Matt Robold is hosting a contest called Mai Tai Madness over at RumDood.com. The occasion is the start of the summer and the celebration of what we both agree is the best tropical drink, the Mai Tai. The Mai Tai is probably the only Tiki-style drink that I would place on my All Time Top Ten, which is a statement of just how good it is. It’s not that I have anything against Tiki, but I have such a strong preference for rich, savory, spirits-based cocktails that there aren’t many Tiki offerings that bust through my preferences. And no, I don’t consider a Papa Doble or classic Daiquiri to be Tiki drinks. These are classics through and through.
Anyway, in honor of the Mai Tai Matt is asking cocktail bloggers to write about rum. Or, more specifically:
Write a blog post about your favorite rum, rum cocktail or best rum experience. Tell me and your readers why a particular rum or drink captured your attention or about the first time a bartender made your eyes pop out of your head with some rummy goodness.
This is such a tough question! I’m a growing rum fan and am still exploring my way through this complex and delicious spirit. I can talk about the best Mai Tai I’ve ever had, made by Derek Brown when he was at The Gibson, using his home made orgeat syrup. It literally blew away my perception of what this cocktail could be. But I’d rather focus my attention on a different rum cocktail, by a different DC craft bartender.
It was the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration as President and I was at the Secret Service Ball, hosted by a number of members of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild. Gina Chersevani of PS 7s had made a number of politically named cocktails. But the one that stood out to me was The Situation Rum. I’ve always been a fan of drinks that use floral flavors, as well as ones that use tea. These two elements can dramatically change the taste of a cocktail. The Situation Rum used a hibiscus tea, drawing on the best of both of these flavor elements, and created a floral, tropical cocktail that celebrated President Obama’s roots in Hawai’i. It was remarkably complex, including a range of herbacious and citrus flavors, along with a mint garnish, that brought you into the drink in much the same way a great Mai Tai does. Moreover, it was still accessible and made you want to continue exploring it with each sip. Here’s a recipe I found in a Wall Street Journal article on inauguration cocktails:
The Situation Rum
2 oz hibiscus tea
1 oz rum
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz fresh lemon juice
1 dash simple syrup
Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
The type of rum isn’t specified in the WSJ piece. But this blog specifies it as Mount Gay XO, which would be a sensible pick in my book. I could see other amber/gold type rums with a good bit of aging to provide woody flavor of the Mount Gay XO work with it as well.
I can probably scrape my memory for other times when a bartender really wowed me with a rum cocktail. But maybe it’s because I was so happy about President Obama’s inauguration, or maybe it’s that finding such a simple yet complex cocktail is always exciting to me, but Gina’s Situation Rum is one that comes to the front of my mind when thinking about all the great things that are possible through the creative use of rum.