This time on a Wednesday, Canary Wharf’s bars and pubs were buzzing, as Wednesday is fast turning into the new Thursday for mid-week drinks in Docklands. At Rum & Sugar there were lots of office groups and diners, which added to the atmosphere.
The night followed the same proceedings as before – a welcome cocktail (featuring the rum of the month, Matusalem), a guided tasting with Alessio the bar manager (and resident rum connoisseur) and matched food pairings from chef Joe.
First up was Don Q Cristal – a Puerto Rican rum that has 70% of its production staying on the island. It’s a blend of column still rums, aged between one and five years and then filtered five times through charcoal. This takes away all the colour gained from the ageing process and leaves a basic, crisp white rum with citrus notes. This was paired with salmon tartare with caper and sour cream, served on toast. Given that the rum is quite bland, it went very much like a white wine with the fish dish.
Second was Havana Club 3 Años, which Alessio told us had been a hit at the Rum Masters 2016, indeed being awarded the Masters in the white premium category. Interestingly, as it’s a Cuban rum, the barrels used for maturation are usually third-use due to the embargo between Cuba and the States limiting the direct import of bourbon barrels. It’s a filtered rum, which shows as a straw-coloured in the glass. On the nose, again we got citrus and a tiny bit of coconut and a fresh finish that was sweeter than the Don Q in the mouth. Joe found these first two rums quite difficult to pair with food given their light flavours, and for the Havana Club he decided to do a dish inspired by a mojito: pressed watermelon cured with salt and sugar, with feta, dried tomato and mint. The sweetness of the rum complemented the watermelon, which was then cut by the savoury of the feta and acidity of the tomato.
We’d requested a few agricoles to be included this time and Alessio obliged with the remaining three.
Next was St Aubin white from Mauritius, an agricole distilled using the first press of the sugar cane and bottled at 50%. St Aubin’s one of those rums we don’t hear much about in the UK, but it has a long history, dating back to 1819. This is completely unaged, and is surprisingly mild on the nose, completely belying it’s high ABV, with key notes of straw, hay and grass, along with soft pepper and mild orange. In the mouth it had a long, grassy finish, again without any harshness from the strength of the alcohol. This was paired with confit duck with orange, which really emphasised the orange notes in the rum. The fresh sugar aromas of a raw agricole were also a wonderful thing alongside the food (getting my inner John Torode on). This was definitely our favourite – in terms of both the neat rum and the food pairing.
Next up in the agricole line-up was Rhum JM VSOP, an aged agriole (at least four years) from Martinique. On the nose we got bubblegum, licorice, oak, cinnamon and dried fruits. We find aged agricoles have lots of strong flavours on the nose and with this rum, they developed further to cherry after a bit if airing. Joe found this the easiest to pair – with cinnamon cake. We also got to try cinnamon buds, the dried flower buds from the cinnamon tree. They look like cloves, and have a firy cinnamon flavour, very similar to the cinnamon jelly bean flavour!
The final rum was Rhum Clément VSOP, again an aged agricole from Martinique. This is also aged or four years, in cognac and whisky casks. Similar to Rhum JM, a bit of licorice on the nose, smokiness and oak. In the mouth it also had the oiliness from its pot still distillation, a bit of chocolate and smoky whisky. Joe paired this with a hay-smoked chocolate mousse. Quite experimental, it was to pick out the smoky and chocolate notes of the rum and had that salty-sweet mix that we’re really into. It was very rich, but the rum served as a bit of a palate cleanser too and although we were warned we might not be able to, we all got through all of our little pots.
As a final treat, Alessio introduced us to El Ritual, a classic Venezuelan way of doing a shot. Pour a shot of Pampero Anniversario, take a wedge of lime and dip one side in sugar and one side in ground coffee. Suck the lime wedge and drink the shot. An instant hit that we’ll be adding to our repertoire.
This food pairing has been again, a big hit for us. Alessio and Joe did a great job again, at suprising us with this new of food and rum pairing, they were brave enough to try something different.
Rum & Sugar is definitely at the top of their game, when it comes down to rum and cocktails. They make really tasty and unique drinks, that make us want to come back for more. If you don’t like cocktails, there is a huge selection of great rums for you to try!
Have some cocktails, try a new rum from their massive collection, ask for an El Ritual, or book a rum and food pairing! We highly recommend you to visit Rum & Sugar, as we think that the place is just great!
Until next time, keep rumming!