I dropped by Heist Brewery on Friday afternoon to talk rum with bar manager Stefan Huebner and Ryan Vaughan of Cruzan rum. Vaughan, of course, is visiting cities that are good rum markets to talk about Cruzan, and a good rum market includes Charlotte.
Since I wrote "Bourbon: A Savor the South Cookbook," I've gotten very familiar with the distilled-spirits world. And I have been wondering what will replace bourbon as the liquor with the passionate following. After all, the bourbon craze is in such swing now that there are shortages and crazy prices. I was at Stateline Elite on Saturday and there were gaps all over the bourbon shelves. Demand has caused shortages, since great bourbon takes at least four years -- and more like 8 or 12 years -- to age. The industry can't just turn on a spigot and create more bourbon to meet demand.
Vaughan made the case that the next big thing will be rum: Cruzan, made by a family-owned distillery on St. Croix, has come out with a new set of aged rums, including a single-barrel (really a blend of chosen barrels) that's currently available in Charlotte in the $30 range, and two Estate Diamond rums that will be available by January. The single-barrel is designed to bridge the gap for bourbon fans, with a woodsy flavor that's very similar to bourbon with a little more sweetness. The Estate Diamond rums, which will be about $20, have strong tastes of vanilla, butter and caramel that reminded me of rum cake.
Besides the sipping rums, the Cruzan tour includes a custom cocktail for each city. Stefan Huebner got the job of coming up with a Charlotte-themed cocktail using Cruzan. He wanted something blue, for Carolina blue, so he included blue curacao, and he wanted a good patio drink with that tiki-party feel, so he went frothy and tropical.
Huebner admits he's a whiskey guy, but he sees a change coming, too. "The dark rums are definitely coming on," he said. "(Bourbon fans) have become well-educated, so now they're expanding."
The Carolina Trolley
1 1/2 parts aged light rum
1/2 part blue curacao
2 parts fresh sour mix
1 part fresh pineapple juice
1 part ginger beer
Garnish: Orange peel, cherry, grilled pineapple
Place all the ingredients except the ginger beer in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into a collins glass over ice. Top with ginger beer and add garnishes.
YIELD: 1 serving.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Posted by Kathleen Purvis at 1:26 PM