Thursday, September 12, 2013

My dear Fairchild Hot Punch/toddy

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

There is a chill in the air.  The kind of chill that makes the leaves curl up and speak a language that just says fall.  Fall is the time of year that quickens my desire for warming drinks.  Sure I can drink a stiff glass of Scotch and have pretty much the same effect, but where is the pleasure in that?

To warm the body, one must drink hot drinks! 

For this my friend you must add a portion of heat to your spirits! 

The year that I discovered hot buttered rum was back in college.  I went to school in Boston, a city long accustomed to hot punch and hot “adult” chocolate and of course the famous hot grogs that may have included more rum than hot liquids.  Being a seafaring town, with icy cold winds that rise up off the harbor, the kind of drinks that just seem to go well with that certain kind of damp cold that just goes right through you are, hot! 

The hot buttered rum is one of those highly personal drinks that taste even better with the right ingredients.  I say the right ingredients because this drink becomes even more memorable as you grow older because you should make every effort to try one with Rhum Agricole.  Rhum Agricole is made from freshly crushed sugar cane juice.  The flavor of the juice is much different than the molasses flavor that most rum is produced from.  Molasses is thicker and more concentrated than the freshly crushed cane juice.  It tastes differently than the lighter, more aromatic cane juice.  Fresh is the key word here, not a syrup that is further heated to become a concentrated molasses.  I must stress that there are different styles of rum and not all styles appeal to all people!  

Depaz Rhum Agricole is from Martinique.  Martinique is known for world class RHUM.  Depaz is one such brand that I just adore in mixed drinks such as the Ti Punch.  The Ti Punch is comprised of just three ingredients.  Rhum Agricole, Lime and cane sugar syrup.  That’s it!  I’ve discovered another way to enjoy Rhum Agricole and that is in a hot punch with a touch of sweet/salty butter on top.  

Of course for this to be called a punch it must have a sour element to it.  In this case I’ve chosen lemon.  Lemons are available almost everywhere and in the case of the forlorn sailors, they would have strong medicinal purposes as well as being a flavoring agent in a cocktail.   Lemons contribute to the vitamins needed to stave off scurvy, a most insidious tropical disease caused by not enough citrus in the diet.  Don’t laugh.  It still exists today. 

The Depaz Rhum Agricole from DrinkUpNY is the perfect balance of Blue sugar cane and the brackish salinity of the surrounding ocean.  The terroir speaks clearly of the volcanic soil and the effort that goes into cutting the cane, then immediately crushing it for the sweet juice.  The distillation must take place very quickly otherwise the fragile juice will begin to rot in the high temperatures.  The end result is a slightly smoky finish that bursts into your mouth with tropical fruits, nuts and a touch of brown butter and citrus in the nose.  I’m a real fan of the Depaz and you should order a bottle right now!  Why should you order on right now?  You should do so because the hot element of this highly individualistic toddy-like punch will take away your memory.  What?  I forget.

My Dear Fairchild Cocktail is named for “Letters” by Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1874 winter in the Adirondack’s.

I want to imagine the good author, holed up in a lodge in the Adirondack’s with nothing more than a roaring fire and a few dozen bottles of Rhum Agricole along with hot tea, freshly squeezed juices, cane sugar syrup and butter at the ready.

My Dear Fairchild

2 oz. Depaz Martinique Rhum Agricole
1 oz. Lemon juice
1 oz. Lime juice  All freshly squeezed
3-4 oz. HOT tea (I use English Breakfast tea)
1 teaspoon room temperature butter
Pinch of sea salt (for balance)
1 tablespoon Cane Sugar Syrup
Pinch of freshly scraped nutmeg

Preheat your mug with boiling hot water.  Pour out when mug is very hot
Add the butter to the mug, it should melt right away
Add the Depaz Rhum Agricole
Add the juices (This makes your drink a punch)
Add the hot tea
Add a pinch of sea salt and the Cane Sugar Syrup
Scrape a bit of nutmeg over the top

It’s warming time!   BZZZZ!

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Article by Warren Bobrow, a nationally published food and spirits columnist who writes for Williams-Sonoma, Foodista and the Beekman Boys.

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