Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Black Tot Day is Tomorrow

     July 31, 1970 was a sad day for members of the British Royal Navy as the Admiralty Board discontinued the centuries-old tradition of providing a daily “tot” of rum to enlistees.  Affectionately known as “Black Tot Day in the UK and other Commonwealth countries, the ritual dates back to 1655 when shipboard life was incredibly difficult and the daily issue of Rum was the highlight of the day.  Wednesday we are celebration the 49th anniversary of Black Tot Day.  It is a day to enjoy your favorite “Tot of Rum”.
     Today Pusser’s Rum is enjoyed worldwide and Black Tot Day is a celebration of those days gone by.  My personal favorite for Black Tot Day is Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof Rum, presented in the original Admiralty Strength.   This is one of my personal Pusser’s favorites anytime, but especially appropriate for Black Tot Day.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Brown Heron in Flight

     This day has been very interesting and consuming of my time.  Sorry I'm so late getting today's blog out, but it could not be helped. 

     I just love to kayak drift through out waters taking pictures of birds as they get close to me.  This is one that I particularly like.  I hope you enjoy it as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Campari Group is Trying to Buy Trois Rivières and La Mauny Rums

     Italy’s Campari Group has entered into “exclusive negotiations” with the Chevrillon Group to buy French firm Rhumantilles SAS, owner of Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny agricole rum brands.  
     Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny have a “strong presence in France and potential for international growth”, while Duquesne rum is said to be a brand designed for the local market. The rum brands obtained the Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) ‘Rhum Agricole de la Martinique’ certification.  ‘Rhum Agricole’ is the only segment in the rum category to benefit from a label of origin, which was gained in 1996. It is said to provide a “significant barrier to entry for potential competitors”.
     If the deal is finalized, the rum brands will join Jamaican brand Appleton Estate in Campari Group’s rum portfolio.  The Italian firm said rum was a premium category “at the heart of the mixology trend and growing cocktail culture” and that Campari Group “will have an opportunity to add prestigious rhum agricole brands” to its portfolio.   “Moreover, France is poised to become one of the group’s strategic markets and with this acquisition Campari Group has the opportunity to add significant critical mass in this market.”
     Campari hopes for a “positive conclusion” to the talks and will provide key financial terms of the deal if secured.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tainted Alcohol Kill Nineteen in Costa Rica

Classic Moonshine Still

     Nineteen people have died from consuming alcohol tainted with toxic levels of methanol in Costa Rica, where the Ministry of Health issued a national alert.  Fourteen men and five women ranging from 32 to 72 years old have died in several cities across the country since the beginning of June, the ministry said.
     The government has confiscated about 30,000 bottles of alcohol suspected to be tainted, affecting several brands.  The Ministry of Health advised against consuming alcohol from a number of brands because samples had tested positive for methanol adulteration.
     Adulterated liquor often contains methanol, which can make people feel inebriated. Adding methanol to distilled spirits enables sellers to increase the amount of liquid and its potential potency, according to SafeProof, a group that lobbies against counterfeit alcohol.

     Methanol is a byproduct of the production of ethanol.  The head is the first part of the distilled liquid to be produced and mainly contains unpleasant substances that would give the liquor an unpleasant sour taste, as well as methyl alcohol, which is toxic, and therefore needs to be eliminated. Fortunately, these substances have a lower evaporation point than the "noble" substances of the liquor, and therefore are the first to come off of the still. The skill of the distiller consists of the ability to establish when the heads of the distillate ends and when the so-called hearts begin.  Proper distillation methods will, make sure that these foreschots and heads are discarded.  These make up about 25% of the output of or a distillation run.  Using these in the final mix is either done by someone who is unscrupulous or has no knowledge of the process.   This is not as uncommon as one might want to believe.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hemingway Rum Company Launches its First Limited Edition Expression, The Lost Casks

         During this past week Hemingway Rum Company has launched its first Key West Limited Edition Rum.  Lost Cask is one of those collector items, not only is it a wonderful rum, but being a first of its kind makes it a real rum collector's treasure.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tomorrow is National Daiquiri Day

    Need to cool off from the blistering heat we have had here in the past few weeks? Why not celebrate National Daiquiri Day, July 17, 2019  with meA great daiquiri is a cocktail you will not forget.

Jennings Cox
     In 1898, after the victory of Roosevelt at the Battle of San Juan, the Americans began to exploit the iron mines and this engineer led one of the first explorations. Cox and his team worked in the Sierra Maestra hills to the outside of Santiago de Cuba where the small town of Daiquiri is located and was the one who invented the famous drink during their stay there.   The engineers received substantial salaries and generous rations of tobacco as an incentive after leaving their jobs in the United States to go to Cuba and face the threat of yellow fever that was there at that time. Jennings also asked that his workers receive a monthly ration of local rum, Bacardi Carta Blanca, that local workers used to mix with coffee every night after the workday. This is how he began to experiment until he created what we now know as Daiquiri.

     The gossips tell that the history of this drink can be attributed to another engineer, Pagliuchi , who was a mine observer and who met more than once with Cox. During their meetings, they talked about creating a drink with the ingredients that Cox had at hand: rum, lime and sugar. Cox's granddaughter tells a slightly different story; she said that his grandfather was running out of gin when he had to entertain the Americans. When that happened, I changed it for rum that never served directly but mixed it with lime and sugar to mask its flavor. Whichever way Cox managed to create the drink, the result was sublime.

     In Havana, a bar just off of the square in Old Town Havana was El Floridita.  This is a bar that was owned by Constantiono Ribalaigua Vert.  He has been credited with the invention of the “frozen Daiquiri”  To this day it is the best please in the world to go have one of these very refreshing cocktails.  A pleasure that I have enjoyed many times.

     He did his best writing in the morning, standing in front of his typewriter, plucking the keys as fast as the words might come to him. This was fortunate, because by 11 a.m., the Havana heat began to creep into his rented room at the Hotel Ambros Mundos.   He couldn't think in the swelter, much less write.   If the trade winds were good, Hemingway might make his way to Havana Harbor, where his boat, Pilar, was docked in the 1930s. But on other days, he would take the ornate caged elevator down from Room 511 to the lobby and make his way out to the sun-speckled street. It was just a 10-minute stroll through Old Havana from Hotel Ambos Mundos to El Floridita, his favorite bar.  Between the heat and the morning spent cooped in his small room, Hemingway was always parched by the time he arrived at El Floridita.

     According to Hilary Hemingway, Ernest’s niece, Ernest Hemingway's niece, explains: "In the early 1930s, Hemingway went into the Floridita to use the restroom one day. People in the bar were bragging about the daiquiris that were being served there. So he ordered one and took a sip. Ernest asked for another one, this time with 'no sugar and more rum.' And that's how the Papa Doble, or the Hemingway Daiquiri, was born."  Ribalaigua coined the drink after Hemingway and the rest is literary-meets-libation history. The Papa was for Hemingway, known for his graying beard and fatherly self-assurance. The doble — well, that meant two. Two times more liquor to pack the most punch.  Hemingway proudly boasted to have downed 17 of Constante's daiquiris over the course of one afternoon in 1942.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Havana Club CEO Says Rum Needs a Clear Set of Rules

     The CEO of Pernod Ricard-owned Havana Club has called for “basic quality rules” in rum to create a “more harmonious” industry.  Christian Barré believes rums of different origins should adhere to specific rules and regulations    Christian Barré, who was appointed Havana Club CEO in 2017, expressed his support for new European Union regulations that limit the amount of sugar that can be added to rum.  In addition to “special legislation”, such as those of the  European Union, each rum-making region should “make sure it has a clear set of rules”, he said.

     “It would help the category in the future if there were some clearer rules and regulations, like in whisky and Cognac. We need to innovate but in well-defined framework to guarantee consumers that when you innovate with super-aged rums you still deliver quality.”  Increasing discussions around transparency in rum are leading to the creation of a “more harmonious” sector, which is in its “early stages”, the Barré added.

     “In the rum market, we should push to make sure transparency for consumers is key. At the end of the day, consumers are not fools; they can understand the difference between a good quality product and one that is commercial. We need basic quality rules.”  Barré confirmed that “flavors are of interest” to Havana Club when it comes to innovation, and that “it’s going to be an interesting year” for new releases from the brand.   Earlier this year, the rum released its 2019 Tributo bottling a blend that includes rum aged in Cognac casks, while October saw the launch of Havana Club Professional Edition series.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Havana's El Floridita

 With all of the new rules that have stopped the visits to Cuba, it is fun to think back on my memories of the many wonderful places that I have visited in the historically beautiful island of Cuba.  The El Floridita with the statue of Ernest Hemingway in the background, is just one of these places that I have gotten to visit over the years.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Top 10 Selling Rum Brands

     Rum has had its ups and downs in the past year.  Some of the top ten selling rums have declined and some have grown very impressively.  Rum is going through a strong premiumization, bringing new sales to the category, but the cocktail it is making new ground as well.
1.       Tanduay:  It has retained its position on top of the pile with a 3.1% growth, passing the 20,000,000 case sales mark.
2.      Bacardi:  Has had a 2% growth with a 17,100,000 case sales
3.      Captain Morgan: 11,700,000 case sales up 0.2%
4.      McDowell’s No.1 Rum: 11,700,000 cases with a drop of 8.7%
5.      Havana Club: 4, 600,000 cases  with a 3.8% gain
6.      Barceló: 2,200,000 cases with a 0% net again
7.      Božkov:  1,700,000 cases an impressive 49.3% growth
8.      Ron Medellin:  1,600,000 cases and a 1.1% loss for the year
9.      Contessa Rum:  1,600,000 cases sold and a 11.5% loss for the year
10.  Appleton Estate:  1,100,000 cases sold and a loss of 9.8% loss for the year

     All in all, worldwide, rum has done fairly well n the past year.  The top rums have had a growth and a new entry to the top ten.   The premiumization of the category has dropped the total sales a bit, but the perceived value is helping rum’s image, which will be felt as the years move ahead.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tomorrow is National Pina Colada Day

     Monchito Marrero is no longer with us, but he is still a celebrity in his own right and his legacy lives on in the form of his flavorful handiwork. Internationally, it is estimated that more than 200 million Piña Coladas have been served since 1954 when Monchito officially mixed the first one in what was then the Caribe Hilton's Beachcombers Bar.

     You can enjoy the same drink Monchito created and personally served to Caribe Hilton guests, including such luminaries such as Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, and John Wayne. The original Piña Colada recipe is:
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 1 ounce coconut cream
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 6 ounces fresh pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • Pineapple wedge & maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour rum, coconut cream, cream, and pineapple juice in blender. Add ice. Blend for 15 seconds. Pour into a 12-ounce glass. Add garnishes.

      Recently, we shared what we believed to be the original pina colada recipe, a 1963 concoction hailing from the famous Barrachina watering hole in Old San Juan.  But in the weeks that followed that post, a new contender arose proclaiming that they, in fact, were behind the creation of the world's most popular tropical drink. 

     It really doesn't matter today who actually first created it some 64 years later, but just how good it really is and tomorrow is the day we celebrate this wonderful cocktail.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Coastal Grenada

     About 6 years ago, I ha the opportunity to explore the island of Grenada.  This is one of the most beautiful islands that I have ever had the opportunity of visiting.  It has so much beauty from the mountains and forests to her seashores, this little waterfront is just one example of how beautiful it really is.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Enjoy Your July 4th Celebrations Today

    Today is a day that we Americans celebrate the 243rd anniversary of the birth our wonderful country.  Today is possibly the most important holiday for the people of United States.   A federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the Thirteen American Colonies regarding themselves as a new and independent  nation.

They knew full well that the might of the British armed forces brought full force to our shores attacking what would appear to be defenseless colonies.   Until the thirteen colonies decided to unite against the British Crown,  They still were lacking numbers, arms and training to stand against the British, much less defeat them militarily.  Yet they put their signatures, and their lives, their families, their destiny, on the document declaring their independence.   They decided against all odds, and even against good reason, to tell the world that “the United Colonies are, by right should be free from the reign of the British Crown.

     Today we look back at what they accomplished and then head out for a picnic, bar-b-que and then an evening of spectacular fireworks.  No matter how you celebrate your Fourth of July Holiday, do it safely and responsibly, we want to have you back with us next year.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Calls for Cancer Warnings on Alcohol Labels

     A number of health organizations in the US have penned a joint letter to the government department that regulates alcohol urging new labelling laws to necessitate cancer warnings.   Cancer warnings should be included on the labels of all alcoholic drinks brands, a coalition of health groups has said

     The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is seeking to amend the regulations governing the labelling and advertising of wine, spirits and malt beverages to “simplify and clarify” regulatory standards.   As part of the consultation period prior to the laws being amended, stakeholders and organizations can submit their comments to the TTB.

     The latest letter states: “The available scientific information shows that consuming ‘even one drink per day’ of alcohol increases cancer risk. A ‘modernized’ label for alcoholic beverages should therefore carry a warning that reflects this scientific understanding.”   The Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (ABLA) of 1988 requires that a specific health warning should appear on the labels of all alcoholic drinks containers produced, imported or bottled for sale in the US.   In addition to the warnings about drinking while pregnant or while driving, the groups recommend the following statement is included on labels: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: According to the Surgeon General, consumption of alcoholic beverages can cause cancer, including breast and colon cancers.”