Brugal Rum Throws Bash in Williamsburg, Hates Plastic Cups

This seems like a fun party for Brugal Rum. Glad I got here to King & Grove in Williamsburg before the sky opened up. It’s neat here at Upper Elm, the rooftop bar. The rain is lashing against the clear retractable roof, but there’s still light in the sky, giving the room a funky undersea effect. The DJ’s playing cool music. Here comes Daft Punk’s "Get Lucky." I’ll probably get sick of it at some point but for now I still like it. What’s that on the bar? It’s a clear box filled with red plastic party cups, the kind I used to drink cheap beer out of in college. It says "THE RUM THAT ISN’T FOR POURING INTO PLASTIC." I think I get it. Some people have only had rum the cheap way, with cloyingly sweet mixers. Brugal Especial Extra Dry rum is more refined, more sophisticated. It deserves to be served in proper glassware. Alright, let me try one of those cocktails they’re calling The Rivalry. Great, thank you. Hey, this glass feels lighter than usual. Wait a second, this isn’t a glass at all, it’s made out of plastic. What’s going on here? What am I supposed to think?

The party organizers probably didn’t realize that every rooftop bar in New York has to use plastic "glasses" these days in case some idiot chucks one over the railing. I’ve even had a martini in a plastic martini glass at Gansevoort Park Rooftop. Funny thing is they really don’t bother me, I kind of like them.

And Brugal’s point about plastic isn’t lost on me, just a little funny, considering every cocktail in this room is served in plastic. I’ve long felt that rum deserves more respect than it gets. Yes, a rum-and-Coke is a beautiful thing, but today’s best rums can stand on their own, and don’t need to hide in some sweet artificial neon-colored frankenpunch.

This Brugal right here can be sipped neat, or served on the rocks, or with a splash of club soda. It has that nice body that comes from the sugarcane it’s made with (well, the molasses that comes from the sugarcane), but it’s drier than most rums. I like that.

The older I get, the less I want sweet drinks. But I still like a good party, and this Rivalry I’m drinking is tasty. It’s the creation of bartender Danny Neff of Boulton & Watt, and has Brugal Extra Dry rum, apricot brandy, mango puree, lemon juice, tonic, and an orange twist. It’s not not sweet, but it’s definitely not one of those tooth-cracking sugar blasts that they serve–in plastic cups–at cheap beach resorts. It’s balanced. It’s grown-up. And it’s fun. 

Okay, Brugal, I’ll tease you about your wobbly stance on plastic cups, but you make a fine rum. ¡Salud!

Plastic Glass

 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for King & Grove Williamsburg, Boulton & Watt; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

A Supreme Stash of Winter Spirits

Who needs central heating when you can blow your bonus on premium spirits that will have you feeling toasty inside and out? Here’s a baker’s dozen that will keep you warm and happy until the first buds of spring appear.

I don’t normally love holiday beers – enough with the cloves already – but Samuel Adams Griffin’s Bow Ale ($7) hits all the right citrus and floral notes. To really get in the spirit, pop a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage 2004 ($75). It’s crisp and balanced with hints of pear and that austere oaky note common to vintage champagnes.

Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey ($32) has complex notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel. It’s a tough southern boy dressed in his Sunday best. Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($35) is earthy and warm, with a whisper of orange and a nice kick. Let the ice melt for five minutes and it’s heaven. I love the new Johnnie Walker Double Black Blended Scotch Whisky ($40), from its gorgeous amber color to its woody aroma to its vanilla and honey notes. A peppermint nip mellows its peaty undertones.

Winter’s a wonderful time for dark rum, and Bacardi Reserva Limitada ($110) is one of the best, with a smoky bouquet, vanilla and coconut flavors, and subtle sugars that tickle the tip of the tongue. The new Brugal 1888 ($50) is a delightfully smooth rum, with a flawless balance of oaky and sweet. The even newer DonQ Gran Añejo ($60) is a fun rum, sharp and spicy at first, then mellow and sweet.

Vodka knows no season, but Stoli Chocolat Razberi ($24) seems perfect for a snowy night. It smells like Cream Savers and tastes like a fancy box of chocolates. The interplay between flavors makes it quite sexy – put a glass on your nightstand. I wasn’t sure I’d like Patrón XO Cafe ($25), but I do, a lot. Its aroma alone perks you up, and the agave flavor of the tequila melds surprisingly well with the coffee. I’d want this in my rucksack during a cold night in the Sierra Madres.  

Moving up the sweet scale, the new Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice ($20) is everything it should be. The cinnamon knows its boundaries, and the sweet coffee flavor massages the palate. Baileys Irish Cream ($21) has always had a light touch. You can taste the whiskey, but the creaminess makes it the smoothest dram you’ll ever sip. Finally, when you’re really ready to indulge, open a bottle of Godiva Original Chocolate Liqueur ($30). It has a velvety texture and it’s as chocolatey as you’d ever want it to be, yet balanced enough to not be cloying. It’s delicious chilled, mixed in a cocktail, or even poured over ice cream. Feeling cozy yet?