Rum island

In Barbados, rum defines a well-balanced thirst quencher

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. photo

It won’t take long, once you’ve landed in Barbados, before someone presses a glass, sparkling with condensation and filled with an amber elixir, into your hand. Welcome to the famous Barbados rum punch and the taste of island life.

In Barbados, rum punch is enjoyed by everyone from farm workers to property tycoons to pallid newcomers from wintry climes. And it’s enjoyed everywhere from the verandas of grand plantation houses to the tailgate of a jeep in the jungle.

How rum punch came to be the national drink is unknown, but not exactly surprising.

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Barbados Rum Punch

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. photo

The classic the way it is made on the island.

• 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 oz simple syrup (see note)
• 1.5 oz dark rum (such as Barbados’ own Mount Gay Eclipse, or older)
• 2 oz water
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• Freshly grated nutmeg

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Mi Luz

Mi Luz means “My Light” in Spanish and pays homage to the light within that burns strong when everyone stands tall and together. Talia Kleinplatz photo

• 2 oz Bacardi Añejo Cuatro rum
• 0.75 oz Martini Bianco vermouth
• 0.25 oz rich apple demerara syrup (see note)
• 2 dashes Scrappy’s Seville Orange Bitters
• 2 to 3 spritzes of salted caraway solution (see note)

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Painkiller

Earls Painkiller. Photo courtesy of Earls restaurants

This tiki-style cocktail is Earls restaurants’ version of the classic originally created by Pusser’s Rum. It uses two different styles of iceregular cubes and crushed.

• 0.75 oz coconut milk
• 0.75 oz passion fruit syrup
• 1 oz Bacardi Superior white rum
• 1 oz Mount Gay Eclipse Rum
• 1 oz pineapple juice
• 1 oz orange juice
• 0.25 oz lime juice
• Dash Bittered Sling Kensington bitters

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Sugar and spice

The Alchemist tasting panel gathers for a round of Caribbean aged rums

The lineup featured aged and some spiced rums from Jamaica, Nicaragua, Cuba, Guyana, Bermuda and the United States. Dan Toulgoet photo

Nothing says “tropical getaway” like the sweetly spiced flavour of rum. Although it is made all over the world, the sugar-cane spirit originated in the Caribbean islands, where we’re seeing a surge of richly complex aged rums. So when The Alchemist decided to dive into tiki culture, it made sense for our tasting panel to sample as many aged rums as possible.

Just how sweet can rum be? To find out, we gathered at Tableau Bar Bistro with some of the city’s top barkeeps: Alex Black, bar manager of Wildebeest; Max Borrowman, bar manager at Juniper Kitchen; Amber Bruce of The Keefer Bar; Sabrine Dhaliwal, cocktail consultant and Pourhouse bartender; Adam Domet, bar manager of Pourhouse; J-S Dupuis, beverage director of Wentworth Hospitality; Robyn Gray of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia; Ryan Johnson, bar manager of Tuc Craft Kitchen; and Olivia Povarchook, bar manager of Juke Fried Chicken.

The panel tasted 10 different rums; here’s what they had to say about them.

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Scorpion

Beware of the Scorpion’s lethal sting. Joanne Sasvari photo

Originally a blender drink from Beachbum Berry, and traditionally served as a bowl for six with a gardenia garnish at Trader Vic’s, the Scorpion makes a terrific single-serving shaken drink, too. Just beware of its lethal sting.

• 2 oz light rum
• 1 oz brandy
• 1.5 oz orange juice
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
• 0.75 oz orgeat

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Three Dots and a Dash

Three Dots and a Dash—victory! Joanne Sasvari photo

The garnish says it all. The three cherries are the dots, the pineapple wedge the dash, representing the letter “V” in Morse code, which was the symbol for “victory” during the Second World War.

• 1.5 oz rhum agricole or demerara rum
• 0.5 oz aged blended rum
• 0.5 oz orange juice
• 0.5 oz lime juice
• 0.5 oz honey syrup (see note)
• 0.25 oz falernum
• 0.25 oz pimento dram (see recipe)
• 1 dash angostura bitters
• Garnish: 3 cherries and 1 wedge of fresh pineapple

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Pimento Dram

Pimento Dram makes a great addition to tiki and other cocktails. Joanne Sasvari cocktail

This is a simple spice-flavoured liqueur that makes a great addition to tiki and other cocktails. Note that it will take about a week to infuse, so plan accordingly.

• 2 Tbsp whole allspice berries
• 0.5 cup light or dark rum (whichever you prefer)
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 0.5 cup water
• 0.5 cup brown sugar

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A spirited selection at the BC Distilled 2019 Audience Favourites Awards

Odd Society’s Prospector Rye Whisky was voted the audience-favourite whisky at BC Distilled. Gail Nugent photo

They came, they sipped, they chose their favourites, ranging from a delicately herbal absinthe to a boldly spiced rye whisky.

Some 600 people descended on the Croatian Cultural Centre on April 6 for the sixth annual BC Distilled festival, highlighting the best of the province’s artisan spirits. Some 180 spirits from 39 distilleries were poured over two tastings, and at the end of it all, the audience voted for their favourites in 13 categories.

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