Rare would be an afternoon more convivial than one spent in the good company of rum afficianados, especially when the rum is Appleton Estate, "Crafted in the Heart of Jamaica." The gathering consisted of bartenders, rum fans, food and drink journalists, and David Morrison, Appleton Estate's Senior Blender (the fine gentleman straight from Jamaica!) to guide us in the afternoon's rum education.
Both David and Willy Shine (Total Beverage Solutions Agency) led us through the provenance, history and the blending of fine Jamaican rum....Appleton Estate rum! As Senior Blender, David schooled us in what it takes to blend some of the finest rums available: growing the best types of sugarcane in the fertile fields in the heart of Jamaica, distilling the precious liquid, Appleton's dedication to protecting the environment in the Nassau Valley of Jamaica, and the blending of the fruits of their efforts. Speaking of blending....
Each participant was provided with four bottles of various rums from the Estate and asked to create our own individual blend. The object was to create a "mixable" rum. We all set to work with bottles labeled "A" - "D" for our own take on what we'd enjoy making into a fine cocktail.
|The Appleton blending challenge lineup.|
We each added our own selected portions into a bottle that would eventually contain our own private blended, mixable rum. Once that was done, we were instructed to write our name on the bottom of a clean glass, pour a bit of our individual blend into it, and present it to David and Willy who then selected the three top mixing blends of the session.
Lynn, of Acacia in the Southside, quite deservedly won the top prize! Stunningly, I won third and a bottle of Appleton Estate Reserve Blend. Honestly, I couldn't have been more shocked.
|David Morrison, Appleton Estate Senior Blender, awarding my prize bottle of rum!|
Okay, now that we have a "mixable" rum, what do we mix with it? I came up with twists on two classics, the first using the bottle I got for third place in a Smoked Fig Rum Old Fashioned, and the 2nd cocktail using my custom blend and Appleton Signature Blend. I hope you make one (or both!) of them to enjoy soon.
Smoked Fig Rum Old Fashioned
- 2 small sugar cubes (Domino calls them "dots")
- 1/2 oz smoked fig syrup (see recipe below)
- 1/2 t. Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
- 2 oz. Appleton Estate Reserve Blend rum
- a strip of orange peel for garnish
- a fresh Black Mission fig half for garnish
In an old fashioned glass, muddle the sugar cubes, smoked fig syrup and the bitters. Add the rum and stir well until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add a large ice cube, twist the orange peel over the top of the glass and garnish the drink with the peel and a fresh fig half.
Smoked Fig Syrup: Smoke 10 fresh Black Mission figs, cut in half, in a smoker for half an hour until the figs are soft and syrupy juices are running. I used a combo of apple and pecan wood and threw the figs on the top shelf while I was smoking meatloaf on Sunday. Cool the figs.
In a small pot, combine a cup of sugar and a cup of water. Add the smoked figs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer the figs in the syrup for 20 minutes. Mash the figs a few times while cooking. Turn off the heat and let cool.
Pour the mixture into a strainer over a bowl and let the syrup drain. Press the solids with a spoon against the sides of the strainer until ALL the liquid is released into the bowl. Pour the fig syrup into a jar and cap tightly. Don't throw out the solids! Use the remains to make cookies or fig bread. Yum. Now go make you Smoked Fig Rum Old Fashioned. You've earned it!
A Simple Mai Tai
- 1 oz light rum (Appleton, of course!), I used my very own blend
- 1 oz. Appleton Estate Reserve Rum Blend
- 1/2 oz. orgeat (I used Beach Bum Berry's own from Latitude 29, you can make your own or buy one online)
- 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
- juice of 1/2 a lime
Fill a cocktail tin 3/4 of the way of up ice. Add all ingredients and shake until the tin is frosted. Pour over ice and garnish. Told you it was simple!
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