18 rums together. A hard task for many a rum lover, but spare a thought for Alfred Lamb, wine connoisseur and entrepreneur, who blended 18 back in 1849 to create the staple that we know call Lamb’s. It might sound like a simple story, but some of the best and well-known names are simple, and don’t need such historic backgrounds to be seen as an enjoyable brand.
Anyway, it’s the liquid that does the talking, surely?
Rums from Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana are chosen to create the Navy Rum we come to know today. Around 1871, Alfred Lamb was storing his rum within the West India Dock warehouse along the River Thames. Once stored, Alfred instructed four years to pass before the matured rum could be enjoyed. The Navy aspect of the brand comes from the British Navy, and indeed the rations of rum (an eye-watering 80% abv) being half a pint a day and introduced back in 1731. This practice came to an end July 31st 1970, mainly due to the advance in Naval equipment (no one wants a nuclear war to start due to the drunken sailors on board her Majesties vessel). Not do deter Lamb’s, they started a promotion campaign with the slogan ‘Join the Lamb’s Navy’.
So, how does Lamb’s fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Lamb’s Navy – 40%
Plenty of vanilla and dark caramel on the nose, with hints of burnt toffee coming through. Sweet caramel on the palate creates a short and sometimes dry finish.
Lamb’s Navy Spiced– 30%
Very light on the nose with aromas of sweet vanilla. Slight flavours of lime on the palate, with very sweet vanilla dominating the slightly dry finish.
The Lamb’s Navy is a great shout, and versatile enough to be enjoyed within cocktails too –
37.5 ml Lamb’s Navy Rum
12.5 ml Creme de Mure
20 ml vanilla liqueur
50 ml pineapple juice
25 ml fresh lime juice
12.5 ml grenadine syrup
Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with a pineapple slice and cherry.
The Lamb’s range is a great go to brand, and can be found in most venues around the UK, and indeed the world. Whilst the spiced isn’t one of my favourites, the original Navy is up their with some of the best. For a traditional recipe, seek no further.
Every great story begins with a time and a place. One such story involves a brand that is familiar to most, Mount Gay.
Created on the Caribbean island of Barbados, the land that back in 1703 called rum ‘kill-devil’, a gentleman named Sir John Gay, a respected leader and businessman who worked tirelessly in service on the island, was requested by friend John Sober to help manage an unknown distillery he had inherited. Sir John Gay took quickly to the business of making rum. He refined the distillation process and began producing what we know today as Mount Gay Rum. With this, Mount Gay Rum is the oldest existing brand of rum in the world.
So how did Sir John Gay create Mount Gay?
Using hand cut Barbadian sugar cane, the cane is mixed with coral filtered water and a proprietary strain of yeast to ferment in the open air of Barbados. Once fermented, the mix is then distilled within traditional double copper pot stills which is then matured in charred white oak barrels which have previously held American whiskey. After ageing, it is then blended by Master Blender Allen Smith to create the Mount Gay range.
So how does the range fare? Well I’ve been lucky enough to try some of their portfolio so below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Mount Gay Eclipse– 40%
Named for the ‘double phenomenon’ of a total solar eclipse and the passage of Halley’s comet in 1910. Light, butter scent on the nose with a floral edge of vanilla striking through. A little sharp on the palate with heavy fruit flavours and banana dominating. Kicks of wood and vanilla cause it to linger for a while.
Mount Gay Black Barrel – 43%
Released in the UK in May 2014, but the US in April 2013. The only Mount Gay rum finished in charred bourbon oak barrels after blending. Black Barrel is made from sugar cane molasses, within column and pot still rums, and has a higher proportion of pot still than any of the other Mount Gay expressions.
Sublte, smooth notes of vanila on the nose,with a slightly charred aroma of treacle and toffee. Soft, buttery and slight kicks of pepper on the palate. Light cinnamon seems to dominate the finish, with thin textures of vanilla and toffee creating a long experience.
Two fantastic rums, with the Eclipse pairing well with one of these –
30 ml Mount Gay Eclipse
10 ml Blackberry Liqueur
10 ml Creme de Banana Liqueur
60 ml Orange Juice
15 ml Grenadine
Pour ingredients and crushed ice in a blender. Blend until slushy and pour into hurricane glass.
Yesterday I swung by Manchester’s Printworks where the ever impressive Hard Rock Cafe can be found. A popular place that in the past has always left a lasting impression on me whether its food or drinks, this time though, I went for a couple of cocktails before the commute home.
Making my way to the large open bar, a rather busy, yet unfazed barman was creating drinks left right and centre, so I scanned the bar menu and looked for any delights that caught my eye. Almost immediately, the Rum Runner was selected. A combination of Bacardi Superior, banana, Chambord, grenadine, orange juice and sweet and sour mix, shaken and poured over ice with a Myers rum floated on top. Fantastic! Despite the bar being a little busy, I was served within minutes and I was enjoying the drink as I took in the rock memorabilia around me. Being a Manchester based venue, there were quotes from Oasis scrolled around the walls, The Beatles equipment, and even Roger Taylor’s (Queen) jacket from a tour. Signed posters, records, drum kits and guitars were all neatly presented so that it didn’t look like your were drinking in someones cluttered basement, but more an open museum. Anthems from Muse, Journey and even Louis Armstrong were played in the background, loud enough for you to hear, but quiet enough for you to actually enjoy a conversation without straining your voice.
The next drink I chose was the Exotic Margarita. A blend of Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau and Monin Pomegranate, shaken into a rather sizeable Margarita glass complete with salt rim. Noticing that Hard Rock stocked one of my favourite tequila’s, i looked over their back bar to see what else they offered. Bourbons Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Knob Creek mingle with Myers, Bacardi Gold and Superior whilst Grey Goose, Skyy, Absolut and Stolichnaya are available for your vodkas. I even spotted a bottle of Remy Martin XO on the shelf! On tap, only Stella Artois, Becks Vier and Boddingtons are seen, however their bottle collection more than makes up for it including Corona, Budweiser, Magners, Heineken and Leffe Blonde. A simple yet good selection of wine is also on offer, with all bottles less than £20, with the odd bottle of sparkling wine and Champagne thrown in their too.
Back to the cocktail menu, and theirs all your usual finds in Long Island Ice Tea, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri and Mojito as well as a few variations of the Margarita. Their ‘Alternative Rock’ section is for the drivers of the day, with a ‘Groupie Grind’ not surprisingly catching my eye! (mango puree, pina colada mix and pineapple juice with a strawberry swirl). The cocktails are between £5.15 and £6.80 which are bargains, especially with the size glassware you can get with some of the cocktails. A selection of the drinks can even be upgrade to have them made into a Hard Rock Cafe branded glass, which you can then take home with you – a collection that is growing steadily at mine!
My time at Hard Rock Cafe flew by as I got caught up in the atmosphere and chatting with Nathan the bartender. A man of many stories, including the time he had to host one of Hard Rock Cafe’s ‘Shake It Up’ events with 12 women, who were determined to drink nothing but straight vodka! He’s also a man of class, naming the Old Fashioned as his favourite drink.
This is an excellent place in the heart of Manchester to come and unwind after work or a day of shopping, with kids allowed to be present too so families are welcome. The restaurant on the upper level never seemed empty, despite it being in the middle of the afternoon, and the comfortable looking bar booths and high tables were filled with business men, chatting women with glasses of wine, or families waiting around for a short while to experience the food menu – a menu that will be explored on my next visit!
Myself and my friend popped in to Hard Rock Cafe for a bite to eat after a long day in Manchester this week, after the promise to myself to explore their extensive menu after my visit above.
Being seated straight away, we were nestled on the outskirts of a relatively full restaurant, with menus handed to us and orders of Margaritas taken. Myself I went for an Exotic Margarita (the same as above, with a combination of Patron Silver tequila, Cointreau and Monin Pomegranate) whilst my friend enjoyed a rather fancy yet sophisticated looking Tropical Rock (Absolut Raspberri, crème de banana, piña colada mix, pineapple juice and Midori). With big appetites to fill, we opted for the Jumbo Combo to share, which once arrived, wished we’d brought backup! An array of Santa Fe spring rolls, Hickory-smoked chicken wings, onion rings, potato skins and tupelo chicken tenders, all served with ramekins of BBQ, sour, mushroom and blue cheese sauce. Laid out over an oval place, with a sundae bowl in the middle that held the spring rolls amidst lettuce, jalapenos and tomatoes with dollops of cream sauce to mix, the presentation alone was a sight to see. With an atmosphere comprising of a mix of rock and roll and indie tunes, together with families, couples and the odd group of friends, it gave the place a sort of relaxed feel, with no hint of a rush. There were a few customers dotted around in the bar too, with the familiar sound of a cocktail shaker being put to good use on many occasion.
Once we made our way through the platter, our mains arrived, with a good-sized 10oz burger cooked medium rare for myself (you have to applaud a restaurant that asks customers how they would like their burger cooked – a trend that unfortunately doesn’t seem to catch on at others), smothered in Hickory BBQ sauce and caramalised onions and topped with crisp seasoned bacon and melted cheddar cheese. My friend opted for Hard Rock’s Legendary 10oz burger that comprised of two slices of cheddar cheese, onion rings, lettuce, tomato and pickles. With fries on the side of both, and although piping hot throughout, I have to admit we were defeated fair and square. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs this time round! We were given time to ‘attempt’ to finish after a glass of water but it was not to be. And as you can imagine, we laughed with the waiter over his habit of asking if we would like to see the dessert menu.
With no obligation to leave, we finished our drinks and chatted before browsing their Hard Rock store for a memento of the night. A rather snazzy Hard Rock t-shirt bought by myself – well I do already have all the glassware that’s available!
We genuinely had a great experience at Hard Rock Cafe. The food was excellent with great portions, cooked to spec and piping hot, the Margaritas were spot on, and the service we received could not have been faulted. The prices are reasonable too, with the sharing combo £15.95 and both burgers at £13.50. Theres more to offer than sharing platters though, with nachos, chicken wings, potato skins and bruchetta to choose from, before you hit the mains that include BBQ ribs or chicken, club sandwiches and a range of salads and burgers. With kids menus available too, families are welcomed, even at the bar where there is a slimmed down menu to enjoy.
I might try that side out soon, but in the meantime, give Hard Rock Cafe a go, and give me a shout if you see me there!
To check out photos from all my Hard Rock Cafe visits so far, click here.