Wednesday, November 24, 2010

rum scaffa

1 1/2 oz Plantation 5 Year Barbados Rum
1 1/2 oz Cynar
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Stir without ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last Wednesday, Andrea and I went over to Rendezvous to have dinner and cocktails. For my first drink, bartender Scott Holliday wanted to show me one of the simple drinks (number of ingredients-wise) he had been working on. The Scaffa recipe above actually came later, for he served me the cocktail version first:
• 1 1/2 oz Plantation 5 Year Barbados Rum
• 1 1/2 oz Cynar
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist an orange peel over the top.
The spirit plus Cynar essence of this drink reminded me of Aaron Butler's Scottish Play (although Aaron's drink has two addition ingredients as minor components). While I did not ask Aaron's rationale, Scott made the pairing for he liked the rich caramel flavor of the rum and how it emphasizes sweet flavors, so he therefore mixed it with something bitter. Scott's drink started with an orange nose paired with some dark undertones. A rum and caramel sip was followed by a rich and complex swallow. Moreover, the oils from the orange twist contributed a light Lillet-like citrus flavor on the sip. What was most odd was that it tasted drier on the sip and sweeter on the swallow; generally, drinks with bitter liqueurs finish in the opposite direction. Lastly, as the drink warmed up, the Cynar became more dominant in the flavor profile.
Scott mentioned that he enjoyed the initial experiment of mixing the rum and the liqueur at room temperature more than he did in the chilled cocktail itself. At that point, I brought up the Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Night where the theme was Scaffas -- stirred, un-iced cocktails often as simple as a spirit, a liqueur, and a dash of bitters. Scott decided to mix up this cocktail in Scaffa format and pour it into cordial glasses for the three of us to try. Definitely, at room temperature and undiluted, the drink was a different beast. The Rum Scaffa was even more caramel and more intensely Cynar than the ratio of spirit to ice melt would suggest. In addition, the transition from sip to swallow had a better continuity of intensity and flavors, and I believe that all three of us concluded that while the cocktail version was delicious, the Scaffa form was superior.

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