Monday, February 2, 2015

The Milliner’s Punch Cocktail

By Warren Bobrow, Cocktail Whisperer

My first trip to Spain was at the tender age of 7.  My grandfather had business interests in this country and my father, who headed the tax division of the family business needed to visit often.  As was my upbringing, European travel was 90% cultural/10% actual work.  It was an extended vacation- these European trips for a month or more an education that you cannot read in books.  My parents always had wine on the table while I was growing up so it made perfectly good sense to visit the Bodegas where they turned indigenous grapes into the authentic wine we all know as Sherry.  My first tangible memories of wine surround the Sandeman Bodega where they make extremely expressive liquids.  The salty aromas stung my young palate and their verdant flavors buried themselves deeply inside my time-hazed tasting notes.  The crisp aromatics of salt spray and the haunting quality of old wood reared their potent memories against my long lost childhood. 

I have to fully disclose that I have another bottle of rum, the intriguing side-project from the venerable whisky creator Murray McDavid.  This historic, column distilled rum from Guyana is first aged in used Tennessee whiskey casks, then rested for a time after a sea voyage from the islands to Scotland in used wine casks- and then finally rested in either a whisky cask or another used wine cask- surrounded by still more casks containing whisky.  What comes out in the end is remarkable and it reminds me of this gorgeous bottle in my hand. 

I have a passion for rum that began on a sailing trip back in 1982 in the British Virgin Islands.  The rum quality was in always in question, but the fact that water was four dollars a liter and rum was a buck or so per liter, well the point being- drinking tap water was poisonous so you drank rum.  Rum came in many styles- refreshing was the best way, to quench your thirst before, during and after a rousing sail. 

Fast forward to today.  My palate requires something much more than clear rum from an uncertain provenance served on ice with cola as I did when younger. I like the very best and in this business I’ve made it my point to only review and discuss what I consider to be the very best for their genre.  Always, it is in my opinion and never scored either numerical or letter or stars.  It’s my tasting notes, not someone else’s marketing that influences me.  If I like something great, if not- well you know that answer.  I’d rather say something constructive because there is so much good stuff on the market and only so much time to write about them!

Imagine my delight when my friend Nicholas Palazzi sent me a sample bottle of his opulent rum named simply Ron Navazos –Palazzi.   This marvelous bottling is truly revolutionary.  The creativity to build flavor upon flavor is what initially caught my eye.  And the use of Antilles distilled rum to fill used Spanish Sherry/Oloroso casks?  I was determined to try a mouthful and find out what an incredible experience it really is.  Because of my historic connection with the Oloroso style Sherry: mouthfuls of salted, crushed stones, the Spanish leather, the minced Connecticut leaf tobacco… I knew immediately this was something rare and special.  I also knew that 90% of Americans would not get it.  This rum is at the very least, a challenging slurp.  Perhaps the strength of the sip is the first determinate.  Rolling in at 51.5% this is not your production line, million cases per month operation.  Bottled at cask strength, this rum rested in at the distillery for a period of five years before being shipped off to Scotland with the cold and damp that runs right through you.  If you cannot feel the dampness of the cellar, go outside in wet clothes on a frigid night.  There are dried figs in each sip, layer upon layer of raw honey and the acidity runs rampant across the top of my mouth.  Cigar tobacco comes into view revealing layers of sweet corn pudding drizzled with cane sugar syrup.  Toasty hazelnuts and walnuts become clearer along with bursts of sea salt and caramelized brown butter with a touch of extra old balsamic vinegar to finish. 

The Ron Navazos is sophisticated and it calls out for a large snifter, preferably enjoyed from the deck of your handcrafted- Little Harbor yacht, moored languidly in a mosquito free cove somewhere in the British Virgin Islands. 

This is rum of the very highest quality and it certainly deserves your muster.  I know it’s not your everyday rum and cola slurp and many will be turned away from it because it is so esoteric.
This is one of the finest rums from my memory.  Is it the Oloroso Sherry cask?  Is it the rum?  Is it the salty humidity?  Or is it a combination of them all?

I’m not sure, but one thing is for certain- this is assertive, bold and not for everyone. 
May this be all the more reason to acquire a bottle, because you desire the very, very best.   

Yes you can mix it.  Just keep it simple.  Like this.

I filled an atomizer with Bitter Truth Orange Bitters and one with the Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters. 

I also made large ice cubes from coconut water.

The Milliner’s Punch
3 oz. Ron Navazos Rum
1 large Coconut Water ice cube
Splash of freshly squeezed blood orange juice
Bitter Truth Orange Bitters
Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

To a large “Old Fashioned” glass add the coconut water ice cube
Pour the Rum over the top
Splash the blood orange juice over the rum
Puff the bitters over the top… one puff of each one…


Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

About Warren Bobrow
Author of: Apothecary Cocktails-Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today- Fair Winds Press- Beverly, Massachusetts. Apothecary Cocktails was nominated for a Spirited Award, 2014 Tales of the Cocktail.  His forthcoming book, Whiskey Cocktails will be released October 14.  Bitters and Shrub Syrup Cocktails follow with publication in spring ’15.  Warren is a master mixologist for several craft liquor companies.

Warren consults about mixology and spirits, travel, organic wine and food.  He’s written for web-blogs and magazines like: Williams-Sonoma, Whole Foods: Dark Rye, Distiller, Total Food Service Magazine, Beverage Media Group, DrinkUpNY, Edible Publications, Foodista, Serious Eats, Mechanics of Style and Beekman1802.  He was in the Saveur-100 in 2010.

Warren is a former, mostly self, trained cook from the pot sink on up.  J&W and ACF were thrown in for good luck.  Warren was the former owner/co-founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in South Carolina: *Dissolved his business after Hurricane Hugo in 1989* - to a career in private banking, (nearly 20 years; “a very grand mistake”) to this reinvention in 2009 as the Warren he's finally become.

Warren is available to do highly personalized, interactive mixology events, local, national and international.
PS: Warren's second book, Whiskey Cocktails is on the market now!

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