Mixology Monday: Goodbye Summer
Summer has come and gone again. As I’m preparing to hunker down for another Canadian winter the thoughts of summer cocktails are slowly leaving my mind. The summer of 2006 presented me with some interesting cocktails, but the one standout ingredient was rum. Where I work the mojito was immensely popular and so was the caipirinha and caipirissima. The classic Mai Tai was popular with my guests at the bar, when I could convince them that it was a good drink and not some fruit laden cocktail concoction. Then I got my hands on a bottle of rhum agricole and of course the ‘Ti Punch need to be tried, a few times.
So what was the drink that defined my summer? Well I’d have to say rum with its co-host, the lime. Being a creative bartender, picking one cocktail to represent the summer of 2006 is like asking a parent to pick their favourite child. Every drink has something to offer, except that one I made for Mixology Monday: Aperitif edition, we can forget that one.
Rum is probably the most diverse of all the spirit classes. It comes in white editions, with a range of flavours. Matusalem white rum is very light in flavour, where as Appleton White or Havana Club Blanco have more flavour from their time spent in a barrel. Then you have the aged rums (amber rums) that have a lot more flavour, some retain that fiery rum characteristic, others are as smooth as a well aged bourbon or scotch. Then there are the dark rums like Gosling Black Seal and Planters that have heavy molasses flavours that insist on being the main flavour in any drink. Just for rum alone you can spend months working with the flavours provided by the wide range of distillers.
Aside from rum, you also have rhum agricole and cachaca. Both are distilled from pure sugar cane juice and can be bottles straight or barrel aged. Now I’m just getting into the rhum agricole, but it looks like this may be a the new kid on the block. The flavour profile is unique, which will appeal to those who like new things. It also has it’s own cocktail, the Petite Punch (aka ‘Ti Punch). White rum had the mojito, aged rum had Coke or the Mai Tai and cachaca has the caipirinha. Basically rhum agricole and cachaca add more versatility to this range of spirits, which allows more creativity from bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts.
On any given summer day I’d gladly drink a Mai Tai, Mojito, ‘Ti Punch or Caipirinha. I couldn’t care less whether they are trendy or falling out of favour, as one writer has predicted of the Mojito. They are good drinks that quench your thirst on any hot summer day. It’s something a Manhattan just can’t do when the heat is oppressive.
When it comes to summer, I’ll trust the bartenders of the Caribbean nations, and Brazil, that spend so much time in the sweltering heat. So, as I look back at the summer of 2006, these rum based drinks will be the stand outs that made the summer of 2006 more enjoyable.
Head on over to Cocktail Chronicles to see the Mixology Monday summary.