Tag Archives: rum

Evening of Decadence at the Speakeasy Cocktail Festival


Pinstripes and pearls. Feathers and fedoras. Blackjack and burlesque. The 1920s came roaring back Saturday at the second Speakeasy Cocktail Festival.

The event was a celebration of the style and sips of the Prohibition era. Revelers enjoyed 1920s inspired cocktails, and tastes of rum, vodka, tequila, cognac and beyond.

Opera in Midtown provided the perfect location to see and be seen – or not. Guests could take in performances from three floors, or sneak off to side rooms for drinks or cigars.

For those who were feeling lucky, the casino offered poker, blackjack, roulette and craps.

With sensual performances and all the classic and creative cocktails you could imagine, the Speakeasy Cocktail festival was a true evening of decadence.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Health Education & Communication Center of Atlanta. Click here to read about the organizations supported.

Snapshots from the 2013 Buckhead Wine Festival

Guests sipped a variety of wines, beer and spirits at the second annual Buckhead Wine Festival, held Saturday at the Andrews Entertainment District.

Georgia was well represented — in addition to sampling wine from the state, guests could taste and buy locally made cheese, macarons, cupcakes, jellies, pickled vegetables and more.

The Buckhead Wine Festival offered a chance for many to get their first taste of Richland Rum, a rum distilled just two hours south of Atlanta, in Richland, Georgia.

Click below for snapshots from the 2013 Buckhead Wine Festival.

Summer Cocktails from RA Sushi

Beat the heat with a trio of summer sips from RA Sushi.

For a limited time, the Midtown Atlanta restaurant will serve three cocktails that are reminiscent of warm weather treats and beach vacations. The Orange Dreamsicle, Coconut Mojito and Key Lime Martini will be available from from July 1st through August 15th and will cost $8 each.

Enjoy the cocktails next month with your favorite sushi roll or make them at home now with these recipes provided by RA Sushi:

Orange Dreamsicle

1½ oz. Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
2 oz. orange juice
1 oz. lemon-lime soda
1 oz. soda
¼ oz. cream of coconut
Squeeze 1 lemon slice
Orange slice and whipped cream for garnish

Preparation: Combine with ice and shake all ingredients except for soda. Pour into iced glass and top with soda, garnish with an orange slice and whipped cream.

Coconut Mojito

1 oz. Ciroc Coconut Vodka
½ oz. coconut rum
1 oz. pineapple juice
¼ oz. cream of coconut
Splash of soda
Squeeze of half a lime
6 mint leaves
Sprig of mint and lime wedge for garnish

Preparation: Muddle mint leaves. Combine with ice and shake all ingredients, except for soda. Pour into iced glass and top with splash of soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedge.

Key Lime Martini

1 oz. Ciroc Coconut Vodka
1 oz. Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
½ oz. pineapple juice
¼ oz. cream of coconut
Squeeze of half a lime
Crushed graham cracker, whipped cream, and lime slice for garnish

Preparation: Combine all ingredients with ice, shake and strain into chilled martini glass rimmed with crushed graham cracker. Top with whipped cream and a slice of lime.

RA Sushi, 1080 Peachtree Street Northeast, Atlanta 30309. (404) 267-0114

Holiday Rum Cocktails

Spice up your seasonal celebrations with some holiday-inspired rum cocktails!

These recipes come from mixologists with Mount Gay Rum.  The distillery has been producing rum on Barbados since 1703, making it the oldest rum brand in the world.

Each cocktail calls for Mount Gay Eclipse, a medium-bodied rum that has notes of ripe banana and apricot, vanilla and a subtle smokiness from aging in Kentucky oak barrels.

Try these cocktails with Mount Gay Eclipse or your preferred aged rum.  They’re sure to put everyone in the spirit of the season!

Mount Gay Pumpkin Pie Frappe

2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
3 oz half-and-half
1 cup vanilla ice cream (slightly softened)
4 tsp pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
2 tsp Sugar in the Raw
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground allspice

Combine all of the above ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve in nicely chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Mount Gay Rum Spice Night

1½ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
1½ oz scented apple juice (see below)
½ oz fresh carrot juice
¼ oz fresh lemon juice
¼ oz maple syrup
1 tsp fresh ginger juice*

Place all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass. Garnish with whole allspice pods-they will float atop the cocktail.

*Make the scented apple juice the day before, by combining 3 to 4 whole allspice pods with one cracked cinnamon stick per 2 cups of apple juice. Refrigerate overnight.

Mount Gay Rum Punch

by Chester Browne

19 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
18 oz water
12 oz grenadine syrup
13 oz sugar syrup
4 oz lime juice
1 oz Angostura Bitters
1 tsp nutmeg

In a punch bowl, mix all ingredients together. Allow to rest for two hours, serve over ice and garnish with a cherry.

Mount Gay Hot Buttered Rum

1½ Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
1 lb light brown sugar
½ lb unsalted butter (softened)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl beat together softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight reusable container for up to a month, or place in your freezer until ready to use. In a pre-heated coffee mug combine 2 heaping tablespoons batter with 1½ oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum. Top with boiling water and stir well to mix. Serve with a spoon.

Highlights from the Grand Tasting

If you’re looking for more wines, beers, spirits and small bites than you could ever hope to taste in one afternoon you’ll find it at the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Grand Tasting.

Grand TastingThis year’s event featured an impressive selection of familiar labels and brands as well as new or less well-known ones.  I had a great time revisiting some of my favorite wines from the South Beach Wine & Food Festival like Grgich Hills (their delicious whites and reds are always well balanced and complex), and discovering new treats like the fruity and floral Ume Blanc from Choya.

Here are more highlights from the Grand Tasting:

Chalk Hill 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and 2006 Chardonnay
Chalk Hill winesThe Russian River Valley winery showcased these two along with their great tasting Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but I was really drawn to their white wines.  The Sauvignon Blanc ($28) has ripe flavors of honeydew, lime, white nectarine and pineapple, with a refreshing and crisp finish.  The wine is 100% barrel fermented and aged on lees which adds depth and richness.  The Chardonnay ($40) is elegant in taste and structure.  It is barrel fermented with native yeasts and bottled without filtration.  Aromas of honeysuckle, ginger and white peach introduce creamy and complex flavors of pear, jasmine and a slight flintiness.  Rich and full-bodied with a satisfying finish, it’s a really pleasant wine to drink.

Pascual Toso MalbecPascual Toso 2007 Malbec
At $10 a bottle, this ripe red from the Maipu Valley in Argentina’s Mendoza region is a great deal.  It’s deep ruby red in color with aromas of rich red and black fruit.  Flavors of blackberries, black cherries, mocha, violet and white pepper culminate in a long and well-rounded finish that has just a hint of caramel.  Velvety soft in texture, this bold wine is a great match for grilled steaks and roasts.

Red wines from Cosentino Winery
I had tried Cosentino wines at a previous tasting and enjoyed all of them immensely.  Their simply named wines let the complex flavors speak for themselves.  THE ZIN 2006 ($30) is 97% Zinfandel (over 70% old vine) and 3% Petite Sirah, with grapes coming from Lodi, the Russian River Valley and Sonoma County.  It’s exotically spicy and rich, with intense flavors of blackberry and black pepper.  The CIGARZIN 2006 ($26) is a lush old vine Cosentino winesZinfandel blended from Lodi and Sonoma grapes.  Like THE ZIN, it’s aged for more than a year primarily in American oak.  This red is rich and well structured with a core of ultra-ripe blackberry and boysenberry with notes of cherry, clove and pepper.  The finish displays dense layers of boysenberry jam, cocoa powder and coffee.

FRANC 2006 ($22) is a spicy and smooth Cabernet Franc.  Flavors of ripe plum, black currant and clove are followed by sweet tobacco, cedar and a shot off tannin on the smooth finish.

The Poet 2005 is a delicious splurge at $75.  It’s a Meritage from the Napa Valley with 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec.  The Poet is rich and well balanced, with tart cherry and currant flavors up front and notes of spice, minerals and pomegranate that evolve into a long, spicy finish.

Red wines from South Africa
Spice Route PinotageSouth Africa is producing a lot of fun red wines right now.  By fun I mean bright, upbeat and fruit forward wines that are easy to drink and go well at barbecues and other social eating events.  One of the first red wines I tried at the Grand Tasting was the 2007 Spice Route Pinotage ($20).  It’s one of the tastiest Pinotages I’ve tried, with extremely muted leather and gamey notes that can turn many non-South Africans off to this varietal.  Full bodied with flavors of plum, blackberry and boysenberry jam, the wine has a hint of cedar and vanilla from 14 months in American oak barrels.  The fruit is balanced out with firm Wolftrap red blendtannins.

The fun extends to the blends — and I had a lot of fun tasting the 2008 Wolftrap ($11).  It’s 68% Syrah, 30% Mourvèdre and 2% Viognier (this white wine grape is added to smooth out the tannins and bold flavors of the Syrah and Mourvèdre).  Silky in texture, this wine is full of black fruits and berries with a hint of violet and spice on the finish.  Both reds are big in alcohol, with about 14.5%.

Golden Sun Pumpkin Pie cocktail from Tommy Bahama
As a fan of pretty much anything that contains pumpkin, I couldn’t resist trying this cocktail made with Tommy Bahama rum.  It’s a tasty fall treat, sure to spice up any gathering.  Here’s the recipe so you can make it at home:

Tommy Bahama rum cocktails1 ½ parts Tommy Bahama Golden Sun Rum
1 part pumpkin spice syrup
splash of cream
graham cracker crumbs
cinnamon stick

Shake Golden Sun Rum, pumpkin spice syrup and cream over ice and strain into a glass rimmed with graham cracker crumbs.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick.  For more seasonal cocktails like the Apple Pie Martini and the Peppermint Martini visit tommybahamarum.com.

And while we’re on the topic of pumpkin-flavored drinks, Blue Moon was offering a taste of its seasonal brew, Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale.  Made with the flavor of vine-ripened pumpkin it’s full bodied and smooth, with a hint of clove, nutmeg and allspice.  It wasn’t overly sweet like other pumpkin brews I’ve tasted; overall I found it refreshing and enjoyable to drink.

Choya Ume Blanc
Ume BlancThis wine is made from Japanese ume fruit (pronounced “wu-meh”), which is similar to apricots and grows on trees.  Gently sweet with an elegant touch of acidity, the Ume Blanc reminded me of a Riesling but with more white floral notes.  It’s a great aperitif or can be enjoyed with fresh fruit or desserts.  Like a sweet riesling it’s low in alcohol, containing 7%.  A 500ml bottle costs about $15.  If you can’t find it at your local liquor store, try an Asian market.

For more articles from the New York City Wine & Food Festival click below:
Bubbles and Bivalves at the Oyster Bash
Tour de Beef at DeBragga and Spitler
Organic Wines for Less than $20

MIA vs NYC at Rum Mixology Contest

A rum showdown will be shaking things up in Miami!

Top U.S. rum mixologists will face off next Thursday at the first-ever Ron Abuelo and Rum Jumbie Mixology Contest at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne.  The contest will take place at the resort’s RUMBAR, known for its impressive rum selection that includes more than 50 rums from 18 countries.

New York winner Paolo Votano of Bocca di Bacco will challenge mixologists from Miami’s top bars and lounges including RUMBAR, Plunge of Gansevoort South Beach, the Living Room Bar of W South Beach, 8 oz. Burger Bar, The Setai and The Florida Room at The Delano.

Each contestant has 15 minutes to create two cocktails incorporating Ron Abuelo Añejo premium Panamanian rum and Rum Jumbie Splash, a flavored rum from St. Maarten.  They will be judged by a panel of spirit and cocktail experts.  The winner will earn the title of Top Rum Mixologist and win a trip to Panama to visit the Varela Hermanos distillery.

The vintage Havana atmosphere will be complete with Cuban-inspired light fare and live music from Grupo Nostalgia, a four-piece Latin band clad in white dinner jackets and bowties.

The Ron Abuelo and Rum Jumbie Mixology Contest will be held on Thursday, October 15th from 6 to 8pm.  Entrance is free, with a cash bar.

The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne is located at 455 Grand Bay Drive.

A Rum For Your Lifestyle

After three days of sipping rum with experts, mixologists, collectors and people who enjoy a good cocktail at the Rum Renaissance Festival, it’s clear that rum is more than just a drink — it’s a lifestyle.

What exactly makes a rum right for your lifestyle?  That of course depends on your taste.  As UK Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell said during the festival, the best rum is what’s in your glass.  Or in your next glass.

Whether you prefer rum with soda or on the rocks, there’s a rum for you.

Rum is made from fresh sugar cane juice, sugar cane syrup or molasses.  Beyond the raw materials, the taste and quality of rum is affected by the methods of fermentation and distillation, the aging process and in some cases, the blending used to create the final product.

White, silver, clear or crystal rums are aged for a brief time and are often filtered to remove color.  With these rums the taste of alcohol dominates the flavor, making them more suitable for mixing in cocktails.  If you’re looking for this type of rum try Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 from Nicaragua or 10 Cane from Trinidad.

Gold or pale rums are aged in barrels for several years, which adds color and flavor.  These rums are used in cocktails in which a stronger flavor is desired, or they can be sipped on their own.  Try Botran 12 from Guatemala or Brugal Añejo from the Dominican Republic.

Dark or black rums go through a longer aging process and are more flavorful than gold rums.  Like gold rums they are often used in cocktails and can also be enjoyed on their own.  Try Gosling’s Black Seal from Bermuda or Cruzan Black Strap from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Premium aged rums are what I find the most interesting to drink.  With these rums the unique flavors of the liquor and the skill of the master blender really shine.  Premium aged rums are meant to be sipped, like a cognac or scotch.  Serve them neat or on the rocks.

When looking for an aged rum, keep in mind the number on the label may be misleading.  The number could be the age of the youngest rum in the blend or the oldest, or it could be the average age of the blend.

If you’re new to drinking aged rums, a great place to start is with Atlantico Private Cask from the Dominican Republic.  A blend of 15 to 25 year old artisanal aged rums are aged again in private casks which give the rum added complexity and flavor.  I found this rum very easy to drink.  It has mellow flavors of tropical fruit and caramel without the fiery finish that other rums have.  Atlantico Private Cask tastes great with fresh lime juice or in cocktails.  At around $35 a bottle it’s more affordable than cognac, but not so expensive that you won’t want to use it in mixed drinks.

Another great tasting aged rum is Zacapa Solera 23 from Guatemala.  Zacapa makes their rum with juice from the first pressing of sugar cane.  After distillation, the rum is aged at facilities that are 7,500 feet above sea level.  The cool mountain air reduces the evaporation that occurs during the aging process.  The rum gets additional flavors from being stored in casks that previously held bourbon, sherry or Pedro Ximenez.

Zacapa Solera 23 is a blend of rum aged from 6 to 23 years.  It’s sweet and smooth, with flavors of vanilla and spice.  My husband who is a cognac fan was converted into a rum enthusiast after a few sips.  A bottle costs around $35.  One step up is the elegant and refined Zacapa Centenario XO, a blend of rums that are at least 25 years old.  A bottle costs around $100.

For a slightly more full-bodied rum try Zaya Gran Reserva from Trinidad.  The rum is distilled five times and hand blended with three to five rums, then aged in oak barrels for at least 12 years.  Well-balanced with flavors of dried fruits, the rum has a long and smooth finish with a hint of spice.  A bottle of Zaya Gran Reserva costs around $30.

Sure rum tastes great in mojitos and tropical drinks.  But try an aged rum on its own and you’ll be impressed with its unique and complex flavors.

For more information on rum check out Robert Burr’s Gifted Rums Guide.

Rum Renaissance Kickoff Party

If your only real experience with rum is drinking daiquiris or mojitos, you’ve barely scratched the surface of this spirit.

From light to dark, flavored to spiced, the flavors of rum can vary greatly.  At this weekend’s Rum Renaissance in Miami you’ll have the opportunity to try them all.

Atlantico rum partyLast night the rum celebration kicked off with the Atlantico Rum VIP Party at 8oz Burger Bar.  Atlantico is an aged rum from the Dominican Republic, made by blending small batch aged rums.  The blend is then put through two more aging processes before it is bottled by hand.  Click here for more on Atlantico and my recommendations for aged rums.

8oz’s mouth-watering mini burgers and short rib grilled cheese sandwiches were served with three different rum cocktails.  I usually go for beer when I’m eating burgers, but found the cocktails to be a very tasty alternative.

Atlantico rum partyMy favorite cocktail of the evening had Atlantico Private Cask aged rum with blackberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup, allspice and a sprig of rosemary.  The bartenders put on a great show, using lighters as they sprinkled the allspice to release more of its flavor.

The rum cocktail was refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness.  It’s what I’d want to drink while sitting by the pool.

The main event of the Rum Renaissance is the Grand Tasting on Saturday at the Shore Club.  You’ll be able to attend seminars and sample rums (as well as Cachaça) from many countries and territories in the Americas and Caribbean.  Tickets are available at the door for $50 (cash only).

For more information visit rumrenaissance.com.