Castries and the Half-Harted Jezebel

Posted by TraderTiki on January 5th, 2009 — Posted in Drinks, Product Reviews, Recipes, Rum

Cross-posted from the Mixoloseum blog

When searching through the liqueurs available at your local (or internet local) liquor store, there are some liqueurs that immediately catch your eye. After skimming over the peach brandys, various schnapps and Curaçaos available, there are quite a few selections that just make you wonder how the hell they came up with that idea. One that particularly comes to mind, and thankfully arrived in my mailbox a few weeks back, is Castries Peanut Rum Créme.

Yes, Peanuts and Rum together again for the first time. Formerly known as “Nuts ‘n Rum”, this was relabeled sometime after 2005 as Castries, named for a region in St. Lucia, where it is distilled and bottled. The rum base is from St. Lucia distillers, makers of some regionally popular but difficult to find in the U.S. rums.

As a liqueur by itself, this stuff is, plainly said, just damned delicious. The nose starts off with a fair hint of vanilla and peanut, with the rum coming in to play if you take a real big whiff. The flavor is extremely well phased, with the cream initially blocking the peanut, making the peanut come into play later in the flavor, but it lingers ever so long. The flavor is like freshly roasted and crushed peanuts, like the peanut butter you’d get fresh made at a natural foods store. I’m as excited about this stuff as I was when I first found out about Thai Peanut Sauce. It’s like Peanut Butter in your dinner! Other flavors that come in to play are a slight bit of cinnamon at the end of the flavor. It’s an exquisitely well-balanced liqueur, with no flavor dominating, and a wonderful mouth feel without leaving you reaching for your toothbrush.

The bottle is, to say a few words, distinct. Resembling, perhaps, a peanut pod, it ends up a bit near the line of sex toy. Well, distinctive is better than being lost in the crowd I suppose.

You can read more great information here at Scottes Rum Pages, or at the Ministry of Rum.

As for mixing, I decided to give a shot to Rumdood’s Heartless Jezebel. However, being out of Amarula, I decided to give it a more potent edge. I present, the Half-harted Jezebel.

Half-Harted Jezebel

Half-Harted Jezebel

  • 2 oz Castries Rum Cream
  • 3/4 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Hart 80 Demerara Rum
  • .5 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
  • Fresh Cinnamon

Shake or Mix in top-down mixer with crushed ice. Pour into Old-Fashioned. Top with Cinnamon, and Garnish with a Cinnamon stick.

It’s a combination of that calm, mellow peanut flavor with a bright burst of cinnamon and allspice, backed by a hearty and rich combination of rums. I think you’ll like it. Try it against the original Heartless Jezebel, or have your own interesting Castries cocktail? Post your thoughts in the comments!


On Demerara Rum

Posted by TraderTiki on September 5th, 2008 — Posted in Don the Beachcomber, Product Reviews, Rum, Trader Vic

When you’re thinking about tiki drinks, and rum, one of the things that comes to mind is how Donn and Vic were able to blend rums to make such potent potables.  Everyone else surely had a rum or two up their sleeve, why didn’t they think to grab the rum off of the shelf, and make the next great Rum-dinger?

One of Donn’s secrets was reaching for the unknown categories of Rum, bringing in different flavors to each blend.  Probably his most used secret was Rum coming from Guyana, known as Demerara Rum.  In the past, there were a number of distilleries operating under various labels, but nowadays the sole distiller on Guyana is Demerara Distillers, Ltd.  Their signature line, El Dorado, boasts one of the largest product lines in Rum today, including a 151 proof, a dark, gold, white, and five different aged rums.  This doesn’t even include the numerous rums they produce for other labels, and the products from the distillery that go into numerous other brands, including Pusser’s and Lemon Hart.  At production rates of 26M Liters per year, that’s a lot of rum!

This smokey, rich molasses-based Rum was the secret sauce behind a number of Donn’s most famous creations, such as the Zombie, Coffee Grog, and the Demerara Dry Float.  Vic had this to say about the stuff in his “Book of Food and Drink:”

“Demerara rum… has its own class.  It is similar in some respects to dark Jamaica, but it has a dry burned flavor along with the aromatic and pungent flavor of the Jamaica rum.  The makers of Demerara rums take great pride in obtaining distinctive flavor in their products and it is interesting to try to detect their flavoring agents.”

One of the biggest contributing factors to the unique flavors brought about from Demerara Distillers has to be the use of a 200 year old Coffey Still that’s been in continuous operation for around 150 years.  The products of this still go into their finest rums, and is a particularly high selling point for Pusser’s, which gets a lot of its flavor from the unique combination of Demerara and Jamaican Rums.

Now, I couldn’t tell you precisely what brands Donn or Vic were using (Lemon Hart, Lamb’s Navy, and Hudson’s Bay were available at the time), though there are some hints in this Rebirth of the Zombie post on TikiCentral.  These days though, the Demerara most available (and highly recommended) for mixing is Lemon Hart, which is available in 80 and 151 proof.  The 151 can be distinguished solely by a red triangle in the upper left side (while facing) of the label denoting “151″.  After a few rather sloshy mistakes, I now put a bright red speed pour on the top of my 151 bottle to distinguish the two.

I was given a few samples of the 12, 15, and 21 year rums by the folks at Demerara Distillers, and had imbibed plenty of the stuff down at Tales of the Cocktail.  I am very pleased to have such good stuff generally available, if not locally, online, and am proud to boast almost the entire collection now at the Galley.

The 12 year rum starts off with a bit of a punch of smoke to the nose, but calms down after a few minutes in the glass.  The taste is a bit of butterscotch, honey, and vanilla, with a sweet floral bite on the end.  The viscosity of this rum is just pure joy.  The 15 year is a touch dryer than the 12, still with a lot of the honey flavor.  The nose is noticeably calmer, and almost floral.  It is only slightly viscous, and has a gorgeous woody cinnamon finish to it.  The nose on the 21 year old is almost transparent, with only the vaguest hints of a floral cologne, and honeycomb.  The flavor is sharp, with a hefty alcoholic punch at the front, making way for cedar and citrus notes on the tongue.  The 21 year is definitely one to try, but I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed with the younger rums.  Now if only I could get my hands on a bottle of the 25 year, wouldn’t that be a treat?

While the higher aged rums can be a touch pricey to mix with, like Gary Regan says, crap in, crap out.  The 12 year actually falls around the same price point ($24) as the Lemon Hart 80, and is quite a bit smoother, while maintaining that same sharp smoke note at the front.  The biggest intial tell between the two is the rich, syrupy viscosity of the 12 year compared to the Lemon Hart 80.   After sitting a few minutes, the notes of the 12 still stand strong, while the Lemon Hart 80 has lost a bit of its initial punch, but still packs a bit of burn on the end.

The 12 year El Dorado, while a lovely sipping Rum, absolutely shimmers and shines in this adaptation of a Trader Vic original, the Rum Pot.

Rum Pot

Rum Pot

  • 1 1/2 El Dorado 12 year
  • 1/4 oz Vanilla Syrup
  • 1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
  • 3/4 oz Orange Juice
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake well and pour into Double Rocks Glass.

The depth and sweetness of the Demerara Rum and the light citrus notes from the Lemon and Orange clash in mysterious and surprisingly complex ways.  This is one of my favorites as of late, and has even been added to the permanent selection for the Tiki Third Tuesday at Teardrop Lounge menu.

For more info the fine rums of Demerara Distillers, be sure to visit the Demerara Distillers site, or their page on the Ministry of Rum.


The Prominent V

Posted by TraderTiki on August 21st, 2008 — Posted in Original Drinks, Product Reviews, Trader Vic

As you may know, or may now know, I am a bit of an Earth lover. I’ll give you a cross-eyed look if you call me a hippie, but I’ve been known to clip a 6-pack holder to avoid strangling sea birds, and hop on my bicycle for transport here and there. Well, that doesn’t always work as planned when you’re into booze. Whether it’s a cross-state trip to the liquor store, an orchard’s worth of pears in one bottle of Eau de Vie, or that bottle that shipped by oil freighter from Paraguay, liquor can be an expensive hobby for the wallet, and the planet.

Looking to change that environmental impact (as well as a few other things) is the new liquor VeevVeev is a column distilled wheat spirit mainly flavored by Açai berries, with prickly pear and acerola cherry.  If you’re not familiar with the açai berry, step back a few years ago into your local Jamba Juice.  One açai berry packs a load of antioxidants, and has pretty much become the super food of the day (move over Blue-Green Spirulina!).  It’s really interesting stuff, as the fruit flavor is different that pretty much anything out there.

Anyhoo, the company that makes the stuff was founded by Courtney and Carter Reum, with the intent of doing something entrepeneurial, but also progressive.  The company conducts Green Audits, measures itself against Climate Clean standards, has a whole scout’s sash full of badges and stamps of approval, and even donates $1 a bottle to green initiatives.  It’s all well and good, save the earth, plant a tree, but is it good stuff?  I certainly think so.  It’s unique on the market, and for my palate, pretty darn tasty.  It can be a tough sell neat, as the sourness of the fruit can be a little strong for some, but it mixes like a  miracle.

Speaking of which, here are some drinks I’ve developed using Veev as the base spirit.  I think they’re pretty damned tasty, though not the most original (see if you can figure out the inspirations).  Ah well, there’s still quite a bit of that bottle to play around with!

Vinalé

Vinalé

  • 1 oz Veev
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Green Chatreuse
  • 1 oz Falernum
  • 1/2 oz Cane Syrup (adjust for taste)

Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Cane Syrup can be omitted to adjust for taste, as homemade Falernum can vary the sweetness.

The Vic

The Vic

  • 2 oz Veev
  • 3/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat
  • 1/2 oz Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
  • 2 drops Vanilla Extract
  • Ginger Beer

Shake all but Ginger Beer and pour into Double Rocks Glass.  Top with Ginger Beer and garnish with mint and two short straws.

If you get a bottle of Veev, do give these a shot and let me know what you think.  The Vinalé has a sharp citrus flavor, with just a bit of spice and herbal notes.  The Vic is, well, I think you can figure out the inspiration, but has a that slightly sour berry flavor gently sweetened with Almond and Citrus, and given effervescence and a bit of bite with the Ginger Beer.

Oh, and if you haven’t already seen The End of Vodka, it’s pretty damned amusing (and eerily accurate).  I can’t say it’s going to work wonders and end that bedamned breathless spirit, but at least you can do some funny things on the way.