With London Cocktail Week in full flow we were privileged to have been present in the Ron Zacapa tasting session at the amazing Bam Bou restaurant (if you haven’t been you will want to by the end of this)
The session was hosted by none other than Daniel Dove who is the UK ambassador of Ron Zacapa. (yep he gets paid to talk about rum)
After a brief introduction from Daniel we were treated to a specially made video from Lorena Vasquez who is the master Blender of Ron Zacapa. In the video she wished me all the best (maybe not me directly but I can dream) and welcomed us to the food pairing with Ron Zacapa. Daniel then went on to give us the history of the rum including how the 23 came to be.
Turns out in 1976 Ron Zacapa was born and the straw band you find around each bottle has been hand made by the ladies of Guatemala.
Daniel then went on to tell us about how the rum is aged at 17 degrees which is a temperature in between most rums and whiskies which gives Zacapa its distinctive taste.
To kick things off we sampled the 23 year old and were given a breakdown of flavour and how the flavours made their way into that bottle.
Then the XO came out. No I don’t mean a kiss & hug, although from the quality of the rum you would think someone was hugging my insides from the quality of it. The taste was smooth and what I would like to think was perfect to match with a cigar. (pairing review coming soon)
Now the best part… rum infused food!
To start we were treated to Bam Bou Sticky Pork with Seared Scallop. A succulent piece of pork belly marinated with lemongrass, garlic, coriander root, light soy sauce and sugar, steamed until tender and then deep fried until crisp.
The pork is then coated with a sticky sauce made with palm sugar, fish sauce, garlic, white peppercorns, dried orange peel, Zacapa Rum and star anise.
To top it off it is then coated in sesame seeds and served with a seared scallop and star anise powder.
This was probably some of the best pork I could ever have eaten (enough to make Bin Laden renounce Islam and go on a bender)
What Daniel noted to us was that when cooking with rum (has to be Ron Zacapa) you would need to use about 90% more as most of it will evaporate with heat.
The pork Belly was served upon a plate which had been specially created to hold dry ice below your drink to give the illusion you was above the clouds and after a few sips I certainly was.
The paired drink was an East Island Cocktail consisting of Zacapa 23, Umeshu, dry vermouth, Grapefruit bitters, Orange zest served with grapefruit and lime aroma (dry ice) and it complemented the flavours immensely.
As we tucked in Daniel explained the proceed of matching and contrasting flavours and how to create the perfect pairing (CTC dinner party incoming)
While we tried to hold on to the flavour in our mouth as long as possible it was time for 2nd course.
White Chocolate, Zacapa Rum and Coconut Truffles was on the menu and it was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was invited. The soft white chocolate truffles were made with coconut, white chocolate, Zacapa Rum, egg, butter and vanilla. Coated with grated coconut.
Not usually being a fan of coconut I was a bit hesitant that I would enjoy this but the flavours just worked and I found myself wanting to lick the bowl (classy I know)
To wash this down we were given an Estos Ceilos Cocktail served with orange and vanilla aroma (via the dry ice)
The cocktail was made up of Zacapa 23, Orange and Lime juice, Cherry Heering, Sugar, dried orange & cherry infused with Zacapa which was phenomenal.
We were told that the Cherry’s had been sitting in Ron Zacapa and various spices for the last 2 months and once served, they still tasted as fresh as the day they were picked but packed an awesome flavour of Zacapa and spices.
We could have sat there all night drinking/ eating Ron Zacapa and listening to Daniel’s stories about the history of Ron Zacapa and Guatemala, however it was time to say goodbye and float all the way home feeling ‘above the clouds’ with a mouthful of flavours (not before quickly ordering a bottle online to marinate cherries with)
London Cocktail Week is running all week and if you are lucky there may be some more Ron Zacapa pairing events, if not I would strongly recommend trying it out.
Ron Zacapa will also be at Rumfest this weekend if you fancy sampling some of the fantastic rum they make
Rum and food – is there anything else worth living for?