Cocktails and Canapés – Ron Zacapa Rum Drinks at The Pembury

Many readers will be familiar with food & wine pairings, even if it’s nothing beyond James Bond’s “Red wine with fish, that should have told me something!”. The more adventurous of you may have been lucky enough to go to a sherry & tapas or whisky & chocolate event, but what about matching cocktails with food?
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I was first introduced to the concept in October, when Mrs. B & I were invited to a Ketel One Dinner at Pollen Street Social. Such was our enjoyment at this last event that we were delighted to attend a similar one based around Ron Zacapa Rum at Roux at the Pembury at Parliament Square.
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This is named after Michel Roux Jr’s birthplace; Pembury, Kent. The bar comfortably seats 40 people and is designed for guests to relax for pre-dinner or after dinner drinks. In addition to a variety of bespoke cocktails a variety of light food dishes too.
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In the true spirit of teamwork and, to get more than one person’s view, we decided that each of us would take one of the courses. Although they were billed as canapés, each of the courses was more like a mini meal than the usual fayre of vol-au-vents and sausage rolls.
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Pre-dinner Cocktail
Zacapa Cerveza (Ron Zacapa, lime, beer and honey syrup, with a malt and nutmeg foam)
The cocktail waiting for us upon our arrival was an intriguing combination of the sweetness of the rum and malt. The foam on the top was substantial and both highlighted the beer in the syrup and added a strong nose of nutmeg. I was just finishing off this cocktail when I received a phone call from DTS, who was, at that very moment, strolling towards Westminster station, but unaware of the bar’s location. My directions aren’t always the best, but – after unsuccessfully trying to isolate landmarks of particular note to both of us – we came to agreement on the best way of describing the location of Roux at the Pembury: just off of the only corner of Parliament Square that didn’t contain either the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Abbey. Fortunately, DTS arrived just in time to enjoy a Zacapa Cerveza of his own before the canapés were unveiled.
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Course One
Canapé: Virgin Honey & Beetroot Cured Loch Duart S_____ Salmon
Cocktail: Mayan Martini (Ron Zacapa, Gewürztraiminer Wine & Orange Bitters)

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.

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Course Two
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.

Course Three
Canapé: Rum & Raisin Tiramisu
Cocktail: Altoculis Daiquiri (Ron Zacapa, Yuzo Juice, PX & Honey)

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.

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Course Four
Canapé: Coffee, vanilla and Solera 23 Macaroon
Cocktail: Land of the Trees (Ron Zacapa, Grand Marnier, Noilly Prat and Kaffir Lime Leaves)

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.

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Course Five
Canapé: Cheese and Pickles
Cocktail: Ron Zacapa on The Rocks

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.

In Conclusion

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.

Further Details

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.

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This entry was posted in Vintage Cocktails and tagged , , , , , , by DTS. Bookmark the permalink.

About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… www.summerfruitcup.com Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

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