Every year people say that “this is the year of rum.” If this is indeed the year of rum, it bears noting that we’ll be talking specifically about regional rums. Molasses grown in different areas deliver distinct tastes and aromas, which translates into individual flavour profiles. And refashioned classic rum cocktails—Tiki drinks like the Mai Tai—are poised to drive this category.
INSPIRATION FROM THE ISLANDS
Who, in the dead of winter, doesn’t hark back to lazy days spent sipping island concoctions on the beach? The Tiki cocktail is a reminder of winter escapes. Take glassware carved into Tiki figures, kindly lent to revelers the world over from the islands of Polynesia, decorate them with leaves and bamboo and fill with rum, bitters and aromatic complementary flavours and textures. These cocktails are striking, complex, great-tasting and very popular.
Rum is a humble spirit; a team player. Rum is just as happy as the centre of a complex cocktail as it is being paired with a simple squeeze of fresh lime over ice. Try this with a 7-year Havana Club dark rum, also referred to as Anejo.
At SpiritHouse, we do twists on two of the most popular rum cocktails—the Daiquiri and the Mai Tai. These are classic rum cocktails, but don’t be afraid to change them up with seasonal elements. For example, we use a macadamia nut orgeat in our Mai Tai instead of the traditional almond syrup. The syrup is a textural sweetener. We serve our seasonal Mai Tai wrapped in a banana leaf with a flaming sugar cube. We infuse the dark rum with banana, and this cocktail is like a vacation in the islands in the middle of February.
BE BOLD AND ORIGINAL WITH YOUR MENU
Our Harvest Daiquiri is made with Havana Club 7-year-old, apple foam and fresh grapefruit, with an apple chip on top. Canadian winter is all about spice, warmth and the fruits of the harvest.
Why do your patrons keep coming back? Loyalty, curiosity, because they like your offerings and your atmosphere. They want to try more of your menu. What if they want to try all the cocktails in one seating? At SpiritHouse we have created our house cocktail flight—sipping-sized samplers of our four house cocktails: Netflix and Chill, Macadamia Mai Tai, Cucumber Basil Smash and our Harvest Daiquiri. Guests have responded with great enthusiasm. Be confident in your offerings and unleash your creativity with your menu. The divide between kitchen and bar shrinks every year. There is so much more of the culinary and visual behind today’s bar. Packaging is presentation. Your visual presentation is your package. There has to be synergy between the chefs and the kitchen.
The health-conscious cocktail
Kombucha, activated charcoal—these ingredients and recipes have been around in ice cream and juices, so it’s a natural progression to see a demand for health-conscious cocktails. Watch for vegetable-based drinks, and bold, flavourful ingredients like carrot juice.
House-made vermouths and bitters have also come into fashion. Vermouths are made the same way as bitters. Bitters are non-potable as is; vermouth is a type of bitter that is potable. We’re seeing bars in North America making their own vermouth. There isn’t a big selection yet in Canada, so there is a lot of room for experimenting.
Bartenders everywhere know that it’s hard to find three dozen of the same vintage glassware. They might find two or three here and there scouring through the flea market. At high volume bars, bartenders or mixologists want the style of glass to be uniform. Libbey produces glass tableware in five countries and sells their products in over 100 countries. The company has seized the opportunity to innovate with its new 1924 Libbey Vintage stemware range, which fuses jazz-age flair with exciting new cocktail trends.