It’s Wednesday, July 20th, the first full day of Tales of the Cocktail 2016. The line outside of the Orleans room at the Hotel Monteleone had started queuing at least thirty minutes earlier, for a highly anticipated event that was scheduled to start soon: The official public unveiling of Plantation’s new O.F.T.D. Overproof rum.
Arriving early, I secure a spot not far from the head of the line. Shortly, Guillaume Lamy, Vice President of Cognac Ferrand and Plantation Rum, pops out of the room where preparations are still underway. We chat briefly and he mentions that just five days earlier, the half-pallet of O.F.T.D. now on-site in New Orleans was sitting in a warehouse on the East Coast, awaiting the U.S. government’s approval for importing–always an uncertain process. Talk about cutting it close!
In brief, the new O.F.T.D. Overproof is a blend of rums from Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados, coming in at 138 proof. The exact recipe was developed with the expertise of a panel of rum community luminaries:
- Jeff Berry – Author and co-owner of Latitude 29 (New Orleans)
- Martin Cate – Author and co-owner of Smuggler’s Cove and Whitechapel (San Francisco)
- Paul McFadyen – Co-owner of Trailer Happiness (London) and brand ambassador for Cognac Ferrand
- Paul McGee – Co-owner of Lost Lake (Chicago)
- Scotty Schuder – Co-owner of Dirty Dick (Paris)
- David Wondrich – Author and cocktail historian
- Alexandre Gabriel – Master blender for Cognac Ferrand and Plantation Rums
The O.F.T.D. is slated to replace Plantation’s longtime crowd favorite, Original Dark Overproof, which is a blend of rums from Trinidad. For even more background on this rum, check out my earlier post, published prior to even this launch event. A press release about the O.F.T.D. had gone out two days earlier, the same day I’d spotted and sampled it at Latitude 29. However, for the other 99.9999 percent of the world, this event is the first opportunity to try the O.F.T.D.
At 3 PM the doors open and guests are welcomed by Alexandre Gabriel himself. Around the room are bar stations, readied to make three types of O.F.T.D.-based Zombies:
- Zombie Killer
- Saturday Morning Zombie
- Traditional Zombie
In the center of room, more bar stations dispense O.F.T.D. for the brave souls who can drink 138 proof rum straight, like yours truly. I spot fellow Seattleite and Plantation brand ambassador Rocky Yeh already slinging Zombies like a champ.
Along the back wall, in the flesh, are most of the rum’s contributors, including Jeff Berry, Martin Cate, Paul McGee, and Scotty Schuder. Behind them are large placards bearing their likeness; the same images as on the O.F.T.D. label.
The room quickly fills up with a throng of people, making it nearly impossible to move around. Sensing an early opportunity, I jump in for a quick photo with Martin and Jeff.
Since Plantation is a first-class brand, today’s Zombies aren’t served in just any old plastic Solo cup. No, for today’s event, Plantation uses custom Tiki mugs bearing the Plantation logo, one of which now resides in my home Tiki mug collection.
Once the room is packed to the gills, Alexandre gives a short speech, starting with the story of a secret meeting of all the contributors one year earlier during Tales at Arnaud’s, just down the street in NOLA. He also explained what O.F.T.D. really means: Officially the label reads “Old Fashioned Traditional Dark.” However, the real origin of the term comes courtesy of David Wondrich, who having tasted a near-final blend, exclaimed “Oh, fuck–that’s delicious.”
Alexandre’s speech completed, we sadly had to depart to rush to another rum-related session, thus depriving us of the chance to try all three Zombies. However, once the O.F.T.D. starts flowing into the country (supposedly around September 2016) I’ll be hunting down an early bottle and putting it to use in my own Zombies and Cobra’s Fangs at home, no doubt exclaiming, “Oh fu…”