Feb 7, 201310:06 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Rum and Carnival

A sugar cane field with silos.

anmaster, stock.xchng, 2009

Goodbye, San Francisco 49ers. Nice having you here, Baltimore Ravens. We hope you had a good time and we look forward to you coming back.

 

Are they gone yet? Good. Now let the party begin. It was a nice break but the real season can now rightfully step forward, and the word “super” is not a part of it.

 

It’s Carnival Time and this is the celebration we throw for ourselves. Oh sure, visitors are never excluded but this is New Orleans’ bash. This is the thing we do best, and this is the reason we have the reputation as a town that really knows how to throw a party. Thank you, Roger, but we’ll take it from here.

 

There is honestly no better drink to enjoy with the upcoming schedule of parades, balls and parties than rum. Sure, beer is easy and cheap. Champagne and sparkling are easy too but they are not cheap. When you are putting in a hard day at the cup, price can play a role. You can get a lot of enjoyment from a nice rationing of rum. I speak from experience here.

 

Rum is a spirit just made for our climate and history. Rum practically put the islands of the Caribbean on the map, and we have been described, given our penchant for odd, almost indescribable, governance as “the northernmost Caribbean nation.”

 

The climate of the West Indies, particularly Puerto Rico, is perfect for the farming of sugar cane, and the molasses made from the cane is perfect for the fermentation and distillation processes necessary to produce quality rum. This is not to say that those islands are the only place to do this. Actually rum, one of the world’s oldest spirits, if not the oldest, is occurring in Louisiana, even in New Orleans, with the presence of at least three rum distilleries.

 

Rum played a key role in the expansion of the British Empire, with sailors being allowed a ration of rum every day. Lime was added to the rum to minimize or eliminate the occurrence of scurvy on-board. And after a time, water was added to the rum to minimize the effects of the alcohol. Those ships that served the best “grog,” as this concoction of rum, water and lime was known, were able to acquire the best sailors. Evidently it was a choosers market.

 

Admiral Horatio Nelson, the great British naval commander killed at the Battle of Trafalgar near Spain, desired to be buried on English soil. His body was stuffed into a barrel of rum to preserve him during the journey home. After arrival in his beloved Sceptered Isle, the barrel was opened and there Nelson was, pickled, but the rum was gone. Seems the sailors had tapped into the barrel and with straws sucked the preserving spirit. Rum picked up one of its nicknames, Nelson’s Blood, from this experience. Also when someone was going to drink some rum, maybe with a straw, it was said they were “tapping the Admiral.”

 

What we never learned in history class is that one of the earliest businesses on Manhattan was a rum distillery. And the largest, most prosperous industry in Colonial America was the manufacture of rum. This was primarily due to wood craftsmen and the abundance of raw materials used in the manufacture of barrels, not so much on the quality of raw product, which could be correctly described as “rough and raw.” More than 12 million gallons of rum were consumed annually by the colonists.

 

As to our situation with Carnival, there are several rums to consider:

Light Rum – usually medium grade and quite serviceable. Clear without much flavor on their own. Works great in mojitos, daiquiris and punches.

Amber Rum – also called “gold,” these rums receive their color from the aging barrels. Deeper color is indicative of some time spent in barrel which also adds to depth of flavor.

Dark Rum – aged in charred whisky barrels, primarily comes from Jamaica. Wonderful smooth flavors, perfect with tonic and lime, as well as adding class to mai tai’s.

Spiced Rum – flavored with cinnamon and cloves, among other spices, and sometimes colored with caramel to add color depth.

Flavored Rum – coconut, mango, banana flavors added to the rum, which sometimes results in a too-sweet, cloying quality. But popular in Bahama Mama’s and Bay Breeze cocktails.

 

There are also Premium Rums, which are aged for years and are meant to be enjoyed like fine cognac; and there are Dry Rums, which are made from sugar cane juice rather than molasses, and not aged in wood but stainless steel vats.

 

How about some suggestions for quick and easy parade-watching drinks? Yes, I thought you would like that.

 

Bolero

 

2 oz.  Dark Rum

½ oz. Brandy (Cognac)

½ oz  fresh lime juice

½ oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice

½ oz  simple syrup (to taste; the rum, cognac and orange may make the drink sweet enough for you)

 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

 

Casablanca

 

2 ½ oz. Light Rum

½ oz.    Cointreau or triple sec

½ oz     Maraschino liqueur

½ oz     fresh lime juice

 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

 

Creole

 

2 oz.  Light Rum

2 oz.  Beef bouillon

½ oz  fresh lemon juice

2 dashes Tabasco or Crystal sauce (to taste)

Freshly ground salt and pepper (to taste)

 

Combine the ingredients, except for salt and pepper, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into old-fashioned glass, fill with ice cubes. Sprinkle salt and pepper into drink to taste. Remember the bouillon and the hot sauces both have a good bit of salt.

 

Havana Cocktail

 

2 oz. Light Rum

2 oz. Pineapple Juice

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

 

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass

 

(recipes courtesy of James Waller, author of Drinkology: The Art and Science of the Cocktail, 2003, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York)

 

Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! Going to be a great time for one and all. 

 

                                                -30-

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

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In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

 

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.

 

Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

 

Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

 

They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.

 

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

 

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

 

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

 

It’s a good gig. 

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