Drink Recipe: The Southside

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I am a huge fan of Garden & Gun Magazine. Our daughter introduced me to it when she moved to Richmond. They called themselves, “The Soul of the South” and have wonderful articles about all things southern. I got an email from them yesterday and one of the articles was about a drink called a “Southside.”

As anyone who reads this blog or watches the Kentucky Derby knows, the Mint Julep is the official Kentucky Derby drink. Other racing and sporting events have their own individual drinks. In Maryland, steeplechase fans have their mint garnished sipper made from rum – the Southside. I tested the drink last night!

According to the article by CJ Lotz, the Southside was popularized by Baltimore’s Elkridge Club. She interviewed Doug Artwell, the bartender at Blue Pit BBQ & Whiskey in Baltimore, who said, “I discovered that the local variation is predominantly rum in place of gin in most Maryland circles, and then sometimes lemon and lime juice.”

I made our drinks with rum and shared with Lynn and our friend Bob. We found the drink very refreshing. With 2 ounces of white rum in it, if you don’t sip it the rum will sneak up on you. It is very refreshing, very light, and citrusy. Try one on a hot Saturday afternoon. In fact, try one this Saturday afternoon as you watch the Preakness!

Recipe

2 oz. white Rum
1 oz. fresh lemon juice (I used a Meyer lemon from our tree)
¾ oz. simple syrup
1 mint sprig

To make a Southside mix the liquid ingredients together with a few mint leaves.   Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker. Double strain the liquid into a chilled cocktail glass. I used antique champagne glasses which looked very festive. To finish, garnish with a mint sprig.

 

 

Restaurant Review: Hatch (Tustin, CA)

Our adventure started because Lynn and I wanted to see the Batman Lego movie. Lynn had just read the March/April Westways Magazine’s (AAA of California’s magazine) 14th Annual Cheap Eats Dining Review. There was a review of Hatch in Tustin’s Union Market at The District and the movie was showing there as well. Our date was set.

As the article said: “You can’t exactly stumble upon Hatch.” That is an understatement. You have to hunt real hard to find it. But the good news is once you find it you will be charmed by the retro, mid-century Tiki décor, Disneyland-inspired “Enchanted Tiki Room” wallpaper, and cool retro lights. It is small and quaint with only a handful of tables inside plus a bar that seats about 10. There is also outside dining perfect for most nights.

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The menu is quite simple. Their specialty is sliders, but these are not your local sliders. These are gourmet, craft, creative sliders. You can order a combo on the menu of 2 sliders and a side for $14. The menu is creative as the sliders are broken into Moo, Oink, Flap, Swim, and Sprout. There are 3 different sliders in each category.

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The Hatch slider is their signature item. It’s an all-beef patty, fried onions, Hatch sauce, a Portuguese bun, and a slice of crispy grilled cheese hat. It was a fantastic burger, and I am still amazed by that thin sheet of grilled cheese. How did they do that?

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I had a Hatch and a Buffalo Chicken slider. The buffalo chicken is buttermilk fried chicken, parmesan, Sriracha buffalo sauce, with carrots and celery. Both were so different and so flavorful.They also have sliders with Japanese style fried pork, duck, salmon, soft shell crab, oyster, and more. Lynn had the soft shell crab and said it was fantastic.

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They consider themselves a Rum Bar and have the theme oriented glasses. They also have a full bar, wine and beer. I always order a bourbon drink (my name is not Rum or Tequila Bill, its Bourbon Bill). I ordered an Old Fashioned and it was perfect. An Old Fashioned is good with any food. But riven that rum is their specialty, I would suggest you try the house rum drinks. They also have a list of 26 creative and different craft beers.

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I would highly recommend Hatch. We are looking for an excuse to go back very soon. There are also a number of interesting restaurants around Hatch.   Tustin’s Union Market has become a great little destination for dining!

Mount Gay Rum (Barbados)

Back with a review of another rum distillery from our trip to Barbados. I promise Lynn and I relaxed and sat on the beach during our trip to Barbados. But we also packed in some great activities! In addition to our visit to St. Nicholas Abbey (read my review here), we also stopped by Mount Gay Rum’s distillery.

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There are three tours to choose from: their Signature Rum Tour, the Interactive Cocktail Tour, and Bajan Buffet Lunch Tour. We decided to just take the Signature tour. It was most informative, you saw a short film, and did a lot of tasting.

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On the tour you get to try everything but the 1703. Rum, like whiskey, is affected by the time in the barrel. That was something the English learned as they shipped it to England and the rum rocked back and forth for weeks in the barrels on board the ship. They offer a complete selection of rum. They offer the Silver, Eclipse, Black Label, XO, and 1703 Old Cask Selection. We bought a bottle of the Silver to make mojitos when we got back to California, and a bottle of the XO for sipping. Surprisingly, sipping Rum is not much different than whiskey, or bourbon.

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After the tour we got a table on the patio and had a wonderful Mt Gay Silver Rum mojito. They were cooking french fries and they smelled great and I can tell you they were great with a mojito. All the food looked really good but we were not hungry.  The Interactive Cocktail Tour took place in the bar right next to us and out on the patio, so we watched it for a bit while we sipped our mojitos. The class looked like a lot of fun and after watching it I would recommend it.

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A little bit about Mount Gay rum, which I knew nothing about before our visit (mostly pulled from their website)… The Mount Gay Rum story begins in 1703. George Washington spent 6 weeks in Barbados when he was 19 years old. He visited some of the Rum Distilleries and no doubt probably visited Mt Gay. Rum, originally called “Kill-Devil” by the Barbadians who first distilled it, is truly a product of the island with their abundance of molasses combined with their thirst for alcohol lead to this unique discovery in the production of spirits. Sir John Gay was a respected leader and businessman who worked tirelessly in service of the island of Barbados. A friend of Sir John Gay’s, John Sober, inherited a then-unknown distillery and had asked for Sir John’s help in managing it. Sir John Gay took quickly to the business of making rum. He refined the distillation process and began producing a noticeably superior product that we know today as Mount Gay Rum.

Sailing vessels carried exotic trade from the colonies and introduced Caribbean flavors to Europe and the Americas. This period of shipping was an important part of Mount Gay’s Heritage. The Mount Gay Rum Red Cap is a symbol of accomplishment in the sailing community. It can only be worn by sailors who have raced in a Mount Gay sponsored regatta where, upon completion of the course, they are awarded the cap. You can’t buy one in the gift shop, you have to earn it.

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I have never really been a rum drinker and enjoyed my re-introduction to the spirit. I enjoyed our time in Barbados and learning about rum. I will be drinking more rum in the future.

Tasting Rum in Barbados (St. Nicholas Abbey Distillery Tour)

Surprise! Lynn and I were in Barbados last week. We decided to go on a little island vacation this summer and had a great time. Naturally, while there, we had to taste some of the local spirits – rum!

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When in Barbados you must try the Rum. Barbados is famous for its sugarcane and when you are stuck with sugarcane and great limestone filtered water you make RUM.

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Our first stop was St. Nicholas Abbey. What an incredible find. Lynn had read about it and knew we would love it. One flat tire and driving on the left made a little rum welcome by the time we arrived. The home was built in 1658 by Colonel Benjamin Berringer, and it is one of the island’s oldest surviving plantations. The Jacobean style architecture is unusual for a Caribbean home and one of only 3 in the Western Hemisphere. The other 2 are Drax Hall also on Barbados, and Bacon’s Castle in Virginia.

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When you visit St. Nicholas Abbey you get a tour of the home, the boiling house, distillery, and gardens. Part of the tour includes a home movie shot in the c1935 by Charles Cave and gives a glimpse of life on the plantation and the island. The narration is also fun and so British. They serve a wonderful lunch on the terrace. Plan to spend a lot of time there tasting, eating, and touring.

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The current owners are Larry and Anna Warren who bought it in 2006. They bought the property to preserve it as part of the island’s heritage. They have meticulously restored the property with their sons Simon and Shae. It is their mission to develop St. Nicholas Abbey as a heritage attraction, cultural centre, and self supporting plantation. Part of that mission has brought them to develop St. Nicholas Abbey Rum. This will help to sustain the legacy of the plantation. They are also unique in that they use their own sugar cane to make this rum. They also sell brown sugar, molasses, and other homemade products.

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They are making their rum with classic Bajan balance and finesse. It is a great introduction to rum for Cognac, Whiskey, or Bourbon lovers. It has a mellow sweetness having been aged in bourbon barrels. It is a deep amber color with hints of vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon. Sound al little like your favorite Bourbon? As a review of the rum I can say I enjoyed it as much as any excellent bourbon.

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They sell their rum in 3 vintages. When we were there they offered a 5, 12, and 18 year old rum. What they sell on line through a few stores in the UK may have slightly different vintages. Most of their rum is sold right at the abbey. We spent some time with Anna in the bottling and packaging building. Another great old building they had restored. They have one lady who bottles, seals and labels every bottle. They hand bottle about 8,000 bottles a year. It was fascinating talking with Anna. You could sense her passion for the plantation and the rum. She and Larry along with their sons are doing something they love and putting that passion into every bottle. The bottle is a work of art. The bottle is etched with an image of the great house and sealed with a mahogany cork symbolic of the trees on the plantation. The top of the cork has a leather insert, hand stamped logo on the top.

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Everything has been done with style and class. Larry, a renowned architect, and Anna have shown incredible attention to detail.   From their product, to the tour, to the products they sell in their store it’s all first cabin. Even the tour guide’s uniforms reflect their passion to detail. When you go to Barbados you MUST tour St. Nicholas Abbey. You will be impressed with their rum and pleased you took the time to tour the Abbey and a rum distillery.

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