We found ourselves at 17 Cornelia St. in Manhattan. Smells of skirt steak and cigars wafted from the balconies above while we waited for Scott. Not only had Scott suggested I come to rum fest, he invited me to a gathering the night before with the promise of meeting fellow tiki lovers and trying more rums than I probably owned. For purposes of meeting, Scott said he’d be in a tiki shirt and had a beard. Meeting Scott brought back memories of Tales of the Cocktail. Putting a face to those you respect and talk with regularly online is a fun experience.
We both arrived with treasure. Scott had an entire box full of rum, which I’ll discuss later, and I brought some homemade falernum and my 4-month-old pimento dram. I also brought along Canton and raspberry shrub to try, but the rum tasting was so intense that these two sat unloved next to the bar. I had no idea what to expect of these random tikiphiles I was about to meet. I entered what can only be called a personal tiki paradise. Bamboo, lined the bar, tiki mugs lined the wall, and rums occupied places of importance throughout the apartment.
I was greeted by the hosts, Joe and Nicole, who would prove to be not only great people but lovers of rum, tiki, and well-made Mai Tais. In addition to the hosts, I was greeted by not one, but three parrots. Their plumage was vibrant and their demeanors excellent. I can only recall the name of their largest, Shina. (Nicole, please correct me if they weren’t all parrots!) A spread of cheeses, pâtés, and a Tortuga rum cake were laid out before the guests and I had little time to meet anyone before Joe offered to make me a Mai Tai. Joe, fearing the wrath of Kaiser Penguin, declared that he would make me a Mai Tai even if I bashed it on the Internet. To both of our delights, it was well-prepared and I said as much.
Before long, Scott opened his treasure chest of rum and stepped behind the bar. I have never met anyone so passionate about rum. I have full confidence that if we kept letting him talk about the process behind each rum, the distilleries that made them, and the uniqueness of each that we would have never tasted a drop! Luckily, some of the tiki mugs on the far wall began to rumble and Scott poured our first sample. It was Prichard’s white rum.
“I’ve yet to find a white rum that I like,” Scott declared. We would argue this point throughout the weekend, me trying to convince him to try the rums in cocktails instead of rating them on their own. The Prichard’s was one of the smoothest whites I’ve tasted, though its backbone was a bit weaker than Brugal. I could see it in working well in the Waikikian.
We moved on to the Maui gold, which has some interesting qualities and could substitute as a gold Puerto Rican on occasion. Only available in Hawaii, it’s worth a try, though not worth the shipping costs. Joe, my purveyor of the finest passion fruit syrup could perhaps become a supplier to anyone interested. Just let me know if you want to try it.
El Dorado 15 made an appearance and confirmed that Demerara rum is one of the tastiest substances on this planet. I also learned that both Lemon Hart and El Dorado are made by the same company.
Two mystery rums came next. Both made by a rum aficionado from Texas, they were complex and pleasing. One was a tropical rum with hints of pine nuts and citrus (thanks Nicole for identifying these fine qualities). The latter was a gold rum that will most likely result in me sending several emails begging for samples.
We finished up with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva, Santa Teresa 1796, and Zaya 12-year-old. The latter, which is actually obtainable in PA, is quite delicious. I’m not going to go into super-detail on all of these rums, as Scott has already done so. He was taking copious notes the whole weekend, which delighted me, as I was able to sit back and avoid live-blogging every moment.
We finished off the evening, or so I thought, with a peanut rum cream. Though not complex or stunning, this easily fits the bill for the peanut butter-flavored liqueur I’ve been lusting after for a while now.
The rest of the evening was exceptional and Joe and Nicole were the finest of hosts. They even spoke to their local cheesemonger about which cheeses would go well with rum. Their find was perfect, and we enjoyed it with another round of Zaya.
I actually skipped a rum in there that Scott has talked about before. I don’t want to steal all his glory, so I’ll leave the lusty description to him.