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Daiquiris (Panamanian Rum)
Although not as well known for its rum as the Caribbean islands, Central American rums from places such as Panama, Costa Rica and Peru are distilled with the same, if not far higher standards of quality and tradition than their more esteemed counterparts. Ron Abuelo represents the pinnacle of Central American rum production, having been in distilled since, and having strong ties to the formation of the Republic of Panama in 1908. From field to still to bottle, this rum has been produced for 3 generations by the Varela Family of the Azuero Peninsula. The unique climate of this region not only produces abundant and flavourful sugar cane, but also provides special aging conditions which give this rum a distinctive flavour profile. This complex and nuanced spirit features notes of brown sugar, toasted coconut, cinnamon, clove, caramel, dried apple, and vanilla with accents of sandalwood, providing a fantastic base to the delicious cocktails and wonderful ingredients included in this month’s box.
The complex nature of modern cocktail recipes often pushes our perception of what cocktails even are, with many brilliant bartenders incorporating weird and wonderful ingredients into cocktails in unexpected ways. Their complexity can often make classic cocktails seem minimalistic and uninspired by comparison, which is simply not the case.
While keeping context in mind is one thing, (there were no cocktails before the classics, so they represent the birth of modern cocktail culture), being appreciative of beauty in simplicity is key to truly recognizing the brilliance of classic cocktails. The daiquiri is a true classic; simple, yet perfectly balanced and delicious, this drink holds a special place in the hearts of many a long-time bartender.
Before it became the inferior version that many today know from to the blenders of chain restaurants, the daiquiri was a simple cocktail with simple beginnings. As with the history of most cocktails, there are a few versions of events concerning the creation of the daiquiri, although one in particular seems to be widely accepted as history.
The general story follows that it was created by Jennings Cox, an American who worked the iron mines around the city of Daiquiri in Cuba in the early 1900’s. A veteran of the American-Spanish war, he advocated for a rum ration for himself and his fellow miners, as he would have been accustomed to from his days in the service. In an attempt to make the (then) sub-par rum more palatable, he mixed it with fresh lime and raw sugar, shook it with ice, and served it in a glass over shaved ice.
The drink was an instant hit with his friends and colleagues and he quickly started serving it to visiting American acquaintances, who in turn brought it to Havana on their way back stateside. The cocktail began appearing on menus in iconic Cuban establishments like La Floridita, cementing its legacy on the island. Its popularity inevitably brought the daiquiri to menus in US cities like New York in the 1910s and 20s, putting it at the forefront of cocktail bartending at the time.
Now, the daiquiri is known the world over and is universally recognized as one of the pillars of modern cocktail bartending and a requirement in the arsenal of any good bartender. In fact, our master bartender has poured many a ‘snack-quiri’ behind the bar, a cheeky mini-daquiri shot done pre or post-shift (or sometime during, ssssh) with co-workers.
The original recipe truly exhibits the concept of simplistic beauty and is one worth honouring, which is why we’ve included a bonus original recipe daiquiri on this card. Three ingredients are all you need, but the resulting drink, if made with attention and care, will have you pleasantly surprised and wanting more. The lime and sugar uplift the complex flavour profile of a quality rum, adding a bite of sour and a touch of sweet, but never overwhelming the star of the drink, the spirit itself. The simplicity of the drink also makes it a prime candidate to add flavours to and build a more complex palette, which is the concept behind this month’s box TO BE OR DAIQUIRI.
First and foremost, however, all daiquiris start with a high quality rum and for this box we focused on a lesser known rum producing region, Central America, and in particular Ron Abuelo Anjeo from Panama. For several generations, the Varela family has distilled this exceptional rum using their unique and closely guarded recipe set down in the early 20th century.
While produced in a similar style to Caribbean rums, there are several key factors which make Central American rums, and this rum in particular, a unique spirit. Ron Abuelo is produced in the Azuero Peninsula of Panama, an exceptionally fertile area for sugarcane production, resulting in some of the best sugarcane in the world.
Beyond ideal growing conditions, the Azuero Peninsula also provides a unique climate for aging the spirit, which takes place in American white oak barrels, resulting in a complex and incredibly smooth rum with a balanced profile of brown sugar, toasted coconut, cinnamon, clove, caramel, dried apple, and vanilla with accents of sandalwood and mint. This exceptional rum is the perfect compliment to all the incredible ingredients you’ll find in this month’s box TO BE OR DAIQUIRI.
Like a jaguar that prowls the jungle, stalking unsuspecting prey, this drink is deep, dark and dangerous, and every element is meant to ensnare your tastebuds and not let go. With roots firmly in tiki style cocktails, the Femme Fatale has an intoxicating, velvety profile provided by falernum, a classic tiki syrup bursting with spicy notes of clove, ginger, lime and almond. A strong foundation of flavourful and spicy Panamanian rum is highlighted by an enthralling essence of absinthe mist, adding a mysterious complexity, while a playful layer of zesty lime keeps things lively and frisky. This drink is seductive and mesmerizing, we doubt you have the resolve to resist its charms, so give in, if only for a little while.
The Panama Libre
A Cuba Libre? A completely useless excuse for a cocktail, this drink is just a rum and Coke (if you want to get specific, a Cuban rum and Coke with a lime, but, come on…). However, there is always potential to take things to the next level, you just need the right ingredients and a little Crafty’s magic. All the elements of a Cuba Libre are here, just done with a little more finesse; the unique flavours of aged Panamanian rum adds depth. The Ms. Better Kola bitters brings the unmistakable and irreplaceable ‘cola’ element without adding an overbearing level of sweetness or effervescence. The sweet citrus profile of lemon combines with raw sugar to give a light, saccharine background, with dried sage introducing wonderful herbal tones that tie everything together. So, order a Cuba Libre if you want to, but after trying this cocktail, you might feel a slight tinge of embarrassment.
The Balmy Toddy
Cocktails have the ability to transport you to many different places; they can take you somewhere filled with blue water, white sand and green foliage. Just as easily, they can take you to a comfy leather chair in a log cabin with a crackling fire in the background and wet snow spattering against the windows. Or some drinks can do both, it all depends on the ingredients and the relationship you’ve built with them over your life. Consider all these fantastic components; zesty aged Panama rum, warm, spicy P.S. Modern Cuisine Hot Toddy syrup, red sour punch cherries with a touch of tropical flair, and a splash of malty orange juice. Where do these flavours transport you? There are no wrong answers here, so sit back, relax and let your taste buds take you on a mini vacation.
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