Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween AgainTime for a Pumpkin Cocktail

     It is that nutty night of horror and creepy people running the streets.  For me at the end of the docks that have no children living on it I seem to be exempt from all of the creepy things visiting.  Not that I don't care for this yearly event, but I really don't enjoy people banging on the boat wanting junk passed out, but I don't.

     Stay home or have a few friends over and scare each other out your wits, seems like a fun time.  Here is an idea for a fun Halloween evening of costumes and party time.  Pumpkins seem to be all the rage for this day, so lets look at a pumpkin cocktail to go with it.   I came a cross a Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer and came up with an idea for a fun Halloween Chiller Cocktail.

Pumpkin Patch Cocktail
  • 1 1/2 oz. Selvarey Cacao Rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. Florida Old Reserve Rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. Nestle Coffee Mate Pumpkin Spice Creamer
Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice shake until chilled and strain into a 12 oz. glass filled with ice.  Garnish with fresh ground cinnamon.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It is About Time to "Fall Back" Again

     Daylight Savings Time is about to go away for another year, making it officially fall in my mind anyway.  It is time for a cocktail fit for the season.  It needs to be a mixture of the tropics and the mainland, so here we go.  I've just created this little cocktail to get us out of "Pumpkin Time".  Fall is about apple cider and the flavors of the tropics as well, bringing an end to summer beach times and the start of a colorful season of holidays and changing seasons.

Fall in the Caribbean
  • 2 oz. Flor de Caya 7 Year Old Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Agave Nectar
  • 1 oz. Apple Juice
  • 1 oz. DeKuyper Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. Dry Curacao

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a 12 oz. glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar and garnish with apple slices .
    Lets take advantage of the short days and long nights to play with new ideas for fun cocktails and great relaxation on the aft deck or in front of the fireplace.  It doesn't matter where you are, just that you are using your time wisely and trying out new and fun ideas.  ;o)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Drinking Alcohol for the Over 60 Set Could Boost Your Memory

Light alcohol consumption by people over the age of 60 could enhance their abilities to remember events, a new study has found.   
     For us that fit into the over 60 set, this is really good news,  I guess that my couple of cocktails at the Hurricane Hole after work are what helps me remember to write my blog each morning and show up at work on time as well.  This is a really good thing.  I'm glad that I noticed the article.
Two over 60 boys having a cocktail
You might want to drink a brew or two when you hit that AARP-age range. A new study revealed that drinking alcohol after the age of 60 can help strengthen your memory.
     Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston, University of Kentucky, and University of Maryland found that among people ages 60 and older who don't have dementia, light to moderate alcohol consumption can produce a higher episodic memory- the ability to recall memories of events, according to FOX News. Moderate drinking is considered a maximum of two alcoholic beverages a day.
     The study was published in the American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias. It revealed that moderate alcohol consumption was also linked to a larger volume in the hippocampus, a brain region critical for episodic memory, according to a UTMB press release.
     "This may be due to the fact that adults who are able to continue consuming alcohol into old age are healthier, and therefore have higher cognition and larger regional brain volumes, than people who had to decrease their alcohol consumption due to unfavorable health outcomes," Downer said in the press release.
     Having five or more alcoholic beverages at once can negatively affect the brain, which could be why some people might wake up the next morning and barely remember a thing from the night before.




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Craft Distilling?

St. Nicolas Abbey Small Batch Craft Still
     With all of the class action suits going on over Tito's Vodka's use of the word "Homemade" I find it very interesting that there is no "legal" definition for "Craft Distilling".  This article I found in "The Spirits Business" does a good job of exploring the subject.

     When Diageo announced its confidence at the end of last year that it could become the number-one craft distiller in North American whiskey, there were more than a few puzzled expressions in the spirits industry.

      Some believed the drinks colossus was tainting the seemingly pure values of the craft sector, flippantly adopting them in mere marketing trickery for its new Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company, which bottles “forgotten” whiskies and markets the product under a new name. Others viewed the move as positive for growth in an industry that suffers from small budgets, red tape and a lack of aged stock.

     The news and its reaction perfectly summarized the ongoing craft spirits conundrum: in a sector with no overarching national or international regulations, how do you decipher crafty marketing from the genuine article?

     What is clear is that craft spirits have experienced a renaissance across the globe, something which many have attributed to – as Chip Tate, head distiller at Texas Bourbon distillery Balcones, puts it – “a return to older values. In the US in particular, there’s a sense that whiskies and other spirits are no longer just commodities. This is in an industry which has been driven by marketing and not necessarily by content for a long time. But that is now changing.”

Craft on the rise

Key West's Chef Distilling Still
     For others, the growth of craft spirits is the result of the general premiumization trend taking hold across the industry. As Michael Kinstlick says in his paper The US Craft Distilling Market: 2011 and
Beyond: “Often consolidation to a few large firms in an industry creates opportunities for new, smaller entrants to fill market niches and reach customers large producers cannot.”

     In sum, craft brands have the ability to fill a consumer desire that cannot be satiated by big businesses. In the US, the number of new craft distilleries has increased near enough every year since 2007, despite the worldwide economic downturn. There are now 636 craft distilleries operating in the US and, although this represents huge growth compared with the 24 working craft distilleries in 2000, the sector still only produces about 1% of the total spirits sold.

     It is in this exclusive marketplace that larger corporations are beginning to make tracks. But
questions abound whether these drinks giants have any place in the small entrepreneurial world of craft spirits. Although in the minds of the many, the term “craft” should be reserved for small-batch, independent producers, no labelling laws exist to prevent Diageo or Rémy Cointreau from slapping it on their bottles.

The closest the industry has come to gaining “official” certification is the criteria provided by the American Distilling Institute (ADI), which stipulates: “Craft spirits are the products of an independently owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,000 cases where the product is physically distilled and bottled on-site.”

“Fair game”

     Executives at the ADI are currently applying to the US Patent and Trademark Office to have its definition officially recognised by government; however, until then, craft spirits labelling is fair game. Larger companies have been quick to defend their craft credentials, claiming that in the face of conflicting and unofficial definitions, they have an important part to play in the movement.

     “The conversations and debates occurring around the craft sector are part of what is making this incredible growth period for whiskey so much fun,” says Ewan Morgan, master of whiskey at Diageo’s Orphan Barrel.

     “Everyone has their own opinion and should have the right to voice it. Craft is about artisanship, passion, experience, great liquid and great products. Not all small distilleries are craft, and not all craft distilleries are small.”

     Sean Harrison, head distiller at Chivas Brothers’ Plymouth Gin, similarly believes that, in the wider gin industry, distillers in both independent and larger companies abide by the “exact same values”.

Big producer prejudice

Angostura High Volume Column Stills
     Speaking to The Spirits Business earlier this year, Harrison said: “Artisan and craft brands are great, but most gins are handmade and follow the same principles. It’s the nature of the beast that people might have some prejudice towards these bigger companies and have a belief they might not be in the business for the right reasons.”

     This thought has even been reiterated throughout the craft industry, with producers willing to acknowledge the virtues of large scale production. “The distillers across the mainstream and craft sectors are a nice family,” says Jonathan Clark, director of the City of London Distillery. “Instead of being direct competitors, we all help each other and, although there’s a huge difference between what we do, neither one is wrong.”

     The industry therefore appears not to be dividing itself into craft and non-craft, authentic and disingenuous, but what most members of the sector want is honest labelling. As Tate puts it: “All too often, the level of disclosure on bottles claiming to be craft is not enough and as a consumer, you have to ask the right questions about the brands. It’s not a bad thing to source liquid from a third party, but brands should represent themselves truthfully.”


Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 Fantasy Fest is Now Behind Us.

     Fantasy Fest in 2014 was for the "die hard" partyer, the rain that took over on Monday and lasted until Friday morning was a lot of what it was really about.  Friday afternoon the sun returned and every one came out to play.   Friday evening as I was heading home from the Rum Bar after a very busy day, I say the painted bodies and the costumes out in full swing.   This is the Fantasy Fest that I expected to see all week.  With the return of the great Key West weather, the party was on for the "People's Parade" and the "street Party later in the evening.

   The Grand Finale Parade started at 7:00 pm on Saturday and the crowds were there in force to revel in the fun and oddity of the floats and spectators along Duval Street.   
There will be literally Thousands and thousands of beads being tossed from the floats and by the marchers and the reveler's necks will be bent from the sheer weight of all of them they have caught.

    I'm really glad to see the weather finally clearing and the fun of Fantasy Fest really enjoyed by all of those that came to town for the event.  It is behind us now and the plans are already being made for next year's by many that are here now.   I hope that those that came down had a really fun time here in spite of the weather, and I look forward to everyone returning next year.  ;o)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"

This week has been the most continuous rain that I have ever seen in my 9 years down here in Key West.  The really bad thing about it isn't the rain, but the timing of the arrival of the rain with this years Fantasy Fest events.  The good news is that the people down here came to party and they did so in spite of the weather.  Oh well, here's to better weather next year, at least it wasn't cancelled like it was in 2005 by a "Wilma" size storm.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Fantasy Fest Finale Tonight

     The Fantasy Fest parade rolls down Duval Street beginning at 7pm today here in Key West.

      The Fantasy Fest 3 Wishes .Com Parade winds through the world famous Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Brightly decorated floats and wildly costumed participants entertain the thousands and  thousands of spectators lining Duval Street in the grand finale of the 2014 Fantasy Fest Week.

     Even the weather is promising to cooperate with tonight’s spectacular.   Make sure that you get there early to get you spot on the street and find a place to park your car.  This is the event that no one wants to miss.  The hoards of people will arrive early and the party will keep on rolling until the street sweepers start of clean up the debris of the parade afterward.

     Even though this year’s Fantasy Fest has been plagued with crappy weather, the spirits of the revelers has not.   There has been a really good turnout for the events this year inspite of the weather.     Hope to see many of you at the parade tonight, as usual, I’ll be manning the satellite bar in front to the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn on Duval Street.  Stop by and say hello and/or have a cocktail during the parade.  ;o)

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Growth of Rum Becoming Polarized

Orijenes 30 Year
     “There’s a move away from a low-cost image,” Frank Quinones, now managing director of Botran Aged Rums, told The Spirits Business earlier this year. “Three or four years ago, rum was rum. Now people are more knowledgeable about rum. They read about it, they want to improve their rum experience.”
     Despite spotting an opportunity at the aspirational end of the category, producers are still grasping tightly onto the volumes proffered by rum’s spiced cousin. This year Pernod Ricard made a significant move for the space still very much available in the burgeoning spiced rum arena with "Malibu Island Spiced", while Diageo has extended its Captain Morgan range with the punchier Black Spiced and limited edition Sherry Oak Finish Spiced, in an attempt to diversify the category.

     Here is the thing, yes there is a move not only by rum producers to move into the "premium spirit" category, but the roots remain firmly planted in the flavored and spiced bulk rums.   So many of the brands that are working on premium rums are also pounding out volumes of cheap spiced and flavored rums as well. 

     I think that this contradiction is going to lead to the slowing of the premiumization of the category and do more to emphasize the cheap image that rum already has.   There is a market and a large group of people being lost to whiskey, because they are not being made aware of the fine quality and fine taste that rums have to offer because too many brands are "quick and easy fakes" of what real aged premium rums should be.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Soggy 2014 Fantasy Fest Doesn't Dampen the Festivities

    The big story so far for the 2014 Fantasy Fest here in Key West is having "tropical depression #9" putting a real damper on the events here in Key West.   The prognosticators are calling for 80% to 90% chances for rain, thunderstorms and street flooding through Saturday morning.  This is not a really good thing for the events of Fantasy Fest.  The really good news is that it is not looking good for any development beyond a tropical depression.  The real problem with "Tropical Depression #9", is it is a huge rain producer.   With local amounts of rain up to 9 or 10 inches, local street flooding is a real possibility.

     The other good news is that the rain is suppose to stop by noon time on Saturday and giving us a
good chance for a fun and relatively dry night for the parade.  This is not the first time that we have had a wet Fantasy Fest, we still come to party, and partying is what we do rain or shine.   I remember walking in 8 to 10" deep water one Thursday night of Fantasy Fest in 2007, and the party still went on.  I think that is what makes this event go on and on and on.  It is one of the really solidly supported events in Key West every year.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

7000 Zombies Invade Key West

     This years event has grown by another 2000 riders over last years event, but I don't see any end to the growth in the near future. Chris and his people at "We Cycle" have done it again .  This has in a very short time become one of the premier events of the Fantasy Fest week here in Key West.  

     It is a mile or more of zombies on bicycles having a
really fun evening riding, eating and partying.  It is a chance for the young and the old to be involved in a Fantasy Fest event that can be joined  by the entire family.

     The zombies wound from the East Martello starting point next to the Key West Airport and wound
along the beach to Duval Street where they finished at a street party on the North end of Duval Street.  When it was all said and don, 7000 zombies invaded Key West and the undead took over the town for a "zombie ride" that brought a lot of smiles to the people of Key West.  ;o)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Turning a Classic to a Rum Ricky

     The Rickey is a highball drink made from gin or bourbon, half of a lime squeezed and dropped in the glass, and carbonated water. Little or no sugar is added to the Rickey. Originally created with bourbon in Washington, D.C.  at Shoomaker's bar by bartender George A. Williamson in the 1880s, purportedly in collaboration with Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey, it became a worldwide sensation when mixed with gin a decade later.
     Working from the original bourbon version of the Rickey, here is a very nice version that I was able to create that is very tasty.
The Rum Rickey
  • 2 oz. Zafra Rum
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Agave Nectar
  • Top up with Club Soda
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Strain into a 12 oz. tumbler filled with fresh ice.