When I eventually arrived, we were guided to a secluded area of the bar. The dim lighting created an intimate atmosphere. Tables were adorned with candles balancing on leather bound books. Elizabethan and Victorian style portraits hung on the walls, as if we were viewing a family history in pictures; only this family had the heads of various animals attached to their human portraits. The quirky décor gave the impression that the place had been furnished with a mixture of antiques and stuff from Urban Outfitters.
However, this night was primarily about drinking. First I need to tell you about the art of tasting Mount Gay Black Barrel rum. It is a serious business. Miguel, the charming Mount Gay ambassador, claimed that “people often say rum tastes better with me”. He told us to examine the rum, to smell it and, of course, to taste it. When smelling the rum we were told that we should be able to pick up notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, caramel and peppers. All I smelled was rum. We were encouraged to take a small sip at first, which had a sweet after taste. On the second sip I experienced more of a spicy tingle, and the third sip left a smoky flavour. This was an important process, said Miguel, because apparently “the tongue doesn’t lie, the mouth does”.
As a rum novice, I thought it was a novel way to drink a spirit I don’t usually choose to drink on its own. I would definitely favour this brand above the Sainsbury’s basic that my student budget stretches to. But, now for the cocktails:
This was given to us on arrival. It was a sweet mixture of rum, vermouth, angostura bitters and lemon juice, elaborately garnished with blackberries, lemon rind and a sugar coated rim. It was a bit cumbersome to drink, but worth the effort. A perfect balance between sharp and sweet, I could have happily put away many more of these beauties if I had properly lined my stomach.
Earl of Grey
This was mixture of the Mount Gay Black Barrel, Jägermeister, sherry, Crème de Mure and some actual Earl Grey tea. It had a smoky flavour with a slight sweet lift. I’m a fan of an Earl Grey, whereas my friend, a seasoned rum drinker, found it overpowering. The drink’s sponsor told me it is meant to prepare your mouth for a big meal by making you hungry. All in all, this was a strong drink that made me ready for more.
The Long Walk
The inventor of this drink told us that it was inspired by a walk on a Caribbean beach to find some coconut water. It was another strong brew, made from the signature rum, vermouth, sherry and coconut milk. It was sharp and certainly felt as if it was meant to be drunk after a long walk, or a long day. For me it was bit too sharp and I couldn’t really taste the coconut water. If I were to order this again I might ask for a bit of soda water - but I don’t have the strongest of stomachs, or livers.
All of these beverages are on the Maven’s new menu