A gustatory voyage from Latin America to the Caribbean, The Chesterfield Mayfair’s new rum experience steers guests on a unique tasting journey to discover what pairs best with the convivial spirit. Here, we chat to Bar Supervisor Adrian Ponte Manana, who facilitates the experience. A keen connoisseur and charming host, Manana shares his insider secrets and lesser-known facts about the world of rum.
How is rum produced?
“It’s distilled alcohol made by fermenting molasses, the by-product of sugarcane. It’s distilled at high temperatures in copper or stainless-steel stills to obtain a high ethanol content, then diluted. The product is often aged in oak barrels.”
How far back does it go?
“The world of rum traces its roots to the 7th century, when an Ayurvedic Indian physician named Vagbhata allegedly instructed a man to drink a form of unvitiated liquor with mango juice while in the company of friends. ‘Sidhu’, a drink produced by fermentation and distillation of sugarcane juice, is mentioned in other Sanskrit texts, too.
Another early rum-like drink is brum, which was reportedly prepared by the Malay people thousands of years ago. Marco Polo also recorded a 14th-century account of a ‘very good wine of sugar’ that was offered to him in the area that became modern-day Iran. In the 17th century, rum first began being distilled in the Caribbean by sugarcane plantation slaves. These workers learnt to successfully remove its impurities and brew a drink resembling the rum of today.”
Who produces the best rum?
“The Caribbean and Latin America, where the majority of the world’s rum is currently made.”
What are your favourite flavour pairings?
“White rum is aged for less time than darker varieties and pairs well with lemon, lime, strawberry, mango, and passion fruit, to make daiquiris and mojitos. When matching light or silver rums with food, think fresh seafood or ceviche, while sweet-tasting piña coladas (rum, coconut and pineapple) are great with chicken, especially fried chicken or chicken satay. Coconut pairs well with peanut sauce.
Dark, black or golden rums are aged for longer, usually resulting in a bolder flavour. Golden rums go with a range of Caribbean dishes, like jerk chicken and blackened fish, plantain and breadfruit crisps. Dark rum mixed with coke is a classic order alongside a burger or American-style barbeque food. Spiced and flavoured rums use ingredients aside from sugar to alter the taste of the spirit and can take on any colour.”
What are your favourite rum-based drinks right now?
“During the summer time, I like to prepare refreshing rum cocktails—like a Strawberry Daiquiri, a Dark ‘N’ Stormy or a Mojito Royale.”
Any interesting facts about the world of rum?
“Rum is famously associated with the British Royal Navy and piracy. It used to be muddled with water or beer to make ‘grog’ or ‘bumbo’. An esteemed producer, J. Wray & Nephew’s rum is distilled on the Jamaican capital of Kingston, made legendary by centuries-old tales about pirates. A bottle of their rum was valued as the most expensive in the world in 1949, selling for $54,000, and there are only four known bottles of this vintage left today.”
Contact Red Carnation Hotels’ The Chesterfield Mayfair to arrange an immersive journey into the world of rum.