Rum: Please forgive me. I didn't forget you to bourbon, nor gin. Certainly you haven't seen me review or even discuss candy flavored vodka- why is that so popular? I didn't forget you to Scotch, nor did I give you up for Cognac or dare I say some Biodynamic wine. No rum, I didn't forget you. You were and are my first love. The first time that I tasted you down in the British Virgin Islands at Soggy Dollar Bar stirred in a "Painkiller" (for I was filled with pain down in the islands) or woven into a Bushwacker- oh don't ask what was in it. I know it was rum and crushed ice, cream de cacao and more rum. Well, that's for another day.
I don't make a habit of drinking to excess. My friend Ed Hamilton of the Ministry of Rum taught me drink better/drink less. This is true- yet there is a fine line between mere inebriation and the puncheon. I know to beware that. You should too. It only comes in a Listerine container. A very small one at that. Poteen comes to mind. Hell in a bottle is next.
Down in St. Barth they make punch in the traditional French, island style restaurants that line the harbor of Gustavia. That means tropical fruits and rum.
Yachts moor stern in like in St. Tropez. French is spoken. Rum is the language as well as Champagne. Sometimes they collide with horrid results to the inexperienced and jaded alike. The roads are too steep and not well marked. I suggest not testing the flimsy guard rails and 1000 foot, nearly sheer drops.
It was on St. Barth that I first tried the Bacardi Ron Solera. I'd just spent the better part of two weeks on a yacht and was in a state of constant thirst for new flavors, new textures. If I knew then what I know today (next to nothing) about rum, I'd have brought more of the exotics back home. There is an incredible diversity of flavor in rum.
The Bacardi is not anything like any rum I had ever tasted from Bacardi. For a bar in St. Barth to stock Bacardi- it had to be something incredible- with all the rums of the world available to be purchased. I feel that the Ron Solera is one of the finest little (I say little next to the big brother in Puerto Rico, they don't even exist on the radar) rum around anywhere. This is a labor of love for the distiller. Made in Mexico, not Puerto Rico, the Solera is like a secret still, unknown to most.
I think this would make a most honorable Christmas gift.
Ron Solera is produced in the Solera method. Like making Sherry. This is, quite simply removing a portion of the rum from a cask and adding a bit younger (or older) samples of rum directly to the barrel. There is a marriage of sorts in the barrel, an alchemy. Some old rum, some quite old and some new- all aging harmoniously. Lovely thought.
How does Bacardi, a company that makes millions of cases of rum per year, switch gears and create a passionate, limited production item like the Solera? I'm really not sure. But the proof is in the bottle. Open the top. The scent of charred vanilla greets the nose. It's creamy and full bodied. I detect immediately dark, bittersweet chocolate maybe 75% bitter. It's suddenly deeply warming on my mouth and the depth becomes profound. I want to put some in a snifter and sit, quite still in front of the wood burning stove. It's truly gorgeous stuff.
Get a bottle and serenade your emotions deeply with the Ron Solera. If you add anything to your glass of the Ron Solera make it a perfect ice cube from your Williams-Sonoma 2'' silicone ice cube tray. Filter your water first using the Mavea "Inspired Water" pitcher first... (essential!)
Sweet oranges give way to creamy chocolate and pain grille notes. A buzz of alcohol straightens out your mind, you can feel the spark and warmth adding a nice fuzzy feeling to my throat. I love this rum!
The Serralles DonQ Gran Anejo
The sturdy box that holds this important rum is padded in gold satin. I say important because everything about this rum is impressive. Not just the packaging, but the flavor. Glistening Wheat in hue and tinged with a shimmer from the oily oak- this rum is meant to be savored. It's a very soft slurp in mouth-feel. It doesn't have the richness of the Ron Solera from Barcardi, yet it reminds me much more of real Cuban Rum. Restrained, enrobed in threads of salted caramel, this rum is important to behold. The bottle is a decanter, handsome and masculine. It's reminiscent of Bourbon. I wouldn't be surprised if the casks were used Bourbon oak. I can taste the char and smoke deeply. If you add anything to this rum, make it a single cube of coconut water ice.
White flowers give way to charred stone fruits and the taste of wet stones. Lick a stone and see what I mean. The finish is dry, salty from the sea and jagged from the cask. I want to drink this in a snifter with a slice of grilled orange on the side for tasting.
The Serralles DonQ Gran Anejo is world class, just as the Bacardi Ron Solera is as well. They are both historic brands with passion in the driver's seat. I tasted them side by side with wheat crackers for balance. These are powerful reminders that gigantic companies can also produce passionate liquors that truly speak volumes of the craft of making spirits. Someone need to have their hand shaken for their vision!
This is rum for the boardroom!
My friend Natalie Maclean asked me if I would take a look at her newest book. I told her of course. What Natalie may- or may not know is that before I began to write about food or travel or even cocktails, I wrote about wine. (about three years ago)
I love wine that speaks of the place. I'm not impressed by grand cru- I mean it's nice to be able to afford old wine, but for the rest of us, Natalie is doing a great service. She demystifies wine and obviously writes with a smile.
(I didn't write this, Natalie sent this press release to me)
UNQUENCHABLE: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines
by Natalie MacLean
"The bottom line: Buy it, savour it, use it." —The Globe and Mail
From the author of the bestselling Red, White and Drunk All Over, comes, Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World’s Best Bargain Wines that will amuse and enthrall with its character sketches of obsessive personalities, travel to gorgeous vineyards, mouth-watering descriptions of food and wine, "hidden" wine education and neurotic humor.
Packed with colorful stories about the passionate personalities who inhabit the world of wine, award-winning wine writer Natalie MacLean whisks you to the mountainside vineyards of Germany, the baked red earth of Australia, and the shady verandahs of Niagara--as well as to scenic, offbeat locations in southern Italy, the Mediterranean, Argentina, Chile and South Africa--all in search of the best value bottles the world has to offer.
Of her journey, Natalie MacLean says, “I've spent the past several years traipsing around the world, visiting wineries, tasting their offerings, and searching for the world's best inexpensive wines. The narrative is as familiar as Arthur's quest for the grail and as naïve as the little bird’s plaintive search for the affirmative in Are You My Mother?”
Standing firmly against wine snobbery and using her signature conversational style, MacLean insists that good wine doesn't have to be expensive. There's plenty to take away from her inspired recommendations from food pairings to lists of favorite value wines and wineries, plus plenty of pointers that will deepen your own drinking pleasure.
Natalie MacLean, named the World's Best Drinks Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia, is the only person to have won both the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation and the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing from Les Dames d'Escoffier International. Her regular wine columns in print reach 5.1 million readers, her free wine e-newsletter is read by more than 145,000 wine lovers and her mobile applications for iPhone and BlackBerry have been downloaded by more than 160,000 smartphone users.
An accredited sommelier, she is the author of Red, White and Drunk All Over, chosen as the Best Wine Literature Book in the English language at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
You can find high-resolution images of the book cover here:
Watch a short, tongue-in-cheek video with Natalie’s wine and book pairings:
He is one of 12 journalists world-wide, and the only one from the USA to participate in the Fête de la Gastronomie- the weekend of September 22nd. 2012 in Burgundy.
He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2011/2012.
Warren presented freestyle mixology at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon. (2012)
Warren judged the Iron Mixology competition at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (2012)
Warren has published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles.
You may also find him on the web at: http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com
Warren is a published food writer and former cook.
He's written food and cocktail articles and news for Edible Jersey, Chutzpah Magazine, Voda Magazine, Tasting Table, Serious Eats and Total Food Service Magazine.
Warren attended the Kentucky Derby and the Oaks Day Races this year while on assignment for Voda Magazine.
He writes for the "Fabulous Beekman 1802 Boys" as their cocktail writer. (The Soused Gnome)
He writes for Williams-Sonoma on their Blender Blog.
Warren began his climb to becoming a cook as a pot scrubber at the York Harbor Inn in York Harbor, Maine in 1985.
He cooked at Alberta's in Portland, Maine during mid-80's.
Warren is the former owner and co- founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in Charleston, SC while cooking at the Primerose House and Tavern. (Also in Charleston)
He spent Hurricane Hugo (1989) in his former home in Charleston and lost his business.
Warren was # 30 in Saveur Magazine's 100 for his writing about the humble Tuna Melt.
Headshot photograph taken at the Ministry of Rum in San Francisco- August 2010
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