Sunday, May 31, 2015

Getting the Urge to Travel Again

     July Vacation is taking us south again with the opportunity to visit several island including Grand Cayman where the morning sun is such a beautiful way to start the day.  As much as I love Key West it is nice to "get off the rock" and visit other islands in the Caribbean.  Grand Cayman is one of my many favorites...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

California Rum Festival. to be Hosted at "Mixo Capital" in San Francisco, California

     The inaugural California Rum Festival in San Francisco is happening on September 12th at the Terra Galley.  This has promised to be an interesting event for those on the west coast and the rest of the US to visit.  You can et tickets on line at .   Don't be left behind, get yours now and enjoy the Rum Festival.

     The Rum Lab introduces the inaugural California Rum Festival on September 12th, 2015 at the Terra Gallery. California is one of the key states in the spirit industry alongside Florida, New York, Illinois and Texas-especially when it comes to rums. As an international event produced in the tourist mecca destination, known for its sophisticated mixologist scene, the inaugural is arguably set to become a leading world-top class event in the West Coast. 

     The rum festival is divided in two sessions. The 1st session, which is scheduled from 2:30-4:30pm will be primarily Spirit Industry Session-focused on industry professionals like:
bartenders, bar managers, distributors, brand ambassadors, F&B managers, etc. The 2nd session, will be for the general public and rum aficionados. Attendees will be able to enjoy some of the world's best national & international rums such as Plantation Rums, Blue Chair Bay Rum, Ron Barcelo, Miami Rum Club, Koloa Rum to name a few. In addition, guests will be able to attend seminars with renown guest speakers, like the "Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell and Master Flair-Mixologist Dean Serneel-already lined up for one of the sessions. 

     The Rum Lab and Reál Ingredients are in conversation to possibly host a Rum Mixo Competition, which may attract bartenders from the West Coast, as well as Hawaii. 

     Terra Gallery is located .6 miles from the BART station in San Francisco's South of Market (SOME) district in Rincon Hill-this one day event celebrates the cultural, ritual and historical legacy of the world's best national & international rums.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Big and Small US Distillers Hail New Tax Bill

      Members of the US spirits industry have hailed the introduction of a new bill that would significantly cut tax for both large and small distillers. 

     Discus and the ACSA successfully lobbied for the introduction of a new bill that would significantly cut spirits tax in the US.   House representatives Todd Young and John Yarmuth have put forward a new bipartisan bill, titled Distillery Innovation and Excise Tax Reform Act of 2015.   If approved, the legislation will see the current tax rate of US$13.50 per proof gallon to US$2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 gallons for all distillers, regardless of size. After the 100,000-gallon threshold has been passed, the bill sets a rate at US$9.00 per proof gallon.
     The legislation has been supported by both the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) and the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), both of which also claim the bill should apply to imported and domestic spirits.   “It is significant that the distillers of all sizes are united behind this important hospitality industry legislation,” said Distilled Spirits CEO Peter Cressy, who will retire from the role later this year.   “We thank the sponsors for recognizing the economic impact passage of this bill will have for our industry.”
     This bill will have a wide reaching  effect on not only the spirit industry, but the Service and tourism industries as well this can have a real trickle down effect that will benefit all who are a part of the spirits industry.  


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Chase Bears When You are Drunk!!!!!!

     My research for this blog brings me in contact with a lot of very funny articles.  Today I ran across a really funny one.    This one falls under the category if you are going to be stupid, you better be tough.    
By the Way, This is a bear, they are big and strong.  LOL
     The intoxicated man was arrested last week after he was found chasing a black bear into the woods in Massachusetts, brandishing an axe.     Following the incident, the North Adams, Massachusetts Police Department posted a Facebook message warning others not to go all “Davy Crockett” and imitate the man’s actions, urging residents “to NOT chase bears through the woods with a dull hatchet when drunk.”
     “Yes, that really did happen,” police posted. “We understand there are bears in the area. If you see a bear, LEAVE IT ALONE and call us. We certainly don’t need anyone going all Davy Crockett chasing it through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet. It is just a bad idea and not going to end well. It will however, certainly end you up in jail…which it did.” 
Oh well another day another seriously funny story.   ;o)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Appleton is Upgrading the Factory

 Hon. Derrick Kellier, is hailing Appleton Estate
     Appleton is undergoing some modernization of its sugar factory in St. Elizabeth.    They are being encouraged by the government to continue their efforts at the farm and factory levels.  The improvements are both working for better efficiency and a greener footprint on the land.

     “Clearly, they have modernized the factory over the last couple of years, brought in new equipment and seems to have made the plant a more efficient and production-oriented operation. That will bode well for them because if you want to be able to compete on a national and international scale, you have to have high levels of productivity in your operation,” he noted.   Minister Kellier said the practices being employed in the cane fields will encourage high levels of productivity and the company will soon be reaping the benefits of its innovations and investments.   “In their field operations, we have clearly seen where their agronomic practices are in keeping with high levels of productivity and clearly, the gains that they have made and practices that they have employed are paying dividends to them,” he noted.
     Minister Kellier said he is particularly pleased about the waste-to-energy project, which has enabled Appleton to generate its own energy and is having a positive impact on the environment.   “This is something that ought to be commended, because that, in itself, will help them to reduce cost to make them more competitive,” he said.   Minister Kellier is encouraging the management of other sugar factories in Jamaica to follow the lead of Appleton.
     There seems to be a lot going on at the Appleton Estate these days with the improvements at the factories and the updating of their bottles and labels on the Appleton Estate Rums.    This is a sign that the brand is doing well and looks to be getting stronger in the category.   ;o)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Are we "Drunk" When We Fall in Love?

From the Video "Drunk in Love"
     An article in the Spirits Industry, tells us that science says that we are.   I seems that the effects of the “love hormone” oxytocin have very similar effects on the body as those of alcohol.  This is a very interesting article, maybe  Beyonce was right with her video, "Drunk in Love"  ( ).

     The research found distinct similarities between the effects of alcohol and oxytocin on our actions.   Oxytocin is a brain chemical which plays a key role in social interactions and reactions to “romantic partners”, increasing behaviors such as altruism, generosity, empathy, and trust.   The research, conducted by the University of Birmingham and published in the journal Neuroscience and Bio-behavioral Reviews, used data from existing studies on the two compounds, and found distinct similarities between the effects of both.
     Dr. Ian Mitchell, from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, explained: “We thought it was an area worth exploring, so we pooled existing research into the effects of both oxytocin and alcohol and were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds.”   “They appear to target different receptors within the brain, but cause common actions on GABA transmission in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic structures. These neural circuits control how we perceive stress or anxiety, especially in social situations such as interviews, or perhaps even plucking up the courage to ask somebody on a date. Taking compounds such as oxytocin and alcohol can make these situations seem less daunting.”
     The research revealed that although the two compounds target different receptors in the brain, they cause a common action on the parts of the brain that control how stress and anxiety is dealt with.     The result is lowered inhibitions, especially in situations seen as “stressful”– such as going on a first date.

     Dr. Steven Gillespie said: “The idea of ‘Dutch courage’ – having a drink to overcome nerves – is used to battle those immediate obstacles of fear and anxiety. Oxytocin appears to mirror these effects in the lab.”   However, like alcohol, oxytocin can also make people become more aggressive, envious or boastful, while reducing the sense of “fear”.
     The concept has been around for many years of being drunk in love,  I guess that it is true.    I find it interesting that it has taken this long for someone to research the subject and bring it out to the public.   ;o) 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

     Memorial Day is the one holiday that we take some time to remember all of those that gave their lives so that we can enjoy our freedoms.  It is a long three day weekend to  spend time with family and friends.  It is also a day for those who have lost some one close to them during a conflict to honor their memory.

     I hope that your get to spend this day enjoying yourself as most of us do, but take a little bit of time to remember why we have a three day weekend this year and say thank you to the people who safeguard these freedoms and protect our shores every day.   ;o)

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Drifting Back to Granada

     In 2013, I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful island of Granada.   I really get a warm feeling when I think back on the pleasure that that island brought me.   See for yourself if you get the opportunity.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

How Alcohol Makes you Friendlier and Nastier, Depending on Who You Make Contact With

    Social Drinking is one of the things that people believe makes them friendlier, but not toward everyone.   I find that if I drink Tequila, it really doesn't make me friendlier toward anyone, but even rum can't make me feel warm and fuzzy toward some people.  There is a story that I ran across this morning that seems to shed some light on this subject.

     Drinking alcohol is associated with aggressive behavior, accidents and ill health. Yet many of us choose to drink socially. This may reflect alcohol's actions on specific brain circuits which make us feel euphoric and less anxious. Alcohol may also make us more empathic and cause us to see other people as more attractive. But why do these reactions occur and are the positive effects of alcohol expressed towards everybody we interact with? 

     Alcohol is a drug, one of the three most commonly used in the world, along with nicotine and caffeine. When we drink, the alcohol binds to a specific type of receptor in the brain and boosts the activity of a natural brain chemical called GABA. The effect the alcohol has on us depends in large part on the dose, and the location of these GABA receptors within the brain. 

     Early on in a drinking session, the alcohol acts on GABA systems to boost the levels of dopamine, the brain's reward chemical. This gives a sense of well-being and a sense of mild euphoria. Alcohol also acts on GABA receptors to impair the activity of the brain circuits that make us feel anxious and, at higher doses, alcohol inactivates a second set of brain circuits that control fear. So threatening stimuli no longer seem quite so scary. Alcohol also compromises our ability to compute risk so that situations we would normally shy away from may now seem quite inviting. 

     All of this points to alcohol as a facilitator of social interactions. As well as making us more empathic, laboratory studies have also shown that drinking alcohol can make us trust others more and make us temporarily more generous.
   I agree with the fact that alcohol is a facilitator, because I know it takes a couple of drinks before many people will get up and sing karaoke, or ask someone to dance.  It gives the user a euphoric feelings to some people and pick fights with others, and the reasoning of this study is very interesting.  ;o)   

Friday, May 22, 2015

Change the Name of a Pub Because it Upsets the "Sensitivity" of Chickens

     I think that the naming of a team, bar or building being changed because it was degrading to some group just reached an all-time low.   It seems the PETA has demanded that the "Fighting Cock Pun in the UK to change its name because it is demeaning to chickens.   You know, the birds that eat their young and poop only to be slaughtered to feed the world's masses.  I think you will get a kick out of this.
Ye Old Fighting Cocks Pub in St Albans, UK
     Peta (People for the ethical treatment of animals) launched a campaign against the pub in St Albans urging its owners to rename it Ye Olde Clever Cocks, which they believe would recognise society’s “growing compassion for animals” and celebrate “intelligent, sensitive chickens”.
     In an open letter sent to the chief executive of Mitchells and Butlers, which owns the pub, and its landlord Christo Tofalli, Peta requested that the pub end its association with the sport of cockfighting, which was banned in the UK in the 1800s. The pub was founded in the eighth century and has been called the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks since 1872 because of its history of cockfighting.
     Peta said the name change would “encourage people to rethink the way that we treat chickens and grant these birds the respect and kindness that they deserve”.
     Making its case, Peta compared the pub’s associations to cockfighting with slavery adding: “We understand that the pub has long been called Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and that there may be some resistance to making a name change, but just as many pubs with names tied to slavery changed their names to match modern sensibilities, so it’s high time for The Cocks to change.”
     Today Tofalli told the St Albans Review that it would not be changing its name


     When are these groups going to pull their heads out of the proverbial ground and realize that the world doesn't rotate around the feeling of chickens?  This is utterly ridiculous.   ;o)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Crossing Cuba for the First Time in 2000

Marta and Our Plane Ready to Head Out for Cuba and Grand Cayman

     This week there was a Hobie Cat Sailboat race from South Beach in Key West to Havana.  This is
the first of its kind in 50 years.   It makes me think about all of my mental images of Cuba  over the years and my amazement when I first set eyes on Cuba in 2000.  

Our Approach to Cuba on the GPS
   We flew out of Key West enroute to Georgetown, Grand Cayman directly over Cuba.  We first met Cuba at a town called  the Matanzas just northeast of Havana.   We proceeded south across Cuba to Parque Nacional Cienaga de Zapata.   From there it was direct to Georgetown, Grand Cayman.
     The northern portion is mostly farms and undeveloped lands, but when you reach the southern side of the island,  you will see the largest of Cuba's National Parks.  Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata, the largest of Cuba's six national parks and biosphere reserves.   Bird-watching platforms on the way out to Las Salinas offer a chance to see 18 of Cuba's 22 endemic species, including the red, white, and blue tocororo—Cuba's national birdiaddition to the  siju platanero (Cuban pygmy owl).    All of the reports that I have read about this park say that it in one of the best natural parks anywhere.

Central Cuban Farm Lands

    Our 2000 flight and first views of Cuba still leave me with a lot of warm memories of this extremely interesting island with all of its wonderful people and exciting culture that I find to be really fun to share.

Leaving the National Park on the South Coast of Cuba headed for Grand Cayman

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Lord Clive Shipwreck may Yield Large Cache of Rum


Harewood Rums
     Plans to raise a the Lord Clive, a warship sunk on January 6, 1763 could possibly yield a large cache of rum according to Rubin Collado, Argentine treasure hunter who first discovered the ship in 2013.   This cache of rum could bring a huge bounty based on the prices gotten for the Harewood Rums sold a few years ago. 
     The wreck of the Lord Clive – which was destroyed by Spanish cannon fire during a botched attack on the city of Colonia del Sacramento.    The Lord Clive received unexpected strong resistance from the city gun battery. After three hours of fire exchange, a fire declared on the Lord Clive, it quickly spread and the ship blew up and sunk immediately . There were 272 fatalities on board, including the expedition's commander Captain Robert McNamara.
     Long buried under rocks at the bottom of the River Plate, the contents of the ship are unknown, but tales of treasure chests and vast stocks of rum have prompted a frenzy of interest, according to the veteran Argentinian explorer who found the ship and is now raising funds for the recovery.
     “Many people want to stake money, since they enjoy this kind of thing. It’s like gambling, you put in $1,000 and you could make $5,000 or $1m, depending on what shows up,” Rubén Collado told the Guardian.
     I will be interested in following the outcome of the exploration and the recovery to see what exactly that this ship really yields and if any of the rum has remained drinkable after being submerged for some 252 years.   If it is still good it will help the cause for submerged aging of rum again.   ;o)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How About a Rum Sour This Evening?

     Nothing fancy, but that's what the appeal is  for a Rum Sour.    Sometimes you don't feel like challenging your palate, or even thinking about it very much, all you just want a nice, easy drink.
You have just gotten off of work and it is time for a Rum Sour, a very simple cocktail that just eases the tensions of the day away.

The Rum Sour

  • 2 1/2 oz. Flor de Cana 7 Year Old Rum
  • Juice of a Half Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of Agave Nectar
Place all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until really chilled.  Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with an orange twist and a cherry.

Now you can move out on the patio of aft deck and let the evening roll away into the sunset.  ;o)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Alaska Air Looks to Fly the Commercial Airliners Fueled with Renewable Alcohol Based Jet Fuel.

     Alaska Air has plans to fly a demonstration flight using renewable biofuel made from corn and other plant materials.

     Alaska Air plans to launch a demonstration flight using the clean-burning ‘alcohol to jet’ fuel – made by Gevo, a renewable biofuel company, which is made from by converting corn and other plant waste into isobutanol.   Isobutanol is then processed into jet fuel, which can be a clean replacement for petroleum-based fuels.
     The test flight will happen providing Alaska Air receives approval from the American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM International, sometime near the end of the year.   Gevo has been doing research based on the guidelines set out by ASTM International for more than six years, they looking for a final approval in order that the fuel be available for standard use on any commercial aircraft.
     Alaska Air has been proactively searching for alternative fuels in order to achieve its target to use sustainable biofuel in at least one of the airports by 2020.   The company was the first airline in the US to have flown multiple commercial passenger flights using biofuel created from used cooking oil.

     This is interesting news, maybe more research with sugar cane might yield more places for the use of alcohol to fuel the aviation fleets.  Any renewable fuel is a positive move to power our world instead of a quickly disappearing petroleum fuels.  ;o)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dreaming of Havana Club and Cuba Times

    There has been a lot of talk about Cuba being opened up so Americans can come and go like we can to the Bahamas, but to date it is mostly just political noise.   I am so looking forward to the time when I can jump into my boat and cruise thee 90 miles across to Hemingway Marina and tie up for a few days and sip the Havana Club 7 or 15 year rum and then cruise back home with only the usual customs procedures.  

     This is the church that the Havana Club logo was drawn from in Havana.   ;o)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rich Women and Uneducated Men Seem to Drink More Alcoholic Beverages

     Well-educated, wealthy women and poor, uneducated men are more likely to engage in hazardous drinking habits according to a new report from Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development, an international firm that studies global trends, looked into the patterns and social differences of alcohol consumption.   The new study suggests that wealthy women and uneducated men are more apt to engage in unhealthy drinking habits.
     Hazardous habits such as binge drinking were found to be most common in rich women in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland and the US.  The study concluded that across both men and women those who are “better educated” and of “higher socioeconomic status” drink more alcohol than anyone else.   However, the gap between men and women’s drinking behaviors appears to narrowing with both genders displaying similar drinking habits.
     “No single variable predicts the likelihood that a person will adopt a given pattern of consuming alcohol,” the study stated. “People with more education and higher socioeconomic status are more likely to drink alcohol, but social gradients differ in men and women for hazardous and heavy episodic drinking.   “Men who are less educated and have higher socioeconomic status, and women who are more educated and have higher socioeconomic status, are more likely to drink at risk in many countries.”
     I find this study to be an interesting one, especially from the view I have from behind the bar here in Key West.  My view is one of a pretty fair cross section of international, American, and locals.   I fee that the study has a lot of merit , but like all other studies it is a cross section of the people that actually are doing the drinking.   As for me I put myself into the educated male group of moderate drinkers, except when at a rum festival judging rums where I would have to classify myself as a short term binge drinker.   I'll just stick with my moderate status and go on living in my own happy little world down here in the Keys. 




Friday, May 15, 2015

American’s Tastes in Rums are Getting More Sophisticated-and More Expensive

     As a bartender and purchaser of rums for the Rum Bar in Key West, one thing that I am noticing is the consumption of more premium expressions by my clientele.   The premiumization movement by the rum producers is being appreciated by the consumers.   It seems that here in America, people are drinking less, but what they are drinking is of a much higher quality.
     According to research by Guestmetrics, a firm that tracks drinks sales at 6,000 bars and restaurants, US adults are going out less frequently and drinking less alcohol instead opting for more expensive cocktails, beer and wine.   “When consumers do go out, they’re trading up to more expensive drinks,” Peter Reidhead of the research firm GuestMetrics, told Bloomberg.    Furthermore, consumers are also more inclined to spend more money for specialty of high-quality liquor options, paying 5% to 7% more compared to two-years-ago, according to Nielsen.

    Danelle, Kosmal, vice president of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice said the increase in costs is not a reflection of stores putting their prices up, but “it’s more a reflection of consumers trading up”.   More bars are hiring mixologists to create US$20 cocktails, and with the boom of “craft” distilleries, consumers are seeking more locally made spirits.   While GuestMetric explained “luxury” spirit drinks – those costing more than US$12 – are still rare, comprising just 3% of the volume of spirits sold at bars and restaurants, this is now 15% more than in 2013.


     I feel that this movement is a positive one at least from my point of view, it means that my customers are drinking at a slower pace and savoring the flavor and feel of these premium and ultra premium rums and enjoying them and sharing their experience with those around them.   Today many of my customers are buying one or two premium rums or premium cocktails and leisurely enjoying them rather than tossing back some cheap mixture that really lacks taste and loaded with sugar.   I'm really glad to see this trend and I hope that it continues.   ;o)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tuesday at Bahia Honda Relaxing on the Boat

     Sitting in the cockpit of  "Lil Sanity" with a nice rum cocktail, I'm reminded of what Ernest Hemingway said about writing drunk and editing sober.   My mind is really out there today as I sip another wonderful rum cocktail ad enjoy the warmth of the sun.   I'm taken to the wonderful world of the tropics and a good rum cocktail and all of the fun that I am allowed to have down here.

     I just completed a really fun four days of working at the Rum bar with so many of my mainland friends visiting.  I wonder why I'm so lucky to have so many friends that continue to visit me year after year and some times even more  often.   This week it was Dave, Carlos, Amy, Brett, Joy, Niki, Mary, Kimberly, Chrissy, Iris, Streeter and Carlton that kept me company and enjoying a whole bunch of fun rum cocktails.

    Today it is my day for cutting loose and  just having a fun day on and around the water.   The flowers, surf, birds and serenity of Bahia Honda make today so wonderful.   I love the work here in the keys, but after a week of taking care of all of my friends it is a wonderful thing to just sit in my deck chair and down a few rum and ginger beer cocktails and let the rest of the world just drift away.

     Sorry for the rambling, but this is one of those really fun days after a great work week that makes me just want to let loose and really enjoy the tropical life and have some fun my own way.  For those of you that have to be in a place that is not quite as neat as where I am today, I'm very sorry, but for me this is just a really wonderful thing that I can't help telling you about.   Here is to my world and all of the fun that I hope I get to share with you someday soon.  ;o)