One of the world’s oldest liquors sees a spirited revival in the Islands.
By Aimee Harris
Photo courtesy of Rumfire
The Sheraton Waikiki recently opened RumFire, (photo above) a new bar and grill that offers the largest selection of vintage rums in the U.S. Its menu lists more than 101 brands of rum—80 of which have never been available in Hawai‘i—by country, from Anguila to Venezuela. Mixologist Francesco Lafranconi has created signature drinks, including a cucumber and lavender mojito and deconstructed lava flow, to complement the restaurant’s tapas-style cuisine. We loved the tiny ‘ahi tacos by executive sous chef Colin Hazama and the restaurant's private outdoor fire pits. 952-FIRE, www.rumfirewaikiki.com
With the recent acquisition of a rum-making permit—from sugar cane to molasses to six patented rum flavors—Kauai’s Kilohana Plantation may soon offer a mini-distillery and on-site tasting room to guests.
According to local restaurateur Dave Stewart, “Rum is the new vodka. It’s been neglected for a long time and nobody has adulterated it.” Here’s how local businesses are cashing in on the trend:
One of Hawaii’s recently launched, handcrafted rums is Maui Reserve Gold, produced by Haleakala Distillers, the only active distillery in the Islands. In 2006, the Maui Reserve Gold earned a bronze medal at the Inter-national Cane Spirits Festival Tasting Competition.
The rum’s fresh molasses comes directly from Maui’s Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. Haleakala’s higher elevation requires a longer fermentation period, which allows the yeast to produce alcohol with fewer impurities. Then, the rum is aged in former Jim Beam bourbon casks that mellow the rum’s flavors with notes of butterscotch. 808-280-6822, www.haleakaladistillers.com
If you prefer to shake it up at home, try this recipe for RumFire’s Tradewinds cocktail:
• 1.5 oz. Matusalem Platino • 1 oz. Marie Brizard Watermelon • Splash of Soho Lychee Liqueur • 1 oz. fresh sweet-and-sour
Combine all ingredients into cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain and serve into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cube of watermelon and lemon zest.
As if founding Indigo, Bar 35 and Du Vin weren’t enough, Dave Stewart is already busy with his next venture—La Rhumba, slated to open in summer 2008. The Caribbean restaurant will focus on rum-based drinks, served ’60s style with back-scratchers and other over-the-top garnishes.
“Rum actually makes very nice drinks,” Stewart says. “It’s not like vodka or gin where it’s an acquired taste.”