It's National Rum Day: 5 L.A. Bars for Great Rum-Based Cocktails
When it comes to booze, it's always National "something" Day. Today it's the pirate's choice -- rum. Considering that we're in the thick of summer, the timing is quite apropos. Not only does rum have the transformative ability to whisk you off to a (possibly imaginary) Caribbean island with one sip, but its often spicy, bright orange and vanilla flavors fairly scream "vacation."
Acuna-Hansen Jamaican Farewell
In recent years, rum has emerged from its checkered profile as a slushy drink additive (Do you like Piña Coladas?...), becoming a spirit of amazing refinement and variation. Light or dark, aged or Navy strength (i.e., higher than the usual ABV), there's a rum to satisfy every drinker, be they party animal, holiday cocktailian or sipping aficionado. Ever willing to push the limits of a spirit's mixability, Los Angeles bartenders have embarked on a rum odyssey that shows no signs of abating. And why should it? Rum's naturally sweet character -- it's the product of either molasses or sugar cane juice -- makes it a no-brainer for summer cocktails when tipples tend to be more laid back.
So, let National Rum Day be an excuse to try something new in the rum pantheon. Bermuda, Jamaica, Dominican? Light, dark, aged? It ain't just for boozy slurpees, ya know. The drinks below will, indeed, give you an instant vacation, no reservations -- or dead men's chest -- required.
Allumette Mamajuana Vacation 13
In the Dominican Republic, mamajuana is a common mix of rum, red wine, honey and herbs that tastes a bit like port. For the Mamajuana Vacation 13, Serena Herrick, bartender at Allumette, made her own bottling of mamajuana after discovering it in the D.R. "My version varies a bit with each batch, but roughly includes Smith & Cross, Rhum J.M., Appleton VX, Zaya, Flor de Cana, Averna Amaro, Cynar, Meletti (also an amaro), pistachio tincture, and honey." To "make it a really perfect summer drink" in her mind, she mixed this personal brew with Carpano Antica, orgeat (an almond-based syrup), coconut, lime, orange, soda and a dusting of nutmeg. Sweet, spicy, fruity, and a bit fizzy - indeed, perfect summer sipping fodder. 1320 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles; (213)935-8787.
4. Coco Laurent
Ryan Tanaka Insane Bolt
The pronounced character of Angostura bitters in his Insane Bolt cocktail opened the door for Coco Laurent's bar manager Krishna Vutla to compete in the Angostura Bitters U.S. Cocktail Challenge at Tales of the Cocktail this year. There's good reason for this -- the Bolt riffs on Giuseppe Gonzalez' Trinidad Sour, which has a full ounce and a half of Angostura bitters in it, along with rye as the main spirit. Vutla took the bitters down a notch, and substituted rum. Still, with the high-proof intensity of Smith & Cross, complemented by lime, bitters, maraschino, and orgeat (it's a natural partner for rum), the Insane Bolt is still essentially a sour, offering a lip-puckering zing for a hot summer day. 707 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 623-0008.