Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Papa's Pilar and You can Help the Oceans

     Papa’s Pilar, the rum that bears the name of Ernest Hemingway’s famous fishing boat, has launched a new campaign to encourage ocean preservation. Timed with World Oceans Day and Hemingway’s birthday, during the campaign Papa's Pilar will donate $1 to the Ocean Foundation every time a fan posts a photo of themselves enjoying a glassed Papa's Pilar near the water.
     Papa's Pilar is trying to encourage you to get your rum, get to the water, and share a photo enjoying some Pilar for a great cause!


#PilarPreserves (Must tag for us to see it!)
Spreading the word, posting a picture or two, and encouraging your following to do the same. Every post means a $1 donation to the Ocean Foundation and we’d love to see more of our partners and friends show everyone how it’s done! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Singapore Sling Turns 100 Years Old.

Long Bar at Raffles Hotel in Singapore
Ngiam Tong Boon
     It is not a usual thing to write about a Gin cocktail, but the Singapore Sling is a very popular cocktail that has survived 100 years of cocktail sales.   This is a very flavorful cocktail much like those of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, plus in my mind a real "hall of fame" cocktail.
     The Singapore Sling was created by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915 at the Long Bar in the Raffles hotel in its namesake city. A hundred years later, it is Singapore’s national drink, widely available on menus everywhere you turn, and has gained international fame. It is still de rigueur for tourist visiting Singapore to go into the flagship Raffles and have one at the Long Bar.
The Classic Singapore Sling
  • 1 oz. Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Cherry Brandy
  • 1/4 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/4 oz. Dom Benedictine
  • 4 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1/3 oz. Real Grenadine
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice.  Garnish with cherry and a slice of pineapple.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Fun in the Keys

     The Florida Keys has a real beauty that comes to life in the summer time.  The beautiful blue water and skies against the white beaches provides me with a picture of fun and serenity.

    June is also when the sea turtles lay their eggs on the beaches of the Florida Keys.  These nests are very important to the health of the waters around the keys and the sea turtle species remaining as populous as they are today.   Pleas avoid these nest whenever you are on the beaches during June.  They are very important to all of us who live down here. 

     The beauty of the waters and the beaches can't be beat, so come on down and enjoy them with us, but when you leave, the only thing you should leave behind are foot prints.  Thank You.  ;o)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dillon Rum: an Agricole with a Twist

     Dillon is a storied name on the island of Martinique, a landmark French appellation in the heart of the French Caribbean.   But upon deeper examination, it is not quite what it appears. This French name, this French rum, has a bit of a different story.   That’s because behind one of Martinique’s eminent rhum brands is, in fact, an Englishman.

     An Englishman, who, no less, fought in the American War of Independence, a man who, while stationed in Martinique, eventually fell in love and married a local girl from a family of planters. He later served as Governor of Tobago, among other notable posts.   Dillon had a remarkable life, eventually becoming a Deputy in the French government until, charged with conspiracy (a fate all too frequent in the years after the French Revolution) he met his untimely end.   Today, this centuries-old rum brand still honors General Dillon, in more ways than one. 

     We recently obtained a bottle of one of the marque’s top-level rums: Dillon XO Hors d’age.  It has a pale orange-amber color, with a very smooth, sweet aroma of dried apricot and orange zest.   Then it gets interesting: the flavor profile is dominated by apricot, mixed in with a little pepper and orange zest; it’s even creamy, something exceedingly rare for a rhum agricole from Martinique.          It’s something different for this island; the finish is smooth, yes, but with the slightest whisper of white wine — giving the illusion of rum finished in Sauternes barrels.

     Because this rhum, though held to the same rigorous methodological requirements of the world’s only AOC designation for rhum, is not quite like others we’ve tasted from the island.   It’s creamy, sweet, even flowery. And if creamy gives the impression of milk, it shouldn’t; it simply has a velvety, oh-so-luxurious texture.  

Like its famous name, this rhum isn’t quite what one expects. And that’s precisely what makes it so wonderful.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Blackwell Jamaican Rum

     To some, Chris Blackwell is just a music mogul, but his family has been in the rum business for may years.  Chris has put his talents to work on a fine Jamaican rum these days and one that I am proud to say will be available at the Rum Bar here in Key West.

     Chris Blackwell is an international music icon, entrepreneur and cultural taste-maker. His reputation and lifestyle are the inspiration behind the brand and he is proud to offer the best of Jamaica.

     Chris hails from one of the oldest merchant families, the Lindo family. They first came to the island in 1625. His grandfather owned J. Wray & Nephew, renowned for distilling the best rum in Jamaica. Chris continues the family legacy with the introduction of Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum.

     Blackwell Rum has a dark bronze color with reddish highlights. the aroma brings notes of Demerara sugar and molasses.    The blend brings out notes of cocoa and chocolate, lasting long after the first sip.   This will be a welcome new addition to the Rum Bar collection of fine rums.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cuban Government Still trying to be Sell Havana Club as Havana Club in the United States

     The Government of Cuba has asked the United States to allow Havana Club to sell its product in the United States.   They are claiming  the import ban continues to breach World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.   During the meeting of the WTO’s disputes settlement body, Cuban's diplomat Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo,  a permanent representative at the United Nations office in Geneva, argued that the restriction went against a 2002 WTO ruling.  US still supports the rights of Bacardi to sell Havana Club-branded drinks in America. 
     "The long-running dispute is one issue requiring resolution for the recent US-Cuba rapprochement to deliver normal trading relations. But WTO speech indicates that the Havana Club dispute is far from over. "Cuba has made countless efforts…" demanding US concessions for the Pernod Ricard joint venture, said the diplomat, but the import block "remains intact and in force." Cuba could in theory apply for authorization to levy retaliatory duties on US imports, but given the paucity of US-Cuba trade that is unlikely".
   Havana Club's director general, acknowledged that Havanista could be regarded as an insurance policy if it fails to get back the original trademark in the US. “We want to be sure we will be number one company in the US selling 100% Cuban rum."    If you visit the Havana Club Museum in Havana, you can buy Havanista Rum today and take it home with you.
 Read More at http://www.just-drinks.com/news/cuban-government-makes-havana-club-plea-to-us_id117306.aspx

     This is an interesting dispute that goes back to 1959 when the Cuban Government nationalized both Havana Club and the Bacardi Factories.   Bacardi bought the rights to Havana Club from the Arechabala Family.   There has been a bitter battle between Bacardi and Pernod Ricard all the way to the US Supreme Court where the court decided in favor of Bacardi.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Changes at Bacardi as it Slips from #1 in Rum Sales

     After decades as the king of rum, Bacardi has fallen from the top selling rum in the world.    United Spirits' McDowell's no.1 Celebration, according to The Millionaires' Club 2015 has taken over the top spot in the rankings, with Tanduay coming in number three.   

     Bacardi's sales has dropped 5% in 2014 to 18.2 million 9-litre cases, third successive year of sales decline.  Meanwhile, Indian rum brand's slide was slower, at only a 4% drop, enabling it to slide into the top spot in the category for the first time by only 100,000 cases.   It was a reverse of 2013 when Bacardi retained the title over McDowell's by the same amount.   Tanduay has recovered its losses from typhoon Haiyan in 2013.  Tanduay has grown some 17million cases in 2014 moving into third place in the category.  The full report will be published in July in Drinks International.
    Bacardi is "plagued" by "fundamental issues" that are pushing it "off the business cliff", one of the company's former regional presidents has said in a blistering public attack.   Posting an open letter to chairman Facundo Bacardi on social media, Rob McPherson, the former president of Bacardi Canada, gave a scathing criticism of the world's largest family-owned spirits company, claiming that its recent managerial reorganization left him "compelled" to speak publicly.
     Bacardi announced that its chief marketing officer, Dima Ivanov, was quitting the company after just six months in the role.   Bacardi said that Ivanov's departure was directly related to its management restructuring, which is seeing marketing duties devolved to two regional managers, who will also have global responsibilities for some of the company's brands - such as Martini, Grey Goose and Bacardi rum - divided between them.
     Bacardi has not responded to Rob McPherson's open letter thus far.  More can be read at http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2015/06/directionless-bacardi-heading-for-a-cliff-writes-former-exec/
     There are a lot of things beginning to happen at Bacardi and it will be interesting to follow what they are doing and if they will be able to regain their long held spot at the top of the sales charts in the coming year.   ;o)


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sipping Rum, What a Concept

     The one advantage of going to Key West for a rum adventure is the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn.  With some 240 rums on the shelves, you are very likely to find one that you can sip and enjoy. 

     The majority of the rums are of a sipping quality, and can be enjoyed neat or with a cube of ice or two.  You can literally travel the world with fine rums.   Just think you can go to most any island in the Caribbean, off to Asia if you desire.   Madagascar and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, to Mexico, Central and South America, you can find rums from these parts of the world.  Fine rums are made in so many countries around the world offering opportunities for your taste and pleasure.

     The thing that I like about the rums is that they all have a different flavor.  I can bring
my palate to life in different ways according to my mood and desires.  I'm often asked what is my favorite rum, and my answer is "the one I have in my hand".  This may sound trite, but my personal collection and the rums at the Rum Bar give me so many opportunities for fine rum.  It is the truth, and I find new favorites quite often as I am brought new rums to taste and review.

    The summer offers may opportunities to sip rum on your patio or the aft deck of the boat, so find the ones that suit you and enjoy your summer leisure time.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The First Capsule Cocktail Maker Coming Soon

    When the coffeemaker industry introduced the capsule coffeemaker, we thought we were in heaven.   We had no idea where this technology was heading.  The Bartesian Corporation has introduced the worlds first capsule cocktail maker.

     The user simply needs to insert the capsule into the machine, add the base spirit whether its vodka, rum, gin or Tequila, select the strength and the Bartesian will mix the drink at the click of a button.   Six different cocktails will be launched initially, including three classic drinks – the Margarita, Sex on the Beach and the Cosmopolitan.   Three signature serves will also be available comprising the Bartesian Breeze made from rum, strawberry, pineapple, lime juice and coconut water,    Uptown Rocks mixed with gin, white grape, peach, lemon juice and cilantro sprig, and Zest Martini, a blend of vodka, grapefruit juice and cucumber bitters.
     What a concept, all you do is drop in the capsule and out comes favorite cocktail.  This would be ideal for the camper, just put the machine on the counter in the galley and push a button and I've got my cocktail ready for consumption.
     “Our team of cocktail experts have painstakingly developed each drink to taste truly authentic, exactly how your local mixologist would make them,” the company’s Kickstarter page read. “Each Bartesian capsule is made with real, premium ingredients, fresh juice concentrates, non-alcoholic liqueurs and bitters all in liquid form.
     Bartesian is looking for backers and offering rewards to those that are willing to back the project.  Bartesian also plans to reward those who back the project depending on the size of their donation.   You can find more information at their website.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rum History and Grenada

     The old Westerhall Distillery on Grenada is another if the very interesting places that I have visited in the pas few years.  The life of rum and Caribbean treasures has been very rewarding to me.  This picture really helps when it comes to seeing where the cum has evolved from and guides me to how to show its very interesting and colorful past.  ;o)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Monkey Rums are Here in The Rum States

     Zane Lamprey has often been inundated with the question of “what is your favorite spirit?”   Having never been able to truly answer the question, Zane decided instead of picking from the numerous libations he has consumed over the years that he would set out to create his own drink and put the question to rest.  Thus the idea for Monkey Rum was born.    Zane has spent two years doting extensive research, that yielded the recipes for these rums.  Eventually, he was  decided on two rums that became  his favorites, Zane Lamprey’s Monkey Coconut Rum and Monkey Spiced Rum.   Lamprey is not just some paid talking head for the rum, either. He tells Miami New Times,"I founded this company. I developed the rum. I'm not just slapping my name on it."

     Zane Lamprey’s Monkey Rum is available in a limited number of US States.   Lamprey, who has hosted a numerous  television shows that explore drinking cultures in different countries, including Drinking Made Easy and Chug, unveiled his rum expressions last year.   Following the initial seed launch on Kickstarter, his Monkey Rum with Toasted Coconut and Monkey Spiced Rum are now available in New Jersey, California and Florida.
     “I set out to create a Rum that captured the spirit of my adventures—a more evolved rum compared to what was available on the market,” said Lamprey.    “After years of refinement and testing, this product is something I am incredibly proud of.”
     The name of the brand refers to Lamprey’s drinking “companion”, Pleepleus the monkey who appeared in each of his shows.   References to Pleepleus can be found in “at least a dozen” locations on the bottle.    Zane Lamprey has spent countless hours making sure his rum has all the best ingredients. However, the most important of these is not something you can easily find or identify. That ingredient is Personality. Through his travels, Zane has come to realize that no matter how many times you distill, or how much effort you put into the process, if a drink doesn’t come with some personality, the purpose is lost. Monkey Rum is about sophistication, adventure, and fun.   “Let Monkey Rum inspire your sense of adventure.” -Zane Lamprey

Friday, June 19, 2015

Norman Island and the Willie T

The famous Willie T Rum
     Nestled in a cove next to Norman Island, the William Thornton lies at anchor ready for some of the craziest antics and fun people anywhere in the Caribbean.  The "Willie T" as she is affectionately know is truly a party barge that rally knows how to party.

William Thornton
    William Thornton was born on May 20, 1759, on Jost Van Dyke, in the British Virgin Islands and died on March 28, 1828, Washington D.C. He was educated in Scotland as a physician, but rarely practiced his profession. As an architect, Thornton was self-taught. He also was a painter, and an inventor. William Thornton’s plantation on Tortola was located in the Pleasant Valley area near Nanny Cay.
Other than our floating restaurant, William Thornton’s greatest claim to fame is the design for the United States Capitol Building!   His design was submitted after the competition of 1792 had closed, and was approved by President Washington, who praised it for its “grandeur, simplicity and convenience.” A prize of $500 and a city lot was awarded to Thornton on April 5, 1793; he is thus recognized as the first “Architect of the Capitol”.

The "Willie T" in the Bight at Norman Island
    The current vessel is the second vessel to carry the "Willie T" name.  The William Thornton, began life a number of years ago as a Baltic trading vessel.   Mick and Annie Gardner launched the restaurant in 1989, moored in the same location in the Bight at Norman Island.   The original wooden William Thornton .   After it sprung a leak and sunk, the original  wooden Baltic trader was replaced with the William Thornton we all know today, a steel 100 ft. shunner with substantially more room both in the galley and restaurant, but also the bar area.   The “new” William Thornton also features a very large aft bridge deck. This is where you will find all sorts of shenanigans going on.

     Today it has been refurbished a bit replacing many of the rusting rails and deck supports with sturdy wooden posts, and a  new paint job, but the party is still going strong on the Willie T with people jumping off of the upper deck naked and body shots on the bar.    The craziness goes on both day and night virtually every day.  This is one of the "don't miss" stops on your Virgin Island Vacation and one for those who carry the crazy Caribbean party genes.  ;o)


Thursday, June 18, 2015

La Bodeguita de Medio, Just Down the Alley to the Fun

     In 1942, the small Bodega La Complaciente, in the old Havana district was bought by Angel Martinez.    He immediately renamed the bodega Casa Martinez.    Angel Martinez sold typical Cuban products and, from time to time, served dinner to the regulars. But mainly, the clientele visiting Casa Martinez, were there to have a drink and conversation with their friends.  One of the main attractions was a brand new cocktail, the Mojito was made with rum, mint, sugar, lemon and club soda.   In 1949, Silvia Torres “la china” was hired to prepared the food at the Casa Martinez.    The Casa Martinez soon became Havana’s fun and a culinary center.    The crowds were drawn by the bohemian charm of the place.  You could find writers, choreographers, musicians and  journalists meeting there in a subdued atmosphere of the little bodega.    Encouraged by a need for restaurants in Old Town Havana by the end of the 50s, the place started growing in popularity to outsiders as well.

    On April 26, 1950, the name Bodeguita del Medio was officially adopted.   Among the first clients was Felito Ayon, a charismatic editor, who rubbed shoulders with the avant-garde of Havana, and put Casa Martinez on the map amongst his acquaintances. It is the way Felito Ayon used to indicate the location of the Bodeguita to his friends, that made popular the expression Bodeguita del Medio, that was to become its official name in 1950.

     Numerous artists and celebrities were regulars of the Bodeguita : the poet Pablo Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gabriela Mistral, Agustín Lara, Nat King Cole, Marlene Dietrich, Nicolás Guillén and Ernest Hemingway. “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita” can still be read on the wall today, in Hemingway's handwriting.  Here of late, there has surfaced some evidence that the plaque’s authenticity.  It has been said that a publicist forged the signature.  It is still a great story and the framed grocery bag that it is written on is still displayed above the bar.

    In September 1997 a bomb went off in the Bodeguita as part of a bombing campaign against several tourist spots in Havana injuring dozens and killing Fabio di Celmo, an Italian tourist.   No-one was killed in the Bodeguita del Medio, but dozens were severely injured.   It was said that just moments before the blast, the barman had posed for a picture with a tourist who later turned out to be a Salvadorian mercenary, Ernesto Cruz Leon, who was arrested and convicted for planting the bomb.
   The little "bodega in the middle", is one really fun place to visit, but be ware that the place is virtually always crowded and may take a while to get to the bar for one of their mojito's.  While you are waiting there, you cam pull out your Sharpie and sin your name on the wall of the place and join the hundreds of others that have already done so.   ;o)  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Havana's Sloppy Joes is One of my Favorite Bars as Well

     It was Prohibition in the United States that convinced Jose Garcia Abeal, the original owner of Sloppy Joe’s to switch from food service to liquor service.   American tourists were coming to Havana for the nightlife, gambling and all the alcohol they could get their in a legal manner.

     Sloppy Joe's was welcoming tourists for over four decades, serving 80 cocktails plus the bar's own brand of 12-year-old rum.    During the 1940s and 1950s Sloppy Joe's was a magnet for American celebrities as well as tourists wanting to mingle with them.   It has been described as "one of the most famous bars in the world" with "almost the status of a shrine." by the Los Angeles Times.    The Cuban Revolution of 1959 saw the bar's business take a nosedive, with 90% of Sloppy Joe's clientele being Americans, who had been banned from Cuba.

     A fire in the 60’s closed the establishment for good.   The building in which the bar was housed remained intact, resembling a ghost town with its single-piece mahogany bar and photos of celebrities.    The slow-paced, extensive restoration, undertaken by The Office of the Historian of Havana, began in 2007.    Located on the corner of Calle Animas and Zulueta in Old Havana, just  behind the Plaza Hotel.

     The bar, was the part of the set for the movie Our Man in Havana starring Alec Guinness,  Sloppy Joe’s is the bar in which the character (Jim Wormold) was approached enter into the secret service.

    Renovation work on Sloppy Joe's was completed in April of 2013, and its doors opened to the public on April 12th.    The facade closely resembles the images from the 1950s, down to the sign on the corner, above the arches. 

  The really great news is that they are still serving the fine cocktails that made Sloppy Joe’s famous in the first place.  I spent several afternoons and evenings there enjoying the people that work there and their wonderful cocktails.  ;o)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

El Floridita One of the Fun Bars in Old Havana

     When I'm in Havana, there are two really fun bars that I like visiting.  The El Floridita and  Sloppy Joe's.   Both of these bars are steeped with history and famous clientele.   The music, food and cocktails at both of these bars will bring you back again and again.   This is the first of two articles about them.  Today's is about the El Floridita.

     The venerable El Floridita first opened its doors in 1817 as “La Piña de Plata”, silver Pineapple to us Americans.  In 1914, Constantino Ribalaigua Vert was hired as a barman, Constante, as he was known by the patrons became bought the  El Floridita in 1918.    Constante is credited with inventing the frozen daiquiri in the early 1930s.    Constante made use of a snow cone type ice shaver and a mixer that you would see in an ice cream shoppe to make milkshakes to create these wonderful frozen masterpieces.   Today, El Floridita still boasts the motto, “la cuna del daiquiri” or Cradle of the Daiquiri.

     Famous customers share a history with El Floridita.  Ernest Hemingway was a common fixture at the bar.  It is a short walk from the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Hemingway maintained a room from 1932–1939.   Hemingway’s children also noted that in the early 1940s Hemingway and his wife, Martha Gellhorn, frequently drove from their house outside Havana, Finca la Vigía to El Floridita for cocktails.  Hemingway’s history at the bar is preserved by a life-size bronze statue sculpted by the Cuban artist José Villa Soberón that sits in “Papa’s” favorite seat.

     The establishment was frequented by many generations of Cuban and foreign intellectuals and artists. Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos and Graham Greene, the British novelist who wrote Our Man in Havana, were also frequent customers.  Movie stars like Spencer Tracy, Errol Flynn and Marlena Dietrich were regular patrons of the famed watering hole as well.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Beach Bar Fun Time is Upon Us

     When I think about beach bars all around the Caribbean, It seems that the
Soggy Dollar always come to mind.  It is one of the coolest beach bars ever, beautiful soft white sand, no dock, so you swim up to the beach from your boat to get the party going.

     The Soggy Dollar is the birthplace of the Painkiller, and if you can score a hammock, you can just make the rest of the world go away.  Mic, the bartender is the best when it comes to personality and his knack for cocktail preparation.  His Painkillers are to die for and his antics keep you smiling for the entire visit.

     Sitting on White Bay on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands this bar draws people from all over the world to worship the sun, enjoy the beautiful blue water and wander in the sands of the beautiful beach.   If you are in the virgin Islands, be sure to make arrangements to get to Jost Van Dyke and the Soggy Dollar, I assure can you, it is a place and an experience that you will never for get it.  ;)