April 10th, 2008


Rhum tasting at Bourbon

I kept waiting for tmfiii to post something on this but he hasn't, so I thought I'd comment on it.

I'm not the hugest rum drinker.  A lot of times I've been convinced that I don't have any rum, and then I go buy some, and realize, hey, I do have rum.

I mean, look at this picture:

You know what this picture says?  It says that it's 72 degrees out and I'm working from home today so HA!  Well, not all day, but by the time I was done elsewhere it was more efficient to finish things from here.

But I've got several kinds of rum.  The two minis are Tommy Bahama that I got, I don't know, somewhere, and the one on the far right is Marti, which is basically "mojito in a bottle" type rum, introduced to me by the ineffable dan_oz.  He also gave me that bottle of Foursquare right next to the Marti.  The two next to it are Dogfish Head rums - wit spiced and honey brown - and then your standard bottle of Bacardi (I have no idea how old that is), a bottle of the Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc (more on that one later), and a bottle of Goslings, one of the few rums I really do like a whole heck of a lot, and thus it's a new bottle because my previous ones always get mysteriously drunked.

But back to the rhum tasting.

Hosted at Bourbon, one of my favorite restaurants, it featured Ed from the Ministry of Rum and was apparently also sponsored by Caribbean Spirits.  We'd learned about the event from some forums that we frequent, and as the type of guy who is always really late or really early, I showed up way early.

My taxi driver from Farragut West deposited right next to that little place of heaven on earth, Julia's Empanadas, in Adams Morgan.  Scarfing down a saltena and a Chilean empanada, I proceeded to walk down past M'Hawt Haute Dawgs (which was closed, alas, shooting down those post-drinking plans) to Bourbon.

The event was to start at 7:30 for the public and I was there just after 6.  The staff told me to go on upstairs, and so I did, getting a chance to meet Jake.  I didn't introduce myself as it pertains to this blog, as I later found I should have, and despite his offer of staying at the upstairs bar while the trade event continued I went downstairs to meet with Marshall and his coworker Steve, taking the opportunity to order a nice Eagle Rare 17 year old and drink some Stone Pale Ale while waiting.

Marshall got there and had a whiskey while we waited until closer to 7:30.  More people were showing up and going upstairs, so what the heck, we figured, and up we went.  We introduced ourselves to Jake who mentioned we should've come up earlier, since we're like bloggers and stuff.  Who knew?  That's cool, and that's also why the incredibly talented harmakhet is working on making us a kick-butt logo and business cards and one of Marshall's other coworkers (how many people does he work with?!) will be doing some photographic type stuff.  Hopefully.

ANYWAY, as I get distracted on this caffeine jag I have thanks to chugging a can of Coke Zero, and the forty two (or was it three?) glasses of Diet Coke I had at the M&S Grill in Reston, we walked over to the bar where the bartender made for us a drink with stone pine liqueur, amongst other things, in it.  It still needed a certain something, so he floated a bit of Aviation Gin (two bottles of which I'd bought earlier that day from Joe at Ace Beverage, so fresh off the truck it was still in the box on a handcart, and one of which was at that very moment in Marshall's bag to be delivered back to his casa) on top.  That really made the drink.

(I'd had an Aviation Gin and Fever tree tonic, with some lemon instead of lime, as I left the house.  Tasty.  I made another one yesterday before kickball using my last bottle of Q tonic, and it might've been a touch better.  Sometime soon - maybe today, even - I'll try it with Stirrings tonic.  But I digress.)

We got to meet Ed, and he made for us a "Ti Punch".  That's a splash of Petite Canne Sugar Cane Syrup, imported from Martinique, a slice of lime rind (note the emphasis there), the Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc, stirred, and with ice.  The drink changes as the ice melts - I wasn't a huge fan of it initially, but near the end I liked it a lot.

While we tasted the Neisson that way - I already had a bottle of it, but wanted to try the Ti Punch - Ed was talking to some other people about rum tastings and I kept getting distracted by the 1960s Batman movie on the projection TV.  After a while we went ahead and tasted one of the other rhums, and I went to try what might've been my favorite of the night - the La Favorite Rhum Agricole Vieux.

This rhum is a blend, aged at least three years, and the heart of the rhum (whatever that is) is aged in used American whisky and bourbon barrels, so it's rather dark and I thought it would taste really good perhaps made like a Ti Punch - I could see myself sitting outside, sipping one of those and smoking a maduro cigar.

Though it's one of only two rhums on the information sheet that isn't recommended to do that with, the other being the Neisson Rhum Reserve Speciale (and it has all kinds of accents in the name that I can't type out here in LJ, sorry.)

After we finished with the rums it was time for something else.  I ordered a Sazerac from the bartender, first one with Sazerac rye and the second with Rittenhouse 80 proof.  The bartender - Owen, I believe was his name - made one of the best Sazeracs I've ever had.

It was Jake's thought that for a Sazerac, the 80 proof Rittenhouse was better than the 100 proof.  So when I ordered the second one, Marshall ordered the same thing, only with 100 proof Rittenhouse.  We tasted each other's, and I think the 80 proof won - but if I remember correctly, he thought the 100 proof one.  So we'll have to agree to disagree, or more likely, just say "Marshall's wrong."

I kid, I kid!  But it will take more experimentation.  I paid close attention to how Owen made the Sazeracs and I'm going to try some of his techniques myself.  The big thing was that he filled the glass with ice and then filled it with Pernod to get the rinse, and he used proportions of simple syrup and rye that were more like the Gary Regan proportions in The Joy of Mixology than the Robert Hess ones on Drinkboy.

And if you've read my musings on Sazeracs before, you know I prefer more simple syrup in mine.

All in all it was a great time, and while we sipped our drinks we got a chance to meet and talk with Bill Thomas, the president and CEO of Bourbon.  That was really great to be able to do, too, because I like his restaurant so much, obviously, and it's always cool to be able to pass on how much you like some place to the people who run it.

Later that night we went out for jumbo slice and I got paint all over my shirt, but that was still a fun place and it wasn't that expensive of a shirt.  And it was probably the cheapest cab ride I've had out of the city - it only cost me $21.50 at my place.

Thus, that night was made up almost entirely of WIN.  A good time was had by all and I'm very thankful to Jake, Ed, Bill, and everyone else who helped organize and run the event for the hospitality and knowledge that they shared with us.

I can't wait for the next tasting - and I need to get over to Ace and get that Vieux...