This is the debut post from Matt Robold. Matt is an Orange County, California-based blogger with a passion for rum, an interest he indulges on his blog Rum Dood.
Tales of the Cocktail is rapidly approaching us, and it can’t come soon enough. This year will mark my first venture out to the show, and I couldn’t be more excited. In addition to giving me an excuse to visit New Orleans and providing me with the opportunity to hobnob with the creme-de-la-creme of the cocktail blogosphere, the sessions on tap all seem too good to possibly pass up. Sessions will be covering everything from New Orleans history to bartending techniques to molecular mixology – and the idea of missing any of them pains me greatly.
One session I will not be missing unless I’m somehow restrained by large men with guns, is “Rum, Ron, Rhum” on Sunday morning — the last day of the event.
The Triple-R session is being hosted by Wayne Curtis (freelance writer, author of …and a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, and all-around-nice-guy), Angus Winchester (rum expert, founder of Alconomics, and mixologist extraordinaire), Ben Jones (of Rhum Clement), and Chesterfield Browne (award-winning bartender for Mount Gay Distilleries). In a mere 90 minutes, these men will lead you down the long and winding path that is the past, present, and future of rum.
“Rum, Ron, & Rhum” will cover a lot of bases, everything from the history of rum from the Elizabethan Age through the modern era to the differences in styles between the numerous rum-producing nations and distilleries that dot the Caribbean and other tropical locales of the world to the current trends in today’s market. It’s a lot of ground to cover in a scant hour and a half.
I caught up with Wayne via email as he and I likely passed each other in the air, criss-crossing the US (admittedly, his criss-crossing was probably much more interesting and fun than mine). I asked him how he could possibly go about fitting over 300 years of rum history into a presentation that lasts only 90 minutes, especially considering that they won’t only be discussing rum’s history.
“It took me about two years to do the research and writing,” Wayne responded, “and there’s no way to compress that two years of the underlying three centuries into 90 minutes. So we’ll be skimming across the top, and looking at some of the highlights of history and the chief variations of style.”
Styles are something of which rum has no shortage. From Jamaican to Barbadian to Cuban to Demerara and on and on and on; the breadth of the spirit’s offerings can be dizzying and even somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated. I asked Wayne what his favorite of the myriad styles is.
“In general, I tend to be a fan of the heavier, Demerara-style rums — they just seem to concentrate and intensify the flavors of the rum, like a good gelato. But my preferences shift by season and day – sometimes toward something a little lighter (like Ron Barillito or Mount Gay Extra Old), and often I find myself just wanting a robust rhum agricole white with a bit of lime and sugar.”
So what does it all mean? What will people take away from this concentration of rum expertise?
“I hope people come away knowing the main difference between the flavor profiles of the sugar cane and molasses based rums, how different rum styles emerged from different islands, and which are best in different types of cocktails.”