Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 The Last Hurrah!

     2014 has been a very interesting year for me.  I have not traveled as much as I would like to have, but obligations too a fair amount of my time this year.  I did get to know the Florida Keys a little bit better as I took more tine to explore close to home.  

     I am looking forward to 2015 and a chance to do more traveling and see more rum related locales.   I know that I want to return again to Cuba and Spend some time in the area of Santiago de Cuba and Visit the old Bacardi Distillery that is now producing rums like Santiago de Cuba Rum and others.  I also hope to make it to Guyana and visit the historic distilleries of Demerara and their El Dorado Rums.

     I plan to make more time to be able to create new and exciting stories of rum and festivals to celebrate the spirits of the sugar cane.   2014 was a really fine year, but it is time to do more around the rum world as well as the tropics to make 2015 absolutely spectacular.  ;o)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rum: Casting Off its Party Image with Super-Premium Expressions.

     Over the past few years, the rum industry has suffered at the hands of other categories, due in part from the image of pirate swagger of low to middle grade expressions and a real lacking of the real premium expressions within the category.   Here lately in the past few years there has been a growth in the ultra premium portions of the Rum Category.  

     The Spirits Business has a great article that covering the growth of this part of the category.

     Rum brands are taking premiumisation seriously, but which will be the ones to watch in 2015?  Rum is frequently cast with the same party image as Tequila, and similarly for some time now, rum producers have sought to shake this reputation and entice a new generation of aspirational drinkers.  It is no secret that consumer knowledge across the spirits spectrum is growing, and with that so is their desire for more top-end offerings, with rum being no exception to the rule.

     Earlier this year Diageo’s Ed Pilkington made the statement that the rum category has “lost its soul” in nightclubs and “fallen behind” other spirits categories as a result of its “devaluing” association with the international nightclub scene. His solution?  Premiumisation to “bring it back to its roots” expressing companies should be targeting “connoisseurs, not clubbers”. Unfortunately for rum, emerging market consumers hungry for more premium products are migrating to other more “fashionable” categories such as light brandy in the Philippines and whisky in India, both of which contributed to a 2.9% volume decline for rum last year (IWSR).  However, in an effort to move the category in the desired direction there has been an array of new launches in 2014. Bacardi said it hoped to premiumize the category “as a whole” with the launch of a new super-premium white sipping rum in global travel retail, Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron.

The Party Continues

     Furthermore the brand increased its footprint in the flavored rum department with the launch of Bacardi Mango Fusion. But the brand is certainly not shying away from rum’s party persona – quite the opposite. Not too long ago, 1,862 fans were flown to the Bermuda Triangle for one of the world’s most elaborate events featuring music from Calvin Harris, Kendrick Lamar and Ellie Goulding.  Meanwhile, spiced rum is continuing to grow in popularity and stealing focus from white rum, which was always had a solid starting point among new rum drinkers. As such, UK boutique drinks distributor Maverick launched what it claims is the world’s first super-premium spiced rum, Rumbullion! XO. Also making headway in the spiced rum market is Lamb’s Navy Rum, which is set to launch a Spiced Cherry expression and a range of super-premium dark rums in the New Year. A smart move, perhaps, considering the UK’s rum market bucked the trend of decline, with quarterly sales up 6% and flavored rum in particular soaring by 34% according to Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) figures. The organization stated a trend of premiumisation was apparent providing “hope that the market may finally be turning a corner”.

     It is my firm belief that the future of rum is a two prong path, we still need the party, but the premium and ultra premium expression will give the category the strength to be take serious in the world of spirits.    ;o)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bahia Honda: Flowers, Butterflies and Birds

     These past few weeks I have had the pleasure of "camping" at Bahia Honda State Park, here in the Florida Keys.   This park will take many more visits to really get the feel for all that there is to see here.  Today I would like to let you look and a few of the December flowers, butterflies, and birds that the park boasts for the holidays.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Surrounded with a Swirling Pod of Fish

     Sitting in the marina looking down at the fish pod that has shown up at the Side of Lil' Sanity here at Bahia Honda Marina.  Very impressive pod of yellow tail, snapper and mullet gathering at the boat.   This is the stuff that makes my visit to all of these places so special.   ;o)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Premium Cachaca to Save the Catagory

     Cachaca in the United States only popular in a small sector of the market, but there is a movement afloat to try and improve the image that Cachaca has.   Like so many other category of spirits, it takes a premium expression of the spirit for it to have any reputation that that will be able to sustain the product.  
      A closer and a slow but pervasive trend of premiumisation can be spotted, slowly redefining the category by challenging old prejudices and adding incremental value. Despite a 6.2% value decline in 2013, the cachaça category has grown by US$2.2bn in the last five years, a staggering increase of over 2,500%.   “There’s a lot of opportunity for cachaça in terms of value growth,” adds Malandrakis. “But the only hope for volume growth is that it merely stabilizes at this stage.”  
This move towards premiumisation in the category has undoubtedly been aided by the involvement of international spirits groups such as Diageo. Seduced by the allure of such a voluminous sector with prime opportunities for premiumisation – as well as access to one of world’s most coveted emerging markets – the group spent US$450m (£278m) acquiring Ypióca in 2012.
“Diageo saw an opportunity to form an alliance in Brazil,” says Daan Dekroon, export director for Ypióca. “The company chose a brand which has high-quality liquid and is versatile. We do not want to be seen as the poor man’s drink; we want to premiumize the category in terms of taste and packaging. We have a vision to do something different with Ypióca.”
     Life is really good on a hot afternoon at the lake or at sea sipping on a nice Caiparinha made with a fine premium cachaca.
Bahama Bob's Caiparinha
  • 2 oz. Premium Cachaca
  • 1/2 oz. Agave Nectar or Cane Syrup
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
Squeeze a fresh lime half into a rocks glass filled with ice, add sweetener and Cachaca.  Shake until chilled and strain back into a rocks glass rimmed with sugar in the raw and filled with fresh ice, add a splash of club soda.  Garnish with a lime wheel.


Friday, December 26, 2014

U.S. Rum War between Bacardi and Pernod Ricard

     With President Obama's executive order to bring back diplomatic relations with Cuba, come the potential for a rum ware between tow of the largest producers of rum in the world.  Bacardi and Pernod Ricard will be back at it over the "Havana Club" brand name.  Below are excerpts of and article I ran across in the
     Forget a real war with Cuba. Enter the prospect of a rum war.   With the Cold War in the rear view mirror, President Obama's decision to loosen American trade restrictions on Cuba has made a diplomatic détente possible-but could also set off a corporate skirmish with potentially billions of dollars at stake.   It all has to do with the Cuban rum Havana Club, which was first manufactured in the 19th century. Following the Cuban revolution in the late 1950s, the communist government seized the brand's distillery, without compensation. But communist cadres aren't natural rum-makers, so the regime began a partnership with French company Pernod Ricard.   Bacardi, another company that saw its assets famously expropriated by the regime, purchased the American "Havana Club" trademark from its original owner in the late '90s. 

     So in America, "Havana Club" is made by Bacardi in Puerto Rico and can be found in five states. Everywhere else in the world, it's Cuban-made and distributed by Pernod Ricard.   Assuming that America's trade relationship with Cuba continues to improve, this could mean that the Cuban-made Havana Club could soon be available in the United States. But whose version will it be?
     "The central question now is who will get to bring Cuban-distilled Havana Club rum back to the U.S.A.: Bacardi or Pernod. The mellowing of U.S.-Cuba relations could well spike a D.C. rum war," said Charles Benoit, a lawyer specializing in alcohol legal issues.
      The only question is where will "Havana Club" sold here in the states be "Havana Club" or "Havanista"?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from Our Boat to Your Home

     This year we are spending our Christmas time off at Bahia Honda State Park..  Lately we have been spending a lot of time here, the "Camper" is finally the way we want it for our needs and we are spending a night or so each week on it.

Christmas Camping with Bahama Bob and Marta Leonard 2014

      We would like to pass on a heart felt Merry Christmas for all of you out there who follow us.  I hope that you and your family and friends can get together for a fun Christmas time like we are.  Whether your Christmas is white or shades of ocean blue, it is still a very special time for all.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas to One and All

     With the arrival of Christmas Eve this year we are met with many new opportunities to spend time with our families and friends.  This is a time that we get to share our love and feeling for those that surround us.  

     I have so many friends from so many places that my life has taken me,  I really appreciate the people that have touched my life over all of these years and had such effects on my life.   I am living a very blessed life, I've got to visit places and meet very interesting and brilliant people
through my lifetime, and I really appreciate all that they have brought to my life.

     To all of my family and friends it is wonderful to be able to share experiences and ideas from all of you.  This live I live is in many ways because the people that I surround me give me so many inspiration to try things I might not have even though about without them. 

    It is my hope that all of you have a very Merry Christmas this year and thank you all for all the presents of inspiration and ideas that you have brought to my life.  ;o)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A New Cocktail Trend Toward Tart Emerges

Master of Mixology Constante Ribalaigua
     For years now, I have worked hard to cut down the amount of sugar I put into my cocktails and still be able to have an enjoyable flavor.   Ernest Hemingway once told Constante Ribalaigua , famed barman and owner of the El Floridita in Havana to delete the sugar and double the rum in his daiquiri.  This provided a very tart and tasty daiquiri that still lives on today as the Papa Doble or Hemingway Special.  

     There is a trend in the making now for a much tarter line of cocktails in New York.  "That's how the wind has been blowing," said Kevin Denton, the creative bar director at the restaurant Alder in New York. "There has generally been a backlash against decades of overly sweet cocktails."   This is something that I have felt for years, especially in the line of the "high fructose corn syrup" chemical flavorings out there for use in the sickish sweet "sugar bombs" that have been popular for many years.
     The prohibition years were filled with very tart cocktails that featured "vulgarized" vegetables and fruits.   Today there is a huge switch to a variety of bitters being experimented with to give the cocktail an unusual flavor without the use of sugar.  "Bitters is one of the flavors that has been deeply explored. The second stage is the nuance of bitters as modifiers," said Alex Day, co-owner of the bar Death & Co in New York.
Enjoying a Papa Doble with "Papa"
     If the public takes to these tart cocktails the way that they have taken to the "Papa Doble", this could be a really fun year in the cocktail industry.  Tart cocktails go back as far as Ancient Egypt and China relating to their use of herbs to flavor alcohols.   I think that this will be a welcome trend, with the reduction of sugar in the cocktails, this should also help reduce the number and severity of the hangovers the next day.  ;o)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Diageo’s Bundaberg Rum Brand: Official Partner of the International Cricket Council 2015 Cricket World Cup.

    " Bundaberg will be the official rum served at next year’s Cricket World Cup.   As part of the partnership with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Bundaberg Rum products will be supplied at a number of Cricket World Cup venues.  ‘We are delighted to be partnering with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and supporting Australia’s biggest summer of cricket with Australia’s favorite rum,” said Adam Ballesty, marketing director for Diageo Australia.   'As friends get together to watch their teams at home, at pubs or in venues across the country compete for cricket’s crowning glory we hope they celebrate every special moment with Bundaberg Rum.'"

    This is Diageo’s second venture into the world of sports sponsorship in the recent past.  It has joined Formula One and now the ICC Cricket World Cup.   This is something new for Diageo and I hope that it is something that other spirits industry companies will follow suit with.
     Bundaberg is the best known rum from Australia and a perfect fit for the ICC Cricket World Cup.  Cricket and Bundaberg Rum, this is a great idea.  ;o)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Strutin' His Sunday Best

   This is an unusual sight on Duval Street, a Heron just out there strutin' his Sunday best with all the rest of the tourists.   It never ceases to amaze me what you can see as you sit in front of the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn and look out on to Duval Street.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Holiday Party "Hangover"

     The fun of a holiday party can end in serious problems if they are not carefully monitored.  You will usually find too much drinking and carousing  before the party is over, followed by too many people headed out in their cars when they shouldn't be driving.  This is a formula for disaster, and a formula that too often is self fulfilling. 

      I read an article in Law 360 that make some good points on how to reduce the chances for post party problems this year.

     Gathering workers together for holiday merriment is a beloved tradition for many employers, but holiday parties can open the door to discrimination and harassment claims, as well as other potential legal problems.  

     A festive setting can build team cohesiveness, but it can also magnify employees' natural human tendency to do silly or even offensive things, particularly if alcohol is involved. That can give potentially litigious workers a stand-alone justification for a legal claim or add ammunition to the arsenal of someone alleging a broader pattern of unlawful conduct.     

     "Bad behavior happens at work a lot, but parties and after-hours events tend to bring out out the worst in a lot of folks," Fisher & Phillips LLP partner Andria Ryan said.  

     Of course, companies can completely stave off potential holiday party-related legal liability by declining to hold any celebration at all. But for the droves of employers that don't want to be lumped in with the Grinch, here are some steps that can mitigate risks. 
You don't need this guy to happen

     Limit Alcohol Intake 

     At the top of the list of smart moves for employers holding holiday parties is limiting how much alcohol workers drink. Drinking is the main culprit when it comes to employee misbehavior at office parties, lawyers warn. 

     "Having an open bar and no rules regarding consumption can be a recipe for disaster," Ford & Harrison LLP partner Aaron Zandy said. "Unfortunately, alcohol can cause employees to act unprofessionally and to do things they wouldn't otherwise do." 

     There are a variety of steps employers can take to keep alcohol consumption down, the most obvious of which would be having a party that's entirely free of any alcoholic beverages. Most of Ryan's clients don't go that far, she said, but noted that some companies hold family events where the presence of spouses and children can stymie rowdy behavior. 

     If a dry party isn't in the cards, encouraging moderation in advance is a good idea, as is avoiding an open bar. Using drink tickets to allot each worker a reasonable amount of holiday cheer can work, though workers may hand those drink tickets off to one another. 

    Serving food also makes sense - it won't limit the amount of alcohol consumed but can curb intoxication. Keeping hard liquor off the menu can also be a sound decision. Even someone who's determined to get drunk on the employer's dime will have to work harder at achieving intoxication if less concentrated drinks are the only options.  

     "It's a lot harder to pound beer and get smashed," Kelley Drye & Warren LLP partner Mark Konkel said. 

     Konkel also noted that bringing in a professional bartender to serve workers can be a smart move, because a veteran barkeep will be trained to notice when a patron has had too much. Regardless of whether a pro is behind the bar or a worker volunteers for bartender duty, they should know it's OK to cut someone off. 

     "Whoever is serving should be instructed by the employer to be willing to pour shorter drinks or take other steps to mediate consumption of alcohol," Konkel said. "It's a work-related party, it's not a frat-house party." 


If you keep the points of this article in mind this year you will more likely to have all of your employees back for the start of 2015.   Have yourself a fun and joyful party, but keep things to a level where the "hangover" made the party not worth having.    ;o)


Friday, December 19, 2014

Last Bottles of 18th Century Rum Sell at Auction

     The last of the Harewood Estate rums were sold last week at the Christie Auction House in
London.  This is the last of the bottles found tucked away in the wine cellar of the Harewood Estate last year.  These rums were produced in Barbados on a plantation not too far from the Foursquare Distillery.

The final 16 bottles of the Harewood Rum Collection – the oldest rum ever to be sold at auction – have been bought for more than £135,000.

     The last bottles in the ancient collection of Harewood rum have been sold at auction.   The collection of light and dark expressions dating back to the 1780s was discovered in the cellar of Leeds stately home Harewood House last year.   Hidden beneath thick cobwebs, the bottles were uncovered by wine trade professionals Mark Lascelles and Andy Langshaw as they conducted an inventory of the cellar.   An initial collection of 12 bottles was sold for six times its estimate at Christie’s in December 2013, fetching £78,255.  Another auction took place in London last Thursday (11 December), when a 16-strong collection of Harewood rum sold for £135,713, bringing the combined total of Harewood rum sales to £213,972.  

      Chris Munro, head of Christie’s wine department, said that bottles of the Harewood dark rum achieved “world record prices”, selling for £11,162 each.   All bottlings were distilled in Barbados, shipped in barrels to the UK, and bottled at Harewood House.   They were sold as part of Christie’s Finest and Rarest Wines and Spirits auction, which also saw a rare bottle of The Macallan 1955 to 1986 smash its pre-sale estimate of £15,00-£20,000 to fetch £30,550.

     Proceeds from the auction will go towards the Geraldine Connor Foundation to help disenfranchised young people in the performing arts.

     This was an amazing discovery, and one that will most likely never come around again.  The bottles will long be treasured by those who were able to get one.  I know that Ian Burrell treasures the one he bought at the first auction.  ;o)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Diplomatic Relations are to be Resumed with Cuba.

     Yesterday, President Obama announce that there will be a resumption of normal diplomatic relations with the Island Nation of Cuba.  The resumption of diplomatic relations opens the way for Americans to enjoy unrestricted travel to Cuba and bring back the rums and cigars that have been banned from American shores for more than fifty years.   This is a big step for the people of Cuba and a first step for those of us that enjoy the fine Cuban Rums produced by the Island that lies just 90 miles to our south.

     It is my belief that the Cuban Rum Industry will be looking at the opportunities to export their spirits to the United States as soon as possible.  The US was one of the biggest importers of Cuban cigars, sugar and rum during the pre-embargo years.    This is an opportunity for many Americans to not only visit Cuba, but to experience a marvelous culture that only a few of us have enjoyed in the past 50 plus years.

   From the people at Bacardi, "We hope for meaningful improvements in the lives of the Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest," Bacardi said in an e-mailed statement. "In the meantime, we continue to support the restoration of fundamental human rights in Cuba."  Bacardi says it's taking a wait-and-see approach on Cuba after the United States on Wednesday said it would open an embassy on the island nation following the release of a U.S. government subcontractor from prison. It marked the most significant change in the U.S.-Cuba relationship in decades.
     This is an important first step and I look forward to the day I'll be able to step on a ferry here in Key west and an hour or two later be arriving in Havana for all the fun and culture that Cuba has to offer.  ;o)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday Afternoon Hangin'

    I finally got caught up on the maintenance work on the boats and I choose to just hang in the boat and do some writing.  I'm at the dock in Key West Harbour Yacht Club, taking some pictures and doing some writing.   This is the perfect atmosphere for stimulation and the creative juices are flowing and the words are just flowing.

     The Pelicans are back in town and they are here sleeping on the pilings, giving the marina a very calm and peaceful feeling.   The winds are down and the boats are coming and going as I just sit here listening the some great songs from the 60's and 70's.  

     The serenity of the of the day reminds me why I live here especially in the winter, yea there are some cooler and windy days, but for the most part the days are in the mid 70's and light breezes that keep you really comfortable,allowing all the fun activities wearing only shorts and t shirts.  

      Here's to another sweet Key West afternoon with mother nature at all of her beauty and calmness.   She has been a bit cranky over the past week, but today she is at her best behavior and giving us a super December day to be.   ;o)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Those Christmas Parties are Upon Us

     That time of year is back again and here is an idea for another fun Christmas Cocktail.   I'm kind of a Caribbean Cocktail nut, so here is an idea for a cocktail that combines Christmas with the Caribbean.   The idea of a creamy egg nog like cocktail with the fruitiness of the Caribbean.

Bahama Bob's Caribbean Christmas Cocktail
  • 1 1/2 oz. Rum Chata
  • 1 oz. Siesta Key Spiced Rum
  • 1 oz. Brinley's Shipwreck Mango Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Half and Half
  • 1/2 oz. Amaretto
  • 1/2 oz. White Crème de Cocoa
Place all ingredients into a blender with 1 cup of ice and blend until smooth and creamy like soft serve.   Pour into a 16 oz. glass swirled with choclate and garnished with grated fresh nutmeg, cinnamon and hard chocolate.  Top with whipped cream and a cherry.

     I hope that you enjoy the cocktail and the holiday season, but remember to drink responsibly this holiday season, I want to have all of you back for 2105.  ;o)