Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. Mombacho used to have the Diplomatico series. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce whisky, gin, rum, vodka and liquors.
New Grove Plantation Rum
New Grove is a rum from a 7000 acres plantation in Mauritius, an Island nation in the Indian Ocean. The plantation produces about 875.000 tonnes of sugar cane each year, mostly for the production of sugar but some goes to the Grays distillery, the first on the island. Grays produces about 6 million litres of alcohol annually. There is a whole series of rums coming from this distillery but I opted for the light rum as I ran out of white rum and needed a new bottle. My go-to cocktail nowadays for me and my wife is a tea amour, a signature cocktail from a cigar bar in Kuala Lumpur, The Cabinet. I have the specs of the drink, but I would only get it if I swore secrecy and never reveal the contents of the drink so I can’t use it in my articles. But that’s beside the point. A friend, who is in the alcohol business, advised me this rum as it’s affordable, it’s good as a mixer and way better than Bacardi he said. The ABV of this clear rum is 40%.
As always, I prefer to try a new liquor in a Glencairn glass as in my opinion that’s the best style of glass to try a spirit. The tulip shape concentrates the aroma and the flavour for an optimal experience. On the nose this is a strong spirit, it smells a bit like paint thinner mixed with grassy notes. The spirit burns but is also very sweet. This is not a nice rum to sip as its quite aggressive, but it is a great rum to make a cocktail, as I already made the tea amour with it. If you decide to drink this neat, then I suggest a strong earthy cigar to go with it.
The nose is mostly mint, with some sweetness where I expected lime. I used a different recipe today, with more syrup and more lime juice as my other recipe. The lime is strong, and the rum is still quite aggressive. Maybe I should have used my normal recipe (see the article about El Rumba for the other recipe) instead of this upgraded one as now it’s too lime forward to pair nicely with a cigar. I must say, all the components of the cocktail mix well, yet are still all equally individually noticeable. The sweetness of the syrup, the grassy notes and the burn of the rum, the tart of the lime and the freshness of the mint. A strong and peppery cigar might do the trick.
And now for the Mojito recipe (recipe from truffles on the rocks YouTube):
3 mint leaves
1 ounce or 30ml of demerara syrup
2 ounces or 60ml of New Grove
1 ounce or 30ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
Garnish: lime wheel and mint sprig
add the mint, lime juice and the demerara syrup in a Collins glass and add the squeezed lime in quarters. Stir, add ice, the rum and club soda, stir gently and garnish with a lime wheel and some mine.
I have no idea if this cocktail has anything to do with the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, but it would not surprise me as it is a Caribbean island, and the Caribbean and rum share a strong history and relationship. The aroma of the cocktail only comes from the garnish, and then I don’t mean the brandied cherry but only the orange. Wow, this is a cocktail that is delicious and balanced. The lime gives it a nice sour taste, the banana and the pineapple give a tropical taste and the grenadine gives this cocktail its sweetness. The vodka and the rum give the drink depth without overpowering the fruit juices. This makes it a dangerous cocktail as well, because you don’t really taste the vodka and rum. The balance of this Aruba Ariba makes it work with most cigars, from a creamy mild Connecticut to a strong and sweet maduro powerhouse and everything in between. I can see myself sitting in the garden on a nice summer afternoon with this drink and a nice cigar in my hand just enjoying life.
And now for the Aruba Ariba recipe:
3 ounces or 90ml of Orange Juice, freshly squeezed
1½ ounce or 45ml of Pineapple juice
¾ ounce or 22½ml of Grenadine
½ ounce or 15ml of Vodka
½ ounce or 15ml of New Grove Plantation rum
¼ ounce or 7½ml of Banana liqueur
¼ ounce or 7½ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
Garnish: Orange wheel and a brandied cherry
Pour orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, vodka, rum, crème de banana, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Place lid on shaker, and shake until well combined, 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with cherry and orange slice.
There are several recipes of the Zombie available online, mine comes from BBCgoodfood.com which is different, and less complicated, than the version from liquor.com. And no, the Zombie cocktail does not use cranberry juice, it’s not in my head, in my head, Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie-ie, oh. The ice is muting all of the aromas on the nose, so there is only some from the orange garnish and of course the mind. The cocktail is tarter than I expect, with the sweetness of grenadine and pineapple. I think this cocktail can use little less lime juice or a higher proof dark rum with more character than Infinity 12 that I used. The minty flavour comes from both the garnish and the New Grove Plantation rum. Again this is a dangerous cocktail as the alcohol is not or barely detectable. The lime makes thing cocktail a bit harder to pair but it’s not that bad that it’s impossible. A stronger cigar, chockfull of strong Nicaraguan tobacco, would pair well. Take a RoMa craft, but then change the dark rum with some Flor de Cana as that’s the rum I often see in pictures from RoMa Craft’s Skip Martin.
And now for the Zombie recipe:
1 ounce or 30ml of Dark rum
1 ounce or 30ml of New Grove Plantation
2 ounces or 60ml of lime juice, freshly squeezed
5 ounces or 150ml of Pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of grenadine.
Garnish: Orange wheel, brandied cherry and a mint sprig
Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake till well chilled and then strain into a hurricane glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the orange wheel, cherry and mint,