“Rum is the history of America in a glass,” says author Wayne Curtis, in the introduction of his excellent book, And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World In Ten Cocktails. “It came out of the confusion of a freshly settled land, and its production became one of the dominant industries of the new economy,” writes Curtis. Through ten cocktails, Curtis explains not just the evolution of the spirit, but the development of the entire New World.
At Bazurto Social Club in Cartagena, Colombia’s once down and out Getsemani quarter, a new scene is emerging in the Caribbean enclave. There’s not the cookie cutter cruise ship emerald shops and Hard Rock Cafes, but rather the atmosphere is fueled by the faded stone walls, graffiti, loud music, and strong drink. In this day glow painted bar, owned by Jorge Escandón of La Cevicheria fame, that particular strong drink would be the Machaca’o, a newly invented cocktail that is aiming to become Cartagena’s official.
On an almost unbearably hot day on the Riviera Maya, I came across the Refresco, a tequila based cocktail at Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s Sands restaurant, where the infinity pool joins with the turquoise blue Caribbean water to meet the horizon. As it’s name would lead you to believe, the cocktail is indeed refreshing. Here’s what you need to put in your glass:
Besides the Pisco Sour, Algarobbina, and Chilcano, the El Capitán (the Captain) is one of the most common Pisco based cocktails you will find in Peru. There is no exact date that the cocktail can be traced back to in Peru, though it was likely created by Italian immigrants in Lima with the arrival of vermouth (Cinzano Rosso) in 1854. The name, as the legend goes, is derived from military captains who rode on horseback in the altiplano near Puno and asked for a drink of pisco mixed with vermouth. Basically, the El Capitán is the Pisco version of a Manhattan.
At Cusco restaurant Limo Cocina Peruana & Pisco Bar I sampled this fruity cocktail that has quite a powerful kick thanks to the Aji Limo, a flavorful Peruvian chile pepper.
When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil I had been traveling for approximately 22 hours. Many of those hours I was rushing to catch a train, to catch a flight, and to catch another flight. I dropped my bags off at my hotel, the Marina All Suites in Leblon, and went straight to the Hotel Fasano’s Al Mare restaurant in Ipanema to begin my first lesson in Brazilian cachaça, which few realize is the third most consumed spirit in the world. I started off with a almost traditional caipirinha with a little bit of fresh passion fruit juice in it (with Leblon), Brazil’s signature cocktail that’s muddles cachaça with sugar and lime.
It’s boiling hot right now in New York. I think I just saw steam come off the East River. Saveur.com has just released this Tiki bar born recipe for Cuba Kola with 151-proof Demerara Rum that seems oh so appropriate. Enjoy! Recipe: Cuba Kola – Saveur.com.
Until a trip to Mexico last week, I have never quite grasped the concept premium, sipping tequilas. While I’ve always dug margaritas in just about any flavor, well tequila shots have lead to far too many bad incidents that I tried to avoid “My Mexican Cousin” at all costs. With the number of 100% agave Reposados and Anejos now on the market in the United States growing daily, I knew I couldn’t avoid exploring the better end of the spectrum any longer. My first purchase, a Partida Reposado.
I’ve never liked tomatoes much, even though I was born in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, the birthplace of the tomato (debatable). I think it has something to do with my Italian mother serving us Spaghetti with marinara sauce three times a week. However, I’ve become accustomed to Bloody Mary’s at Sunday brunches in Brooklyn. It’s such a pick me up after a late night, though I’ve searching long and hard for some sort of an alternative sans tomato. A sort of green drink Bloody Mary.
I was in Puerto Rico not long ago and someone was recommending to me traditional Puerto Rican food and drinks and the Piña Colada came up.
“But that’s not from Puerto Rico though, right?”
“Yes, it is. A guy at some hotel in San Juan invented it.”
My entire life I thought the Piña Colada was just some generic beach cocktail recipe, probably created by a Rum company somewhere. Heading to San Juan a few days later I went to investigate.