Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting ready for the 4th of July takes much preparation. At the time the Declaration of Independence was signed there were about 150 distilleries making Rum from Caribbean Molasses in the New England Colonies. It is a hot and thirsty holiday. So, I’m not thinking about a Vodka tonic; I’m thinking about Rum. Stuff like Mojitos, Pina Coladas or Daiquiris. So, lets celebrate American history my style. After all, Christopher Columbus introduced sugar cane to the Caribbean in 1493 and he had something to do with America right?
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Pirates used to say that before Johnny Depp redefined the definition of pirate in his movies. I know pirates from Robert Lewis Stevenson’s book Treasure Island not from those loud monstrous movies. The source of pirates and the Caribbean spirit can be found on the island of Martinique where the plants grow to make a refined rum. Sugar cane has been harvested in the Caribbean for 4 centuries now.
Some people say without rum the French colony of Martinique doesn’t exist. The Neisson family has been making rum now for three generartions there. It is called Aghicole because it is pressed from fresh sugar cane juice. It wasn’t until the decant era of Louie XIIII that Europe developed a sweet tooth for the distilled rum that fueled sugar production in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the slave trade went into full swing to get workers in the fields to support European demand for the new booze.
They soon found a sticky byproduct of the process called Molasses that was distilled into Rum. It is amazing that people always found the time and money to produce fun things while the people were poor. So, the New England colonies brought Molasses to the American south where great desserts are know and rum drinks prevail. In order for it to be called rum view it has to be three years old. Rum is a distilled spirt made from sugar cane that can also be made from sugar cane juice or any other part of the sugar cane plant.
Most rum is made from molasses. Truck loads daily are brought to the largest rum producer in the world; Bacardi. It’s distillery in San Juan Puerto Rico turns out 100,000 gallons of rum per day. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island. Joe Gomez is Bacardi’s Master Blender who works in the laboratory there. He is in charge of maintaining the yeast that was created from a strain that dates back to 1862 in Cuba when the Bacardi company was founded.
The founder of Bacardi rum is credited for developing a smooth consistant rum; the type Hemmingway popularized in his famous Dacaquiries. There was a good movie made recently with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen about Hemmingway that drank himself through every book in every location. The giant vats at Bacardi hold 50,000 gallons of molasses where the yeast does its job fermenting the stuff.
Once the mixture forments for about a day, it is refined heated and separated in giant stills. Why is it that people go through all kinds of effort to make good booze? Yes, throughout history face it, we all need to get our tipsy on to relax at the end of the day. The movie the Hangover would be popular in any era and the Fourth of July is a celebration Day. Finally the rum is aged for at least a year in white oak barrels just like the pirates did years ago. Bacardi’s finest blend sells for $2,000 dollars a bottle.
Making rum is certainly an art that bartenders have also mastered in crafting unique cocktails that look great with all kinds of stuff to decorate the glass from flowers to umbrellas to really put you in the partying mood. Face it, rum lets us taste paradise and we all need a little paradise. Yes America is our paradise so be thankfull this week for all those people that continue to die for this country so we can sip a rum drink in our little paradise back yard.

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