Author Matt Pietrek succinctly broke down the basics of tiki during his seminar on the British Navy’s influence on the cultural movement. It may sound simple, but like a well-crafted Mai Tai, it’s also surprisingly complex. This is the starting point of a historical roadmap linking cocktails and global traditions bonded by the glorious spirit: rum.
This bond is the driving force of the annual California Rum Festival held in San Francisco’s SOMArts Cultural Center.
Coming to the festival means something different for everyone. Some use it as a chance to reunite with colleagues and make new friends. Others may take the opportunity to discover new rums and develop a new appreciation for established distillers. For me, it’s a bit of each with -- a drive to explore a subject close to my heart (or liver).
Here are a few of my favorite discoveries from this year!
Favorite New Rum - Hampden Estate Single Jamaican Rum
I tried this delicious spirit during the Intro to Jamaican Rum seminar. Its full-bodied, sweet and spicy funk perfectly blew my expectation of what a relatively newly released Jamaican rum could bring to the bar. The seminar was also a great way to delve into the history and style of the island’s spirit. The strong flavors and scents are the perfect base to many rum cocktails that helps elevate the drink’s experience.
Favorite New Cocktail – Licor 43 Carajillo 43 with cold brew coffee
Typically this popular Mexican cocktail is served with Licor 43 and espresso, but it turns out it’s just as good with equal parts cold brew!
Rum Adjacent - Maggie’s Farm Flarenum
While John D. Taylor’s Velvet Flarenum will always be a staple in tiki bars near and far, there is a clear contender coming out of Pittsburgh. A great mix of spices and their signature white rum create a delicious mixer that I can’t wait to add to my own home cocktails.