campaign, named “Anthem”, which has been created in collaboration with Sharethrough, features music and lyrics by Jamaican musician Brushy One String, as well as Appleton Estate’s talented coopers.
     The out-of-home aspect will be rolled out to key US markets including Austin, Atlanta, Miami, Portland and Columbus.
     The ad video can be seen at
Take a look at what they have done and you might be surprised at the ad.  It is really a great ad and a good idea for the promotion of Appleton Estate Aged Rums.  ;o)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Brilliant Sunsets of August, So Exciting to See

     August nights and the sun and the clouds light up the sky.  With the humidity of summer here in the Keys, sunsets are especially colorful.  It highlights the reds and the oranges as the sun drops into the ocean at the end of the day.   I sets the sky on fire and makes the clouds light up in a spectacular manner most every night.  Mother Nature shows her artistry in so many ways every day down here in the tropics, with the sky water and the land as her canvas.  ;o)