A great year for rum7th October, 2013 by Ross Kerslake
Every day is a day for rum and this year has been no different, in-fact it’s been topped off with a little bit more rum than usual.
At the beginning of this year we saw the launch of the Portside Parlour on Broadway Market in Hackney, a speakeasy bar featuring a hidden entrance through a loo, with a fantastic array of cocktails and even a couple of barrel aged options. In fact I loved it so much I included it in a top 10 pop-up bars article. Now there’s even more news: it’s staying. Can’t wait to see what they do with it next.
In April, Ian ‘Rum Ambassador’ Burrell completed the final chapter in his quest to make rum cocktails on every single continent. Yes that’s right folks, the man who loves rum and warm climates set sail and created his fabulous concoctions in the Antarctic. Now there were a few people here and there that thought this was a repeat of 2012’s April Fools, when he was allegedly going to release a rum flavoured vodka called Gannibal (if you know Ian he’s completely anti-vodka, unlike me). One bottle was produced and Ian still has it.
This summer has also seen the launch of Appleton Estate’s Rum Bus, a travelling pop-up bar, event bar and rum educational experience. It’s travelled all the way to Edinburgh Foodies and Lounge on the Farm, while using the hashtag #DiscoverRum to get people to spread the word. Masterclasses have been hosted onboard by the inimitable Appleton brand ambassador Jamie Mac, which have included a range of aged rum tastings and chocolate pairings from Charbonnel et Walker.
So we’ve had a wonderful spring and a pretty amazing summer, but alas here comes the rainy season, so drinking more rum and pretending you’re on a Caribbean island will help. Well there is one other thing that might help: The Rum Experience, brain child of Ian Burrell. The build up to Rum Fest was kicked off by this year’s Rum on the River, a four-hour boat trip on the Thames, where rum is always the topic of choice, with a fair amount of Pina Coladas and Rum Punch. Now while we didn’t get the glorious sunshine we all hoped for, we still had a good time. Though I was disappointed by the lack of a Daiquiri (my favourite).
But of course no year would be complete without the final twists to ‘The Rum Experience’. For those not in the know, this year saw the launch of the Rum University. That’s right, get an education in rum – Isn’t that every uni student’s dream? Guest speakers (lecture fellows?) include Ian himself, along with Jared Brown and Anastasia Miller, as well as Bacardi global brand ambassador David Cordoba and Richard Seal of Four Square distillery – a descendant of R. L. Seale. As Ian put it “there’s never been an official course to become a spirit ambassador, let alone to become a rum ambassador”. But don’t let this put you off, it’s not just for industry people – whether you’re a rum connoisseur or an alcohol tourist anyone can come and learn about rum.
Last but not least – London Cocktail Week is now upon us for another splendid year, culminating in Rum Fest. There are many highlights this year including a BBFB training talk on Bacardi rare rums and even Appleton Estate’s senior blender doing a tasting tour. Head over to www.londoncocktailweek.com for a full list of trade/consumer events and hit up Cutlass Comms PR for Appleton Tour details.
At the end of LCW, Rum Fest is one of few drink events that’s for everyone, just like Rum University. It’s a great chance to enjoy 400-something wonderful rums you may have had before; and to explore ones you never knew existed with the odd rare bottle appearing. Some highlights of this year include: Havana Club’s Mojito Embassy, showing people how to make the perfect Mojito, rum pairings with both cigars and marshmallows and even some good ole’ fashioned cooking demos (soaked and stewed in rum).
How on earth can 2014 top this?