Rum Tasting: Bajan 1966

I was very fortune last week to obtain a bottle of Bajan 1966 Barbados Rum. Currently Bajan is only available for purchase in Barbados so I was lucky to gain access to a bottle.

There is no secret that Barbados is one of the largest rum producing islands and of great importance in the history of rum, however in learning more about Bajan Rum, I also learned some Barbadian History.  From the Bajan site:

Our regal, barrel-aged rum was named in honor of Barbados’ Independence which was granted on November 30th, 1966 after 300 plus years as a British colony. Dominated by a lucrative sugar industry, once run on the blood, sweat and tears of African slaves, this historic date marked more than our emancipation — it sparked cultural and economic change.

Rum is still the essence of Barbados, the DNA of the nation. Old-timers even call it, “the nectar of life,” there through heartbreak, romance and exultation. Day and night, on palm-fringed streets, families, friends and strangers-just-met are seduced by its dark and delicious taste. You could say that rum is the oil in our engines, the beat behind our rhythm, the spirit of Barbados.

Half a century may have passed since our Independence, but our country celebrates in serious style when November rolls around. We revel in 50 plus years of emancipation, hosting parades, socials and festivals.

BAJAN 1966 is the people’s rum, a drink for any occasion. Relax, unwind and sip that tipple. Be inspired by the spirit of freedom.

I also learned that the word “Bajan” is another term used to refer to people from Barbados and is pronounced BAY-jun.  It is actually thought to be a shortened version of Barbadian and is used by locals quite often.

Bajan 1966 is a mix of both pot still and column rums and then aged in American oak bourbon barrels. (I was, however, disappointed to not find any age statement.)

The bottle is clear, very crisp looking and the rum color has a red hue to it.  It is beautiful for sure though the gold lettering on the bottle makes it a little hard to photograph with my simple iPhone. (From their website it looks like the bottle actually is sold in a beautiful blue and gold cylinder however mine didn’t have that upon arrival.)

I invited my good friend Steve over for a sampling.

First we started with some neat and sipped it… as Bajan claims you should.  The smell is AMAZING! They do not add any sugars or perfumes (as I would prefer) and the nose is really clean and fresh. You really get a nice aroma of vanilla along with a hint of caramel.

The taste is very clean as well. The vanilla hits you first as it merges into a finish of oak and tropical fruits.  There is a slight harshness for only a half of moment on the palette but I find that comforting because it reminds me that I’m drinking rum. While we didn’t try some on the rocks, I can see how this would be the way I would sample it next time around.

Next I mixed it up in a classic Mai Tai.  I usually mix my Mai Tais with a strong Jamaican rum (per Trader Vic’s original) however the Bajan 1966 stood up fair well.  Steve really enjoyed the Mai Tai and was pleased on how Bajan was complimented by the lime and orgeat.  I will say that the curaçao was a bit overpowering against the rum for me and maybe I’d pull it back some in the future.

I think the Bajan will also shine nicely in something simple like a Barbados Rum Punch or a Rum Old Fashioned (so that’ll be on tap for the future).

I haven’t really established a “Rum Grading Scale” yet but I would give this a 4 out of 5 tikis.  You won’t find it in the U.S. but if you’re visiting Barbados then it might be a nice addition to pick up.

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Fresh Lime – A Must!

Before I started down my Tiki journey, I would have said, like many others, “I’ll just use the bottled juice, it is so much easier… can it really matter that much?”

The truth… I matters more than typed words can describe!

Once I moved to real juice, especially lime, my drinks became more fresh and more delishious! (I made the move due to a passage in my Tiki Bible from Smuggler’s Cove.) The real issue with fresh juice is “time”… being a full time working father of two boys leaves little time to squeeze limes every night. There are so many times that I’ll get home from work, crave a delicious exotic cocktail but not want to take the time to squeeze the limes (but I also won’t shortcut and use pre-bottled lime juice).

Enter an idea that I actually am claiming as original-ish… freezing fresh lime juice in pre-measured amounts in ice cube trays.

I won’t pretend I’m the first person ever to think of this but I also didn’t read about it somewhere else… therefor “original-ish”.

What I’ll do is buy and squeeze 5-6 limes at one time, pour in this awesome ice cube tray and then just use the number of cubes I need when time. (The size of one cube, purposefully, is 3/4 of an ounce… the exact amount I use in my Mai Tai.)

I’ve also found that for some drinks, shaking the drink with only the lime ice cube will chill it enough without watering it down (lime ice cubes melt faster than H2O so a standard amount of shaking is almost perfect).

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The ice cube tray is perfect and the cubes slide out so easily.  You can either just leave in the tray, since it has a cover, or remove and put in a plastic bag or food storage container.

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Either way, the time savings is great and the drinks still taste to Tiki-Perfection!  So give it a try!

Our House Cocktail: The Coco Nut

As my (fake) tiki bar started to come together I figured that all great, well visited bars need a House Cocktail… something that people feel like they MUST have in order to get the full experience. If you go to Trader Vic’s, you know that you have to order a Mai Tai… when you visit Don’s, and now Latitude 29, you cannot leave without tasting a Zombie… you need to bring a few friends to the Mai Kai to make sure you can order the Mystery Drink… and you should make it a goal to give Smuggler’s Cove’s secret recipe Rum Barrel a try.

So, a few months back I set out to make such a drink.  I started much the same way that the Rum Runner was invented down at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Florida, by focusing on what rum I had a plethora of.  However, different from the Rum Runner (which was trying to move inventory out), I wanted to make sure I was using rums that I would always have on hand.  The first rum was pretty obvious to me… a Coconut Rum… this was obvious for a few different reasons:

1) I love coconut
2) my last name is Cocorullo so anything with a “coco” wins in my book and
3) I could use the “coco” as part of the drink’s name.

I use Cruzan Coconut Rum… I enjoy that it is made in the U.S. Virgin Islands and can usually pick up a few bottles for cheap when visiting St. Thomas.

I wanted at least one more rum and my 1.75L bottle of Kraken Black Rum was staring me right in the face. (I love it for my Dark and Stormys.) I figured the Black would be a nice contrast to the clear Coconut.

Now that I decided on the rum, it was time to take my first real stab at “mixology”. I decided to use Vic’s Mai Tai recipe as my road map and see where that would take me.

I took the lime juice and replaced it with pineapple juice (seemed like a good start). Then I looked at the demerara simple syrup and decided not to change out anything there.  Next on the list was the orange curacao, which I didn’t have in stock at the time.  I did, however, have Grand Marnier. I figured bringing it up a notch couldn’t hurt.

Now I had my rums, I had my sweet, I had my sour(ish) and had a slightly different orange flavor… which left the orgeat (almond).  I didn’t want to just use orgeat… then it really just would be a coconut/pineapple mai tai and that was not what I was going for.  After pulling out every bottle under the bar, I looked up at one of my decorative shelves and there, like a shining beacon of tiki-ness, was my beautiful bottle of Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur.  (My wife and I discovered the Macadamia Nut liqueur about a year ago where we bought it for our tiki/Christmas/housewarming party and it has been a staple since.)  I thought, “orgeat is made from almonds… almonds are nuts… macadamias are nuts… how can this not work?”

The addition of the Trader Vic’s Mac Nut made it all come together as a nice little package and led to the simple but ideal name for the House Drink of Trader Jay’s.  It is not an extremely original name but it fits perfectly… The Coco Nut

I tweaked the amounts a little during the first few mixes (the Kraken was overpowering at first, and not allowing the coconut and macadamia nut to shine through). But after about three tries I nailed it!

The finished product… using the perfect tiki mug for it from Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29

So come on by, check out our menu (yes, I have ONE copy) and read through the options… but then order a Coco Nut because, of course, you will feel like you have to!

RECIPE:
-3/4 oz pineapple juice
-1/4 oz Mai Tai Simple Syrup
-1/4 oz Trader Vic’s Macadamia Nut Liqueur
-1/2 oz orange curacao (or other preferred orange liqueur)
-1 oz coconut rum
-1/2 oz Kraken Black Rum

Shake it all together and serve over ice (preferably in a coconut shaped tiki mug).

(Give it a try and then reach out and let me know your thoughts.)

A Mermaid Kiss

We here at Trader Jay’s Tiki Blog are THRILLED to bring on our first Rum Sponsor… Florida Mermaid Rum.

Florida Mermaid Rum is made by NJoy Spirits, LLC out of Weeki Wachee, FL. It is a “Gold” 3 year old Florida Sugar Cane sipping rum blended with a Caribbean pot still rum then aged in their Wild Buck Whiskey barrels for 90 days.

Natalie and Kevin were very generous to provide the Trader with a sample of their local rum for tasting and mixing.


The rum recently won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition so, naturally, I was excited to try it.

I poured about a half an ounce out to just sip on. First, the aroma is very flavorful, it has a nice oak barrel smell. In the initial taste you can feel the natural rum taste, slightly strong, but then the sweetness peaks through and you can sense the Florida sugar cane (important to me as a Florida native). Finally, the finish ties it up in a bow as the smooth oak from the whisky barrels stays with you as the taste fades. Overall, a really nice, hardy 3 year pot still rum.

    
After a few sips I wanted to try a simple drink. Kindly, NJoy provided a few recipes to try. I decided to keep it simple with a Mermaid Old Fashioned. I took 2 ounce of Florida Mermaid Rum and mixed with the suggested 1 ounce of simple syrup (I used my homemade Mai Tai simple syrup). I then added 2 dashes of aromatic bitters, shook lightly and poured over a big single ice cube (I like to use these tiki ones). Once again, the oak was the star as it was the highlight of every sip. The 2:1 was a little sweet for my pallet, probably would pull back on the simple syrup and add an citrus peel (as suggested) but still a good after dinner sipping cocktail.

Now that I have tasted the flavor subtleties, I have a few Trader Originals in mind. Hope to experiment right after Turkey Day and share my findings. In the meantime, please give Florida Mermaid Rum a try. It is available in Florida and Georgia (full list) or you can order online here.

A special Mahalo to Natalie and Kevin for “sponsoring” my Tiki Blog.

Behind the Bar: The Black Pearl

A few months ago I came across a video for a drink called The Black Pearl that is made at The Cove Bar at Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim. I’d never had one but with the Pirates of the Caribbean movie reference I knew I had to give it a try.

It is fairly straight forward… half an ounce of gin, vodka and rum then add sour mix and “black berry liqueur”. Two things that made gave this a little trial and error… 1) I don’t really keep Chambord in stock and 2) they didn’t provide measurements for the chambour and sour mix. So I tucked the recipe away for some point in the future.

Last Saturday rolls around and some friends are at Trader Jay’s for the Florida Gator football game. I’m telling my buddy, Golden, about the Black Pearl and he offers to run back to his house to get… wait for it… his bottle of Chambord! And the mixing was on!

I decided that the Chambord was the key ingredient so I made it an equal pour to the other liquors (1/2 oz). Then I thought the sour mix should be enough to fill a rocks glass (1 oz combined with 2 oz of booze). To stretch it, you could add more sour (in the video it seems like at least 3 ounces), but where is the fun in that? Vodka and gin are pretty straight forward but the final decision was “type of rum”. Once again the video showed a white rum (probably Bacardi). There was some debate in the bar but The Trader ultimately decided that the BLACK Pearl should have Kraken Black Rum! (*See variation with Bacardi below)

The taste testing (and over a bottle of Chambord) confirmed that the mix was true! (Shout out to Justin for taking us to liquor store halfway through taste testing!)

Here is the full recipe that Trader Jay’s will be serving:

  • 1/2 oz Kraken Black Rum
  • 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • 1/2 oz Grey Goose Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz sour mix

Pour all ingredients into shaker, shake and strain into rocks glass with ice.

All who partook in the taste testing agreed it was a flavorful, fresh drink but can really pack a punch. So give it a mix and a pour and let me know what you think in the comments.

Cheers and Aloha!

*Golden claims that he’s had a similar drink called a Grateful Dead with Bacardi replacing the Kraken. After some research, the Grateful Dead also include Tequila. The Trader will use Bacardi upon request via the Secret Menu. We will call that “The Black Pearl’s Dinghy”.

Hurricanes in a Hurricane

As a Florida native, I’m no stranger to Hurricanes. While we take them very seriously, we also know that “Hurricane Supplies” should include alcohol… especially at Trader Jay’s.

Right on the heals of my trip to New Orleans, the perfect drink to feature, obviously, is the Hurricane.

Created and made famous by Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon Street, it is known for being a strong drink, traditionally featuring at least 4 oz of rum.

My Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans in September 2016

The recipe on the Pat O’Brien site really is just “4 oz of rum and 4 oz of  Pat O’s hurricane mix”… this is all well and good if you buy their mix but not if you don’t want to cheat.

Another issue is that Hurricanes are a hard drink to tinker with because of the high alcohol amounts (had to keep some wits about me in case things went south with Hurricane Matthew).

After some interweb research, I came up with my owen recipes. They both have the same ingredients, just with different levels of alcohol (let’s go with “Cat 1” vs “Cat 4”; We will reserve Cat 5 for one using Overproof Rum).

For non-alcoholic ingredients I used orange juice, simple syrup, sour mix and cherry/pomegranate grenadine. For rum I went with Bacardi white rum and Kraken black rum. Finally, a popular ingredient to use is passion fruit juice or purée, however I decided to up the game by using Passoà passion fruit liqueur… that’s right, even more booze!

Trader Jay’s Category 4 Hurricane

  • 3 oz Bacardi White Rum
  • 2 oz Kraken Black Rum
  • 1.5 oz Passoà Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 1.5 oz sour mix
  • 1.5 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz cherry/pomegranate grenadine
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup

Pour all ingredients into Hurricane glass filled with ice, give a stir and enjoy!

If you’re looking to bring it down a notch…

Trader Jay’s Category 1 Hurricane

  • 2 oz Bacardi White Rum
  • 1 oz Kraken Black Rum
  • 1 oz Passoà Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 1 oz sour mix
  • 1.5 oz orange juice
  • 3/4 oz cherry/pomegranate grenadine
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup

Should fit in Collins glass with ice.

Enjoy, Cheers & Aloha! 🍹🌺🗿

Behind the Bar: Mai Tai Roa Ae!

In my first post about mixing my own exotic cocktails I figure there is no better place to start than with the most famous tiki drink ever… The Mai Tai!

There are verying stories about the creation of the Mai Tai but the most widely accepted one is from the Original Trader, Trader Vic…

“I was at the service bar in my Oakland restaurant. I took down a bottle of 17-year old Jamacian J. Wray Nephew rum, added fresh lime, some Orange Curaçao from Holland, a dash of Rock Candy syrup and a dollop of French Orgeat, for its subtle flavor. A generous amount of shaved ice and a vigorous shaking by hand produced the marriage I was after. Half a lime shell went in for color, I stuck in a branch of fresh mint and gave two of them to Ham and Carrie Guild, friends from Taihiti, who were there that night. Carrie took a sip and said, ‘Mai Tai – Roa Ae’. In Tahitian this means ‘Out of this World – The Best’. Well that was that. I named the drink ‘Mai Tai’.”

Unfortunately the popularity of the Mai Tai created a run on the 17-year Wray and it is no longer in existence. Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove believes that to create a taste similar to Vic’s original you should use a “blended, aged” rum (meaning of blend of the pot and column distilling methods and aged between 4 and 14 years). I experimented with a few different rums but found my favorite to be Appleton Estate Reserve Blend from Jamacia.

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Tiki Drummer guarding the Appleton Estate Reserve Rum closely!

Prior to this journey I’m not sure I would have said this but Fresh Fruit Juice makes a HUGE difference! So I now only use fresh squeezed lime in my Mai Tai. I also make my own Simple Syrup to keep as many ingredients homemade as possible. (I have not tackled my own Orgeat yet, but maybe in the future.)

My Homemade Mai Tai simple syrup (demerara suger, water and a dash of vanilla extract) and Fresh Lime.

Below is my adaption of Vic’s Original Mai Tai using guidance from Smuggler’s Cove… Give it a go and let me know what you think or put your own adaptation in the comments.

  • 3/4 oz FRESH lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Mai Tai simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz orgeat
  • 1/2 oz Orange Curaçao
  • 2 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Rum

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice, pour over crushed ice and garnish with mint and/or lime.

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Finished product in the HippopotoMai-Tai tiki mug from Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Looks like Mai Tai Roe Ae to me! (Tastes like it too!)

Mahalo, Trader Vic

E Komo Mai

Welcome to my Tiki Blog!

A little over a year ago I embarked on my Tiki Journey.  It was really two events that got me started and one additional event that really lit a Pele’s fire under me…

The first two happened very close to each other… one being the opening of and my first visit to Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and the other was the purchase of a new house.

I’ll write an entire post on Trader Sam’s soon, but our new home had a bonus room that needed a theme and Sam provided the inspiration.

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Trader Jay’s post-renovation, obviously during moving time. My boys already bringing the relaxing vibe in.

With a blank slate sometimes it is hard to know where to start, but a bamboo bar as a housewarming present from my parents is never a bad place!

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The first piece of Trader Jay’s… showcasing some early tiki mugs and rums.

With the bar in place, the tiki theme was solidified!  And the Tiki Journey started.

As anyone knows, building tiki is never a fast process and in future posts I will definitely highlight the decor that has been added as Trader Jay’s grows and evolves, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco.

A visit to Smuggler’s Cove earlier this year opened my eyes even wider to the world of tiki, especially as it comes to creating exotic drinks and mixology.  Entering into the bar is an amazing experience and reading through the menu can be overwhelming but it is a MUST for any tiki enthusiast. The atmosphere is spot on and the drinks are AMAZING.

The experience immediately prompted me to purchase the new Smuggler’s Cove book. Martin Cate’s philosophy on tiki is spot on, in my opinion, and the book has become my “Tiki Bible”.

So, that’s where I’ll stop for my first post. In the coming weeks I hope to showcase the bar build and evolution, share my thoughts about the amazing tiki bars I’ve had the opportunity to experience and highlight my exotic drink mixology.  Until then, a hui hou (until we meet again).

Mahalo