Champion of the DI Cocktail Challenge and Santa Teresa ambassador Jim Wrigley knows his cocktail onions when it comes to rum. Here’s his take on the evolution of the rum cocktail.
“The many varied range of rums was adopted into cocktail culture early on, with ‘Professor’ Jerry Thomas’ using combinations of Jamaica, Medford (an early American rum) & Santa Cruz rums in different proportions as the base in cocktails like the Medford Rum Punch, blending the styles to create the required weight and balance for the drink.
“It’s a trend that is carried through the cocktail tomes of Harry Craddock, Harry McElhone and many others – take a light Spanish-style rum (like Santa Teresa from Venezuela), a heavier Jamaican-style rum (Myer’s or Appleton’s) and create a more interesting flavour profile than either would supply on its own.
“Currently, there are trends in the world of mixed drinks towards ‘rediscovering’ classic cocktails from the late 1800s through to World War II, propagated by the popularity of the speakeasy bar and the work of cocktail historians such as Ted Haigh, David Wondrich & Robert Hess. This has led to a massive increase in use and production of different bitters & lost or forgotten spirits and liqueurs in cocktails and menus worldwide.
“One of the more prevalent trends in mixed rum drinks is the renaissance of Tiki culture, birthed by rum-mixing luminaries such as Don ‘Beachcomber’ Beach and ‘Trader Vic’ Bergeron in the early 1930s and 40s and utilising the same marriage of multiple rums as the base in cocktails like the Zombie and Missionary’s Downfall.
“Driving this has been the work of dedicated rum-geeks such as Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry, and the emergence of newer Tiki bars like Trailer Happiness, Keko Moku, PKNY, Lani Kai, Mahiki, Kanaloa, following in the footsteps of classic Tiki watering-holes like Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale.”
Another of these new Tiki waterholes, and one favoured by THE rum ambassador, Ian Burrell, is Liars Club in Manchester, UK.
Bar keep Lyndon Higginson, formerly of Keko Moku says the Zombie is the key to Tiki magic. He says: “I’ve seen many interpretations of this drink over the years that are all loosely based on Don The Beachcomber’s original recipe from 1934. We use a mix of Appleton VX, Bacardi Superior, Brugal Anejo, Diplomatico Anejo, El Dorado 3 and Goslings 151 rums that we mix with a blend of Cherry Heering, Velvet falernum, La Fee Absinthe, vanilla syrup and passion fruit syrup which is then shaken with grapefruit, pineapple and orange juices, then served in a pint tankard and set on fire. “Since we opened seven months ago we’ve sold over 10,000!”
The bar holds a Rum Society once a month and invites brand ambassadors, trade and consumers to taste new rums. When it comes to ingredients, Higginson says making your own is all the rage. “Homemade syrups, like orgeat (almond), grenadine and passionfruit and all sorts of homemade bitters are being made and experimented with in all good bars around the UK. People are paying a lot more attention to really good garnishes too, which is an integral part of any drink and is often overlooked.”