Booze Muse

The art and craft of liquid inspiration

Rummed Out: Brazil’s national spirit cachaça fights for its name

Cachaca, News and Dish, Rum No Comments »

A decade ago, ordering a caipirinha outside the Brazilian enclaves in South Florida or New York would puzzle most bartenders. However, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of producers, the now-ubiquitous cocktail (made with cachaça, lime and muddled sugar) can be ordered in places as diverse as Café Laguardia, Al Primo Canto, Café 28 or Karyn’s on Green.

“Caipirinha has been the object of intense experimentation by bartenders and mixologists in the US,” explains Vicente Ribeiro of Fazenda Soledade in Rio de Janeiro. “A larger variety of fruits have demonstrated cachaça can be as versatile as vodka, albeit with a higher complexity of aromas and flavors.”

“When we started in 2005, awareness was less than one percent of cocktail consumers,” explains Steve Luttmann of Leblon, one of the major premium brands commercialized in the United States. Awareness of cachaça among cocktail consumers is now nearly twenty percent in the major markets (New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami). The caipirinha, with thirty-percent awareness, is now one of the top-ten cocktails on menus, and was the fastest-growing cocktail in 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Tastings: Rubi Rey Reserve Rum

Rum, Tastes of What's to Come No Comments »

rubi-rey-rumThe Product: Rubi Rey Reserve Rum

The Premise: A single barrel finished white rum that’s aged on the coast of northern Puerto Rico and then later filtered for “clarity.”

The Tasters and Their Qualifications: Emily (works at a nursing home, so drinks a lot), Megan (can’t stop drinking), Marcus (“I don’t drink swill, even if it’s free”), Lenny (“I don’t like being sober, I don’t like my life”), Phil (almost finished the “Century Club” once), Tom (“Booze has no memory, and neither do I”)
Total years of legal drinking: 30

The Packaging: An arresting red bottle invokes summertime recollection, but also that creepy kid from “The Shining” running around the hotel yelling “Red Rum!” over and over. Drink at your own risk!

Tasters rated the following on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “I wouldn’t take it if it was free” and 10 being “I’m heading to the liquor store right now to get my own!” Read the rest of this entry »

Tastings: Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva

Rum, Tastes of What's to Come No Comments »

The Product: Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva

The Premise: Originating in Cuba 130 years ago, now aged 15 years in the Dominican Republic, Gran Reserva calls itself the “cognac of rum.”

The Tasters and their Qualifications: Jason, Tara (has drank on four out of seven continents), Brian and Jan (self-proclaimed “shots champion”). Total years of legal drinking: 79

The Packaging: Classic look befitting the high-falutin’ aspirations of this venerable product

Tasters rated the following on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “I wouldn’t take it if it was free” and 10 being “I’m heading to the liquor store right now to get my own!”

The Nose: 9. Smooth, with hints of caramel

The Taste: 8.5 Rich smooth taste, with notes of vanilla. Good finish.

The Recipe (wherein we mix up a drink from the company’s Web site, when relevant):

The Cuban Special
1 1/2 oz. Matusalem Gran Riserva
Juice from half a lime
1 1/2 oz. Cointreau (we used Triple Sec)
1 1/4 oz. Pineapple juice
Ice cubes
Shake all ingredients over ice in a shaker; strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lime twist

This was a very popular and refreshing summer drink. Some tasted a bit too much lime, some too much pineapple, but over all, the verdict was refreshing.

The Overall Verdict: 8.5 A great rum, on the rocks or in a Cuban Special