By Warren Bobrow
I first tasted the Cruzan Single Barrel Rum out of a clean metal cup on my family's former Little Harbor yacht.
There was a time down in the islands that the government subsidized rum, so it actually cost less than water. Bottled water had to be extracted from seawater and desalination was, and still is, a very expensive method of turning salt water into drinkable water. The early rum distilleries could not run on seawater. They had to be built near sources of fresh water. No fresh water? No rum.
The winter sailing season was always my favorite time of the year for picking up bottles of exotic rum which were not available in the United States. The Cruzan Single Barrel Rum was for several years the object of my desire. I remember the first time that I tried it. We were sailing out to Anegada from Jost Van Dyke. The wind was at our back and the sails were filled deeply with wind power - pushing us along at 15 or so knots. Not bad for a yacht that weighed almost 55 tons. We were listening to John Coltrane on the yacht's stereo system. Anyone who knows this bebop music, it can be rather challenging for the intellect. No one would have expected that the music actually acted as whale calls - an entire pod of gigantic whales suddenly surrounded our nearly 60-foot sailboat.
A particularly large whale swam right over to the sailboat and hugged the port side. With his tail or his back, the whale could have cut us in two with one sweep. But he didn't want to destroy us - he wanted to listen to our music. He rolled over and showed us his belly, as did several of the other whales in the pod. I reached over the port side and rubbed his belly. The music was charming him into a place of comfort and trust. Jazz music being exemplified by men long gone, played to creatures of the ancient sea. It was otherworldly. And in my hand sat this metal cup (because you wouldn't be drinking from glass while sailing) which was filled with a healthy splash (ok, more like 3-4 ounces) of Cruzan Single Barrel Rum and a couple of fresh fruit juices along with some sparkling water.
I love this rum. It reminds me of the soft trade winds that pile up over the ocean between Foxy's and Neptune's Treasure. The whales that run between here and Maine have seen this all but forgotten reach, and now I know they have heard Coltrane. From the bottom of the ocean to the very surface, they came to the call of our wild. Each note said something to them. I'm not sure what. Maybe drinking this magnificent rum, with the soft fruit juices as a mixer brought them up to the surface along with the plaintive music? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that every time I sip Cruzan Single Barrel Rum I remember that day out at sea under sail, surrounded by whales.
Get yourself down to the islands and go sailing if you can. May the wind always be at your back.
What Whales Know Cocktail
• 3 oz. Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
• ¼ oz. Punt e Mes Vermouth
• 2 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
• 2 oz. Grilled blood orange juice (score blood oranges over hard wood charcoal, then cool)
• Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water
• The Bitter Truth Aromatic Bitters
1. Fill a Boston Shaker ¾ with ice.
2. Add the rum, the vermouth and the lime and orange juices.
3. Add four shakes of The Bitter Truth Bitters.
4. Shake twenty seconds.
5. Strain over ice and add a few splashes of the Perrier Sparkling Water over the top.
Cheers from DrinkUpNY!
Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.