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London Cocktail Week 2014 – Nola Vs Nola: Tiki Takes Over! Sep 26

London Cocktail Week Logo

An intercontinental contest for bragging rights, New Orleans’ best bartenders are taking on the team from London’s very own NOLA. The winner gets bragging rights for the next year… the loser has to do penance at next year’s Tales of the Cocktail.

We took seven of New Orleans’ best bartenders and had them each make an original kick-ass cocktail. Then we gave the bartenders from NOLA the exact same ingredients, but without any information about how the drink was proportioned or made.

Each night, NOLA will make both cocktails and it’s up to you to decide the winner. £8 gets you both cocktails and a vote for your favorite.

Tonight, Tiki Legend Jeff “Beachbum” Berry sends over a Bittermens cocktail recipe featuring El Dorado Rum.

One of Imbibe magazine’s “25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century” and one of The Daily Meal’s “60 Coolest People in Food & Drink,” Jeff “Beachbum” Berry is the author of six books on vintage Tiki drinks and cuisine, which Los Angeles magazine dubbed “the keys to the tropical kingdom.” Esquire calls him “one of the instigators of the cocktail revolution” and Food & Wine “one of the world’s leading rum experts,” while Las Vegas magazine cites him as “one of the world’s leading mixologists.”

Jeff’s original cocktail recipes have been printed in publications around the world, from Bon Appetit and Fine Cooking magazines to such books as World’s Best Cocktails and the Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide; his drinks have been served at PDT and PKNY in Manhattan, Le Tiki Lounge in Paris, Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, Kona Lei and Costello Club in Madrid, The Tiki Room in Stockholm, Paparazzi in Bratislava, Three Dots And A Dash in Chicago, Boutiq’ Bar in Budapest, Nu Bar in Bologna and Hula Bula in Perth, Australia, among others.

The Rum Club – Mezan Rum (Sneak Peak) Apr 01

Notting Hill Rum ClubAnother month and another great rum brand is heading to the London Rum Club at Trailer Happiness. This time it’s the turn of Eaux de Vie and Mezan Rum. To quote their own fact sheet, “Mezan vintage rums are unblended rums from individual islands or countries in the West Indies and South or Central America, produced from a single vintage year’s distillation, aged in oak Barrique and bottled one cask at a time, when mature, under the supervision of our cellar master.”Mezan Rum

With a current selection of 7 rums, some of which are from distilleries that are no long in production, this unique range of bottlings are considered to be a true expression of the distillery and country in which they originate. Mezan achieves this with their promise that all of their vintage rums are; unblended, unsweetened, uncoloured and filtered through only a light gauze with no chill-filtration.

The range currently consists of:

  • Vintage Barrique Aged Jamaica Rum – Pot-distilled at the Hampden Distillery before being aged for 10 years.
  • Vintage Barrique Aged Grenada Rum – Column-distilled at the Westerhall Distillery before being aged for 12 years.
  • Vintage Barrique Aged Trinidad Rum – Column-distilled at the now closed Caroni Distillery before being aged for 19 years.
  • Vintage Barrique Aged Guyana Rum – Column-distilled at the now closed Uitvlugt Distillery before being aged for 13 years.
  • Vintage Barrique Aged Guyana Rum – Pot-distilled at the now closed Enmore Distillery before being aged for 20 years.
  • Vintage Barrique Aged Panama Rum – Column-distilled at the Don Jose Distillery before being aged for 15 years.
  • Extra Old Barrique Aged Jamaica Rum  – Is a blend of Jamaican rums dating back to 1983, which were re-casked further develop before bottling.

So head down to Portobello Road’s Trailer Happiness on Monday 2nd April 2012 from 7pm onwards and all being well, you’ll get a chance to try the entire range and learn more about this fantastic range of rums. Further details can be found on the Mezan Rum @ The Rum Club Facebook page. For those interested in learning more about the London Rum Club, please either visit the Rum Club website or pop into Trailer Happiness and speak to the bar staff.

The Rum Club – Banks Rum Jan 30

Notting Hill Rum ClubHaving missed out on the last Rum Club of 2011, I was really looking forward to starting the New Year at Trailer Happiness‘ Notting Hill Rum Club. And I can happily say that I wasn’t disappointed.

Having first come across Banks 5 Island Rum at September 2011’s Boutique Bar Show, I thought I knew what to expect of the evening’s rum tasting and that it would be more of an opportunity to catch up socially, with the other rum club members. So it was a pleasant surprise to find out how wrong I was. Not only did I get the chance to reacquaint myself with this distinctive white rum, but we were also introduced to its more complex brother, Banks 7 Golden Age.  Banks Rum Master Blender - Arnaud de Trabuc

Ensuring that good things often come in three’s, James Triffo of Spirit Cartel also brought along the Banks Rum Master Blender, Arnaud de Trabuc, who talked us through our exploration of the evening’s rum and how Banks came to be.

So following a uniquely Banks 5 Island Daiquiri made by the bar team of Alex and Paul McFadyen (covering for Max and Damien), we sat down to listen to James and Arnaud explain the concept of Banks Rum.

Named after the 18th Century explorer and botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain James Cook on his first scientific expedition to the South Pacific Ocean aboard HMS Endeavour. As well as introducing the Western world to many plants, such as eucalyptus, acacia, mimosa and Banksia, Sir Joseph Banks was also influential in the propagation of sugar cane in the Caribbean.

In this light, Banks Rum attempts to capture the spirit of this English naturalist by bringing together different rums from both the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean to create a distinctive premium rum.

Conceived in 2009 it took 14 months of blending and sampling, before Banks 5 Island Rum was introduced to America in June 2010 prior to it arriving on the UK shores in March 2011. It is a blend of 21 different rums aged between 1 and 5 years old from 6 different distilleries on 5 different islands: Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and the Indian Ocean island of Java.

The blend is then aged further in used Bourbon barrels in Amsterdam, before it is then charcoal filtered to remove the colour prior to it being slowly cut with Dutch water to a bottling strength of 43% ABV / 86 Proof.

Banks 5 Island Rum & 7 Golden Age RumThe aroma is noticeably of grassy sugar cane, almost reminiscent of Brazilian Cachaça or Rhum Agricole, while the taste starts with smooth, grassy, tropical fruit flavours, that always reminds me of the British Parma Violets sweets. It finishes with a slightly sweet spiciness.

To describe this rum as unique is not an understatement, it really is unlike any other rum that I’ve tried and it’s one that continues to provoke mixed feelings for me. There’s a lot to like about this rum and I can see it being a really interesting premium white rum for a good mixologist to play with the distinctive and complex flavours. However, that same complexity that I see as allowing a creative expression is also the same complexity that I personally think is too much in some simpler cocktails, such as the Cuba Libre or the Daiquiri.  As such I don’t see this as being my go-to white rum but more of a playful premium mixing rum.

Our other rum of the evening was the soon to be introduced Banks 7 Golden Age Rum and what a treat it was. Aged between 1 and 7 years, this is a blend of 23 rums from 7 different islands: Barbados, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad and the Indian Ocean island of Java. Unfiltered, the addition of the Guatemalan and Panamanian rums give this dark amber rum a sweeter and lighter taste than Banks 5, while still retaining some of the spicy finish. Like Banks 5, it is also bottled at 43% ABV / 86 Proof. For me this was the highlight of the evening and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes rum.

It’s worth noting that the complexity of both of these rums is due to the distinctive blend of rums. From the simple, but strong Trinidadian rums to the full-on flavour of the pot-distilled Jamaican rums via the fruity Guyanese rum and the elegant and spicy bite of the rums from Barbados. Lastly and possibly the most distinct element in the blend is the addition of the Batavia Arrack from Java, which adds a touch of spice, along with the fresh sugar cane notes. In addition, the Banks 7 Golden Age Rum adds the sweet Solera rum from Guatemala, as well as the smooth flavours of the rum from Panama.

To round of the evening’s tasting, James teased us with a hint of Bank’s next rum, which will be named in honour of HMS Endeavour. Without a sample available for the evening, there’s not really anything more that can be said about Banks Endeavour Rum at this point, but if it’s as good as their Golden Age rum it will be worth waiting for. Watch this space for future news.

Of course no evening at Trailer Happiness would ever be complete without a bit of Tiki inspired flaming on the copper lined ceiling and what’s better than some 73% ABV / 146 Proof rum to help brighten up the place… Of course it also goes without saying, don’t try this at home as you’ll more than likely catch fire to the house, injure yourself or worse still set the cat alight…

Flaming at Trailer Happiness Bar

As usual, my thanks to Max and the Trailer team for yet another great Rum Club and to James Triffo of Spirit Cartel for a wonderful evening with Banks Rum. Details for the next rum club are still pending, so please keep an eye on the Rum Diary for any update. For those interested in learning more about the London Rum Club, please either visit the website or pop into Trailer Happiness and speak to the bar staff.