London is a beautiful city. I’ve been living here for 6 years now, first as a student, then working in a corporate office and now as a digital nomad, and love every part of it. The one thing all Londoners will complain about is the weather. With all its beauty, cosmopolitan environment and rich history London is unfortunately plagued by grey, cold and rainy weather. In February the St Kitts Tourism Board invited me to a cocktail making class, which even if only for a brief evening, promised to whisk me away from cold and grey London and transport me to a Caribbean beach. How could I say no?
The evening was hosted by Ian Burrell, also known as the Rum Ambassador. We started the evening with a welcome rum cocktail, before diving into a presentation about the history and properties of rum. Did you know that rum is produced all over the world? The best one comes from the Caribbean, and more specifically St Kitts (totally unbiased opinion here). Just kidding, however the best rums really are made in tropical destinations, thanks to the properties of sugar cane and influence of the weather in the production process.
How is rum made?
The key ingredient from which rum comes from is sugar cane. Sugar canes are harvested and crushed to create fresh sugar cane juice. This sugar cane juice is then turned into either a syrup or molasses, depending on the country and distillery where it is produced, which is then fermented with yeast to produce alcohol. This is then distilled, and the rum stored in wooden casks for aging. The minimum amount of time that you need to age rum for varies in every country. In Puerto Rico and Cuba it’s minimum 1 year, whilst in Venezuela and Australia you need to age it for at least 2 years.
The presentation then went on to dispel some common myths about rum. For example, did you know that not all aged rums are dark? Some popular white rums are actually aged, but through a whitening process that involves passing the rum through charcoal, the final product is clear. Another rum that Ian shared which surprised me was that not all rums are cheap. One particular brand is known as the world’s oldest bottled rum; the Harewood Rum was bottled in 1780 (that’s a 238 years old bottle!) and in 2013 24 bottles were auctioned for £250,000. If you want to do your great-great-great grandkids a present, produce some rum now and let it age for 200 years!
Some rum cocktail ideas
After the main presentation we then moved on to an introduction about some typical cocktails that you can make with rum. Ian talked about each of them first, and then showed us how to make them. We also got to have a taster of each of them. My personal favourite was the Passion Cooler, made with Brinley Lime rum, Passion Fruit puree, lime juice, mint leaves and ginger beer. While I’m not a coffee fan (which makes a lot of people doubt whether I’m really Italian) I loved also the KitSpesso Martini, made with Brinley Coffee rum, Cane Spirits Ritchmont, espresso coffee and agave nectar.
We then moved on to a daiquiri-making contest. With all our newfound knowledge about rum, what sweeteners and what mixers go well with it, we were asked to create a daiquiri of our choice in the least possible amount of time. While I didn’t do that well on time due to the shaker getting stuck, I thought at least the flavour tasted great. You can see in the photo below that it even looked great (sarcasm alert).
About St Kitts
I’ve talked a lot about rum so far, but since this is a travel blog I figured I should tell you a bit about the destination that hosted this event; the Caribbean island of St Kitts. I was actually lucky enough to visit St Kitts a few years ago while on a cruise in the Caribbean. I was young at the time but I remember St Kitts being one of my favourite stops. St Kitts is a small island, only 18 miles long, but with its natural beauty and warm weather, it attracts and caters for all kinds of tourists. If you’re a beach lover, the white sand and crystal clear waters of St Kitts are an obvious choice if you’re trying to escape the European winter cold. St Kitts also has a mountainous heart and rainforests, which make it perfect for the outdoors adventure travellers. In St Kitts you can go zip-lining, wreck diving and hiking in the rainforest. And of course, sip some lovely rum-based cocktails!
Have you been to St Kitts before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! Let me also know if you’re a rum lover, as a big mojito fan myself; I’d love to hear your rum cocktail suggestions!
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