zaterdag 24 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : Rhum J.M. Fumée Volcanique


Let me start by stating “You love it or you hate it”. While your average rum is made from melasses (a by-product of the sugar industry), rhum agricole is made from the juice of sugar cane. It’s a bit less sweet and you get more raw flavours in the nose. Still, it won’t scare you, it’s just slightly different. This Rhum J.M. Fumée Volcanique bottling enhances those raw flavours by adding tons of smoke. I would recommend this bottle only for the real rum-lovers. Definitely not for anyone who is just starting to taste rum. Personally I can really appreciate the taste, but the smoky aroma is almost as heavy as an Islay whisky… I still have to get used to this for a rum. 

This rum has aged between 12 and 14 months in ex-Bourbon casks, which were heavily charred by Rhum J.M. The result is a very smoky aroma, salted butter and caramel. In the mouth notes of lime, sugar cane, honey and anise. A very special rum, which delivers a Rum Old Fashioned with a very smoky kick. 

I’ll try to lift up the typical casks influences by adding vanilla syrup. Also lifting up the typical cacao flavours of the rum by using the brand new cacao forastero bitters. You can find these bitters in the better liqueur store, alone or in a set of three together with “piment bondamanjak bitters” and “fleur d’atoumo bitters”. The cacao bitters are a maceration of roasted cocoa beans, peanuts, coffee, sarsaparilla branch, lime zest, vanilla pods and cinnamon sticks. The alcohol used for these bitters is white rum Agricole. 

Volcano Old Fashioned

Ingredients
60 ml Rhum J.M. Fumée Volcanique
10 ml Vanilla syrup
2 dashes Bitters J.M. Cacao Forastero

Method
Stir together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain into a tumbler with a block of fresh ice. Garnish with a dehydrated slice of orange. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

vrijdag 23 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : El Ron Prohibido 12


As said earlier this week, we received two bottles of El Ron Prohibido on our homebar. The second bottle is the Solera 12 blended Mexican Rum. In the nose crushed walnuts, sugar and vanilla. Second comes raisin and prune. In the mouth lots of honey, chocolate and raisin. Just like the 15 Gran Reserva, this one also has lots of influence by the sweet raisin casks. You also get a bit a coffee and nutmeg. The coffee notes stay in the finish. I’m happy that I didn’t use this one for my ‘Rum & Coffee’ Old Fashioned, because it would be too much. 

The lighter and fresher notes inspired to add even more fruity notes in this cocktail. 

Mexican Old Fashioned

Ingredients
50 ml El Ron Prohibido Solera 12 Mexican Rum
20 ml World’s End Falernum (Rum based)
10 ml Simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura Orange bitters

Method
Stir together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain into a tumbler with fresh ice.
Garnish with a dehydrated slice of orange. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 22 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : Ardbeg Wee Beastie


Probably the bottle that sparked my curiosity the most during this year’s #oldfashionedweek: Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5 years. Yes, that’s pretty young and I really wanted to experience how much of an Islay-beastie this dram could be. To my surprise this whisky sure kicks a punch. It’s the rawest and smokiest Ardbeg I have tasted. It didn’t disappoint at all. This brand new expression is the most recent addition to the Ardbeg Ultimate Range. 

Ardbeg Wee Beastie is matured in ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. This dram absolutely activates your senses. Cracked black pepper is very dominant. Pine and smoke. In the mouth lots of chocolate, then tar and creosote. The Beast awakens. A hint of grilled meat and a tail of the salty Islay air. A whisky of 5 years is pretty young. You don’t have the mellowing effect of aging, hence the strong kick. This is an excellent base for a powerful smoky cocktail. 

Wee Beastie Old Fashioned

Ingredients
60 ml Ardbeg Wee Beastie 5
15 ml Honey syrup
10 ml Amaro Montenegro
2 dashes Walnut bitters

Method
Stir together in a mixing glass (all except the amaro) with lots of ice. Strain into your tumbler with a big block of ice. Add a float of Amaro on top. Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

dinsdag 20 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : El Ron Prohibido 15


If you drink rum in the morning, you’re not an alcoholic but a pirate 😉 

If you take a glance at the fantastic bottles of El Ron Prohibido, you really start to feel like Jack Sparrow. These bottles could easily be props for a new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie. 

El Ron Prohibido is Mexican rum produced by Cervecera Mexicana distillery using the well-known Solera system which is used for several brands of rum and sherry. In the Solera system new rum is mixed with older rums. Instead of ex-bourbon barrels, they use ex-wine barrels for aging. 

Two of their dark rums landed on our homebar and they really do not disappoint. For the first cocktail based on this rum, I opened the 15 solera edition. This rum has tones of sweet caramel, nuts, wood, raisins and plums. It has a spicy finish. The raisin wine casks have left a deep influence in this rum, which really makes it different from most Caribbean rums. This is a perfect dessert rum, which might be the rum I was looking for to blend with coffee liqueur. 

Rum & Coffee Old Fashioned

Ingredients
50 ml El Ron Prohibido Solera 15 Gran Reserva
20 ml Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
7 ml Simple syrup
1 or 2 dashes of Angostura Orange bitters

Method
Stir together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain into a tumbler with fresh ice. Garnish with a dehydrated slice of orange. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations

maandag 19 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : Sakurao Gin


We already had a Japanese whisky in this years edition of the Old Fashioned Week, but because today is also #internationalgintonicday I’m mixing one up with a base of Japanese Gin. And I bet gin would be the last thing on your mind when I tell you I’m experimenting with something from Hiroshima. 

Sakurao Dry Gin is made with 9 fresh local botanicals from Hiroshima (green lemon, sweet navel oranges, sweet summer oranges, yuzu, bitter dai dai oranges, Japanese cypress, green tea, aka shiso and ginger) and 5 imported botanicals such as juniper berries and coriander seeds.  

This gin has lots of citrus notes (lemon and yuzu), but also aromas from Japanese cypress and oyster shells. The typical Japanese flavours comes from cherry blossoms, which we also remember from the excellent Roku Gin. In this case the cherry blossoms also gave the name to the gin. Sakura is also the symbol of Sakurao, where the distillery is located. 

Maybe it’s not that very common to use gin for an Old Fashioned, but it’s absolutely possible. The botanicals used in the gin add an extra herbal dimension to the cocktail. For this drink I noticed the strong citrus flavours and added more fruity notes. The result is a very fruity Old Fashioned that doesn’t look like an Old Fashioned at all 😉.  

Sakurao Old Fashioned

Ingredients
60 ml Sakurao Dry Gin
15 ml Rhurbarb Liqueur
2 dashes cranberry bitters

Method
Stir everything together in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain into a nice wineglass. This drink has strong flavours, it really doesn’t need a garnish. A nice flower might be a good option, but I didn’t have any available…  

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.


zondag 18 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : Togouchi whisky


I’ve always had a weird relationship with Japanese whisky. The early bottles just didn’t do it for me and it was only after a masterclass of Suntory’s Toki and Hibiki whisky bottlings that I became interested. 

Recently I received a bottle of Togouchi Premium Blended Japanese Whisky. Of course I have nothing against blended whisky. In the UK the blended malt bottlings of Douglas Laing and Monkey Shoulder are extremely tasty. Togouchi uses a blend of Scottish malt and Canadian grain. At the Chugoku Jozo distillery they don’t age this whisky in warehouses, but in tunnels in Togouchi were it’s always 15°. This reminds us of course of the many caves we visited in the Champagne region. 

A first sip from this bottle wasn’t really extravert or exciting. But it did have that typical Japanese peachy flavour which is always more floral and fruity than Scottish whisky. In the mouth it has a lot of butter and caramel. Also fruit and nuts. I decided to try a very fruity Asian style of Old Fashioned for this one. 

Togouchi Old Fashioned

Ingredients
60 ml Togouchi Blended Whisky
15 ml Marie Brizard Litchi Liqueur 
2 dashes Grapefruit bitters

Method
Stir everything together in a mixglass with lots of ice. Strain into a tumbler with a big block of ice. Add a dehydrated lemon slice. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

vrijdag 16 oktober 2020

Old Fashioned Week 2020 : Belvedere Vodka


Just like the #negroniweek, the #oldfashionedweek is an annual theme week highlighting iconic drinks and raising money for charity. This year both initiatives are supporting the hospitality industry which was knocked down pretty bad by the COVID19 virus. 

This year there seems to be some discussion about the exact dates for #oldfashionedweek. One of the official websites still states November 1 to 10, but doesn’t seem to be updated for this year’s events. Several other websites seem to start today (October 16 to 25). Since this year I will also be an ambassador for #sherryweek (November 2 to 8), the October-week works best for me to showcase some delicious Old Fashioned style cocktails. 

Each year I’m happy to promote this week and publish some tasty recipes myself. For this first drink I’m looking back at the Belvedere Vodka tasting I joined a few weeks ago, led by Global Brand Ambassador Mike Foster. Belvedere is a Polish brand, where they have a DOP for vodka. Only natural products. In the bottle is the result of purified water, grain (rye) and fire to distil. 

The new Heritage 176 bottle is a mix of the well-known Belvedere vodka with a vintage-style malted rye spirit. They use a centuries-old malting rye technique, which includes steeping, sprouting and heating the rye in kilns up to 176 degrees. Yes, that’s what the name refers to. 

The result is a rich and full bodied taste with vanilla, clotted cream, honey, walnut, … certainly not your average vodka. Serve it over ice with a lemon twist… or use it as a base for a delicious cocktail. 

Heritage Style (Belvedere Heritage 176 Signature Cocktail)

Ingredients
60 ml Belvedere Heritage 176
5 ml Honey syrup
2 dashes Walnut bitters

Method
Stir together for 20 seconds in a mixing glass with lots of ice. Strain in a tumbler with a big block of ice. Garnish with a lemon twist. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

zondag 11 oktober 2020

Bitters: The Salt & Pepper in your bar


Ask any Chef which two ingredients he really can’t miss in the kitchen and the answer will probably be “salt and pepper”. A meal without seasoning is boring and flat. Of course the Chef won’t limit himself to those two seasonings, but he will have an array of herbs and spices to use as his personal touch to the dishes and recipes. 

The same applies for bartenders and cocktails. And even when you are making cocktails at home, you really should invest in a few tiny bottles of liquid seasoning. Of course I’m talking about cocktail bitters. Just a few drops of bitters will complete your cocktail. And you can buy them in most liqueur stores. I’ll share with you what I have in the ‘bitters box’ on my homebar. 

Let’s start with the absolute salt and pepper of the cocktail world. The two bitters that you really can NOT be without, because they are essential ingredients for sooooooo many classic cocktails: 

The classical aromatic bitters are the ultimate bitters you need for the best known classic cocktails and the Angostura bottle with the oversized label is still my favourite. Orange bitters you will find from many brands and each one of them will taste slightly different. You might even be tempted to add a few more to your herbs cabinet to have a variety. In my bitters box I have three extra bottles : 

And just like the herbs cabinet in your kitchen, you can start building your own collection of herbal and fruity bitters. I’ll show you mine (if you show me yours ???): 

Extra dash bottles or sprays that might come in handy for some cocktails : 

Last but not least, you really need to add a few kitchen classics too, you’ll need them for spicy cocktails like a Bloody Mary or Michelada. Again, these three are currently in my box : 

I know a lot of bartenders are also reading my blogs. If you can think of just one bitter I absolutely need to add to my (home bar!) collection, please shout and tell me why I need it !!!



woensdag 7 oktober 2020

This is not a banana split (70s disco style cocktail)


I’m still not sure what it is exactly, but something in this Spytail Ginger rum reminds me of something I tasted during my teenage years. This inspired me to mix up a real tacky 70s disco-style drink. And you know what? I actually loved it. Think Saturday Night Fever, Beach Boys, Donna Summer... Shake that booty and have one of these.

The base for this drink is Spytail ginger Rum, but I’ve added some vodka to lift it up a little. I have split the banana liqueur (pun very much intended) to get this special result. 

This is not a banana split

Ingredients
40 ml Spytail Ginger Rum
10 ml Belvedere Vodka
20 ml Fresh lime juice
7,5 ml Giffard Banane du Brésil (Modern style banana liqueur with a hint of cognac)
7,5 ml Pisang Ambon (70s disco style banana liqueur, based on an old Indonesian recipe)
1 dash of chocolate bitters

Method
Bring everything together in a shaker with lots of ice and shake it for at least 20 seconds. Double strain in the most ‘70s disco’ glass you own. Add a sticky cocktail cherry 😉 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

donderdag 1 oktober 2020

Verhofstede Negroni


The Negroni is a very tasty Italian Aperitivo. But there are many reasons why bartenders really love this iconic drink. The ingredients are easily replaceable by other products and each swap creates a new delicious Italian style drink. Each bar can have their own take on this cocktail. 

Gin can be replaced by whisky, rum, mezcal, … whatever spirit you desire. You can even swap it for a good quality Prosecco and have a delicious Sbagliato. There is a whole wide world of vermouths to play with and even the Campari can be swapped for any other bitter or amaro. 

If you want it really easy, you can buy premixed bottled Negroni at your liqueur store. Each year I try to included a good quality bottled Negroni in my posts for the #negroniweek. During the last editions we tested the bottled Negroni from Cockney’s and Belroy’s. This year, due to logistical problems the bottle didn’t arrive on time to be included in the themeweek. But since the iconic Negroni is a tasty cocktail we can easily enjoy all around the year, I decided to publish it anyway. This year we selected a nice bottle of Verhofstede Negroni

You could say this is a pretty alternative bottling. For starters it’s a mix of four ingredients instead of three. Each of the ingredients is produced by Verhofstede and also available in their webshop. The spirit is Edelweiss Gin, which we’ve tested before and has a very nice herbal flavour. The bitter components are a bittersweet vermout and Tante Andrée 35 (a dark herbal bitter). The fruitiness comes in by the Solé orange liqueur (made with Spanish oranges) which softens the drink. The result is a very elegant and silky Negroni. 

Serve on ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with orange. 

You can buy this bottle at your local liqueur store or directly from their webshop

Our friends at Foodbelgium also have a few interesting promotions for Verhofstede products. 

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.