Researching distilled spirits history is a bit like panning
for gold—lots of work for the occasional grain of gold remaining in your pan.
But there are also jaw-dropping moments when a sizeable nugget suddenly appears.
These “A-ha!” moments motivate you to keep dipping your pan in the riverbed and
Over the past eight months I’ve become fascinated by the
history of the rum arriving in the U.K. during the 1700s to 1900s. This was the
era of London Dock rums and British navy rum. What I’ve uncovered is quite
surprising and little known by the vast majority of today’s rum enthusiasts. In
an upcoming book that Plantation Rum commissioned me to research and write, I
tell many of these stories; it’s in the final production stages and should be
available later this year. Still, with my enthusiasm for the topic quite high,
I keep finding interesting tidbits that make for a more detailed picture. Continue reading “The Curious Tale of a Pineapple Press and the West India Docks”
Day in and day out, one of the most popular post here at Cocktail Wonk is Minimalist Tiki: What you truly need to make the classics at home.
At long last, I’ve finally heeded Mrs. Wonk’s wisdom that this article was a book needed to be written. Without further ado, we’re pleased to announce THE BOOK!
Minimalist Tiki: A Cocktail Wonk Look at
Classic Libations and the Modern Tiki Vanguard
Minimalist Tiki is a hefty, no-compromises book—hardcover and in
full, glorious color, with more than 300 pages of geeking out, photos and
recipes. It weighs over 3 pounds! We hope it will sit proudly alongside the
books that inspired it. Continue reading “Minimalist Tiki – The Book! For Sale Now!”
There’s no shortage of rum listicles lately. Rum is a hot
topic du jour and publications push them out with abandon: “Nine Rums I Found at
My Local Bar” or “Seven Rums Too Expensive for You.”
All too frequently these stories elicit groans from rum
enthusiasts, because the author only dabbles in rum, thus providing well-intentioned
but often misguided recommendations. Equally wince-inducing are lists without a
unifying theme, or those that rely on outdated
and discredited rum categories such as silver, gold, and dark.
Yes, I cast a suspicious eye toward most rum listicles,
preferring a more nuanced approach to rum writing. Yet here I am with a rum
list of my own. What gives? And why is my list any better? Continue reading “The Cocktail Wonk Comprehensive Caribbean Rum Tour: Bottles $45 or Less”
Among Jamaican rum aficionados, two names hold almost
mythical allure: Plummer and Wedderburn. They’re known as old, obsolete Jamaican
rum marques from a glorious time when all Jamaican rums were chock-full of
funky flavors and hogo.
The main reason most aficionados know these names today is thanks
to Smith & Cross, the gateway Jamaican rum for many people. Its dark blue label
proudly declares, “PURE POT STILL – PLUMMER & WEDDERBURN.”
Classic Rum and Velier have issued rums
labeled as VRW – Vale Royale Wedderburn. Undoubtedly, the Wedderburn name is
still out there in common use.
But what exactly do “Plummer” and “Wedderburn” mean? Continue reading “Unraveling Plummer and Wedderburn Rums”
Telling the story of Barbados rum–and of rum itself–is
impossible without referencing Mount Gay. The distillery operations at its
Barbados site are arguably the oldest and longest running in existence.
Spanning nearly four centuries, Mount Gay has something to say about every era
of rum’s existence. Continue reading “Mount Gay – Cornerstone of Caribbean Rum”
In September of 2018, I sat down with Luca Gargano in London
immediately prior to the Rum
Tasting of the Century, celebrating the launch of Hampden Estate’s aged rum.
We had a wide-ranging interview that covered many topics,
resulting in far too much material for a single interview piece. In my Bevvy Ruminations column, I excerpted two portions that cover topics of broad interest to the rum
audience. Be sure to read Part 1 and Part
However, there was plenty of material left over that’s manna
to the more hardcore rum wonks. Topics that are a bit more esoteric and inside
baseball. A lengthy bonus reel, so to speak. I’ve polished it a bit but haven’t added a ton
of explanatory comments to the numerous references Luca makes. In short, this
is raw, very lightly filtered Luca–and he has plenty to say.– Continue reading “The Gargano Files”