The White and Black Pirates
This is the month of romance, it’s half-way milestone full of reminders of love and all the associated gifts, like chocolate. Chocolate notes can be found in aged rums, as well as in aged cigars, so this should be a simple task, right? We are, after all, talking about a term often used to describe notes in both products, but it could be a bit complicated to make it work in the actual pairing, let’s see.
When colonizers first discovered the cacao fruit, they described it as something unpleasant and too bitter. Years later, its potential was re-discovered and now all chocolate experts speak about its quality and purity when making quality products.
For this pairing we are going to explore the White Russian and the Black Russian, both adapted to use rum, and will they work with a cigar? I don’t think it will be unpleasant, but I have my doubts about it being an extraordinary pairing.
Here are the recipes:
1 oz Rhum Blanc Bielle from Guadeloupe
1 oz Chocolate Liqueur, Von Blumenau
1 oz Milk Crème
1 oz Ron Legendario Añejo de Cuba
1 oz Chocolate Liqueur, Von Blumenau
Both of these had a piece of oak, to be used as a swizzle stick, made just for the occasion. This was for esthetic reasons only, I doubt the sticks impart any wood notes to the cocktails.
Both of these recipes can be found on the internet and they usually present ingredients in the same order, so they don’t mix, something that is left to the discretion of the consumer.
As far as the cigar, I chose a format dearly-loved by many: a Robusto. I wanted a format that would suit the Valentine’s Day theme, so I obviously had to choose a Short Churchill from… Romeo y Julieta! There can be nothing more romantic, right?
Even from before drinking the White Pirate (un-mixed), I knew it would be a difficult pairing and it was: too much creaminess and chocolate flavor. It was like smoking chocolate milk, except with alcohol, but milk nonetheless. It was not unpleasant, but I struggled to find the balance in the pairing, even with the rhum’s 59% ABV. By the time I reached the 2nd third I decided I had to mix the ingredients in the cocktail. Even then, the chocolate was a bit too much for me, but it is possible that it will strike a chord with some people.
It was then that I decided to shift to the Black Pirate. The key here was to highlight the chocolate notes, to pair them with those from the tobacco and this was exactly what happened: the rum in its full strength and the liqueur at 17% provided the alcohol notes, meanwhile the cigar was showcasing its character, with a body strength slightly above medium. While it was true that the pairing worked better with the Black Pirate, it is also true that it did not really impress me with the manner in which the players came together.
I think that this pairing could work even better using a cigar that is a bit milder (lighter wrapper or weaker coffee notes) and also making a Black Pirate with a bit more rum or rum with higher congener level, perhaps something dark from Jamaica or Demerara.
I hope you enjoy this pairing with your loved one, and why not add a few pieces of chocolate for an even more romantic way to end the evening!
Philip Ili Barake
-Article written by Philip Ili Barake-
My name is Philip Ili Barake, Sommelier by trade. As a result of working with selected restaurants and wine producers in Chile, I started developing a passion for distilled spirits and cigars. As part of my most recent job, I had the opportunity to visit many Central American countries, as well as, rum distilleries and tobacco growers.
But my passion for spirits and cigars did not end there; in 2010 I had the honor of representing Chile at the International Cigar Sommelier Competition, where I won first place, becoming the first South American to ever achieve that feat.
Now I face the challenge of impressing the readers of “Got Rum?” with what is perhaps the toughest task for a Sommelier : discussing pairings while being well aware that there are as many individual preferences as there are rums and cigars in the world.
I believe a pairing is an experience that should not be limited to only two products; it is something that can be incorporated into our lives. I hope to help our readers discover and appreciate the pleasure of trying new things (or experiencing known things in new ways).