Photo by @Cigarili
Philip Ili Barake with Cocktail
Philip Ili Barake, Cigar Sommelier and contributing writer for "Got Rum?" magazine.
During the past couple of weeks I’ve had to attend a number of events for my employer, and at all of them there were cocktails that stole the show. For today’s pairing I’ve selected two of these cocktails.
The first one is a classic Whisky cocktail that can be easily adapted to use Rum is the Old Fashioned. When made with Zacapa 23 it becomes a Zacapa Old Fashioned. When prepared well, one can leave aside the orange juice, often the pineapple juice as well, balancing it instead with the fresh notes from the orange peel. When prepared well, all it takes is one sip to change one’s perception of mixology. Of course it doesn’t hurt that Zacapa is also in the background, setting forth its rich oak barrel notes.
The second classic cocktail, one which has been around for over 100 years is the Manhattan, originally prepared with a Rye Whiskey and made famous during prohibition using Canadian Whisky. But of all its variants we are only concerned with one: the rum variant. When prepared with rum, the classic drink becomes a Cuban Manhattan or a Captain Manhattan.
But which rum should one use? For our experiment we’ll create a Demerara Manhattan, since we will be using El Dorado Single Barrel EHP, which contributes the unique character of its potstill alcohols to the drink, especially when it is garnished with a maraschino cherry.
Now that we have our two cocktails selected, each one made with a different rum, all that is left is to find a cigar to conduct the pairing. Just like we did when we did the coffee and cigar pairing, in order to have the best results when dealing with mixed drinks, we should be reaching out for a short cigar, one that will allow us to enjoy the drinks promptly and at their best temperature, while allowing the cigar to showcase its tobaccos fairly quickly as well. For today’s pairing I’ve selected H. Upmann’s Half Corona, 44 ring and 90mm in length, with a smoking time of around 20 minutes, ideal for one or, in our case, two classic rum cocktails!
The Half Corona was released in boxes of 25 cigars in 2011, it was another addition to the list of “short smoke” options that have grown in popularity in recent years, due to the strict regulations and permits surrounding cigar smoking. I could not imagine smoking a Julieta N. 2, with over an hour of smoking time, accompanied by several cocktails, as it would defeat the purpose of this pairing (but is not necessarily a bad idea).
The cigar comes across as being very fresh, with pronounced notes of humidity, probably due to how young the tobacco is (mine came from a 5-unit pack just recently released into the market).
I was conducting the pairing with both cocktails and the cigar at the event, quite a sight if you could imagine it. It reminded me of how we wrapped up last year for “Got Rum?”, smoking on the beach in Grenada. It was obvious my life was headed in the right direction.
I must admit that both variants from the classic cocktails (using rum instead of Whiskey) produce unique results. I would even dare say that, under certain circumstances, the results are better than the original drinks. This was one such circumstance: I was overwhelmed by how well the Demerara Manhattan paired with the second third of the cigar; it was truly a pairing destined to become a classic, one which I blindly recommend to any smoking lounge. I liked both cocktails because they don’t alter the essence of the rum used in their preparations and I am happy to recommend them as such.
To wrap up the night, and thinking about all the ladies who enjoy Cosmopolitans, I ordered one from the bar. Not one made with rum, but the classic one instead.
¡Viva la revolución!
Philip Ili Barake