This was just one of the cocktails that used Virgin Honey, which is the juice first pressing of the sugar cane. Many Rums use Molasses as the base of their production but Ron Zacapa uses Virgin Sugar Cane Honey.
The canapé contained a great mix of textures with the soft salmon and the crunchy beetroot. The smoky, slightly salty salmon went well with the acidic twang of the beetroot. As for the cocktail, I thought it was rather like a Manhattan and a very enjoyable way to enjoy the rum without diluting it with a soft drink or fruit juice.
Canapé: XO Braised shin of beef with root vegetables roasted with virgin honey
Cocktail: Quetzaltenango Fizz (Ron Zacapa, lemon juice, sugar and Shiraz, topped with soda)
I thought this was an interesting combination. In my opinion, the longer cocktail tasted a little like a bitter fruit cup that was cleansing and more subtle than the other drinks of the evening. A good job, too, because the beef was absolutely delicious: perfectly tender, falling apart at the touch of a fork, and rich, with a sweetness that neatly bridged the rum and the wine. Everybody’s bowls were quickly scraped clean, the beef being washed down with the fizz.
I once heard that your favourite flavour of ice-cream says a lot about your personality. My favourite flavour happens to be Rum & Raisin, so combining this with one of my favourite desserts, Tiramisu, was definitely leading to a win-win situation.
This was accompanied by a twist on the classic rum Daiquiri, where sugar syrup was substituted with Pedro Ximenez sherry and honey. In addition, lime juice was added, which was needed to add some extra zest to combat the sweetness of some of the other ingredients.
The pudding was superb; just what I expected from containing my two favourite desserts, with rich coffee notes from the Tiramisu aspect alongside the cream of rum and raisin ice cream. I hope I get a chance to have something like this again.
Next, we were presented with cute little macaroons that easily melted in your mouth, without being overly sweet. The cocktail accompaniment combined a number of strong flavours very well, resulting in a very fresh and fruity, but nonetheless powerful, drink.
Finally the evening was finished of with a generous glass of Ron Zacapa on the rocks and cheese and pickled onions served on cocktails sticks. Not being a big fan of onions, I was delighted when another tray, this time of cheese and pineapple, was passed round. This was a very unusual combination of Traditional British Wedding Buffet fayre and the sophistication of sipping a special rum. As you would expect, the ingredients were of good quality and the strength of the cheese and freshness of the pineapple helped me to enjoy the rum even more.
Tasting notes on Ron Zacapa Solera 23:
Nose: Honey, vanilla as well as some succulent fruit notes, a dark sugar too
Taste: Initially a very smooth texture with a little warmth gradual building. Some sweetness but overall quite a silky spirit, balanced with a well-rounded slightly oaky finish.
Just like the Ketel One meal, I really enjoyed this event. I also thought that the slightly more informal setting meant that it was easier to talk to a greater variety of people; that said, a good portion of our evening was spent in the fine company of Pete & Pauline of The Floating Rum Shack / Gin Palace, but, even so, we met a lot of new people.
I also really like the idea of pairing food with cocktails and spirits and I think it can be done with great effect. With the rise in gastronomic practices behind the bar, I think this will be a growing trend, with many more similar events appearing, as well as an increase in single cocktail food pairings.
To me, that sounds superb.
Roux At The Pembury – Parliament Square, London, SW1P 3AD – Website
Ron Zacapa Centenario Rum Solera 23 – £48.95 for 70cl at The Whisky Exchange
Ron Zacapa Centenario XO Rum (1876-1976) – £155 for 70cl at The Whisky Exchange
Special thanks to Michel Roux Jr., Abdulai Kpekawa as well as Sarah, Kate, Emily and their colleagues at Grayling.