If you’ve been hiding behind wooden barrels instead of tasting what’s in them, you may think rum is only for cocktails with umbrellas. But there’s a whole new, delicious world out there that can start now with virtual rum tastings.
That’s where I discovered Ron Barcelo rum last week, when master cantinero Julio “Papa Doble” Cabrera of Miami’s Café La Trova was on Instagram with Ron Barcelo’s Otto Flores (@ronbarcelousa). The idea was to have some of the Dominican Republic’s Ron Barcelo rum in front of you, to taste along with the experts. But the rum – I tried the Imperial – is just as smooth, dry and chocolatey any time. It’s aged up to 10 years and was used in the rum-based old-fashioned recipe given during the session.
The recipe includes 2 oz of Ron Barcelo Imperial, ¼ oz brown sugar syrup, 2 dashes each of coffee bitters and tobacco bitters (Cabrera makes this) and 1 big ice cube. After mixing until very cold, it’s served on the rocks with a grapefruit peel. And Cabrera (@juliopapadoble) insists it’s a perfect match with a cigar, which brings out the tobacco notes of the drink. He serves his in a cigar box complete with a cigar.
The other Instagram tasting (there are more held each week) was hosted by Ian Burrell of the Global Rum Category and included 14 other bartenders from around the world talking about the daiquiri. They chimed in from Singapore, Australia, Ghana, London, Jamaica, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and talked about their daiquiri experiences, preferences and recipes.
The classic daiquiri is not a frozen slushy and doesn’t use a blender. That’s the tourist hot-weather daiquiri, but it’s not the original. The original daiquiri uses rum, sugar and lime juice – a simple trio but a complicated taste. The bartenders agreed the making of this drink, for them, is the “acid test for a bar,” said Ryan Chetiyawardana of the U.K. “I judge a bar (this way),” said Shannon Mustipher in NYC, “If I get a daiquiri and can’t feel it, I immediately switch to beer.”
“Daiquiris are about memories as much as the drink itself,” said David Cid, host of Azucar y Limon podcasts. “It’s been a remedy for a cold or cough in the Western world forever.”
Overall, said Martin Cate, from San Francisco, “The best daiquiri is the one you’re having with friends.”
Here are some of the bartenders’ twists on the classic daiquiri recipe: some use a blend of rums (up to four different rums!), some use over-proofed rum for a lot more heat, different kinds of sugar (sugarcane, white granulated, brown sugar, Cuban sugar, honey syrup, agave) and all insist on fresh lime juice.
From “Maestro” Salvatore Calabrese in the U.K.: “I’m a classic person, so for me, Bacardi (Rum) is a must, with sugar and fresh lime juice.” His recipe: 2 teaspoons Cuban sugar, 2 oz. Bacardi white rum, 1 oz. lime juice. Pour in with ice, shake hard until the sugar dissolves and creates a bond with the rum, which is the structure of the daiquiri.