The first book in the excellent Curious Bartender series by Tristan Stephenson was devoted to the craft of the cocktail, while another is about whiskies and bourbon and there’s also a Curious Barista’s Guide to Coffee. I loved his Gin Palace book, which I read and reviewed recently, and now here’s the latest in the series, The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution. Can the author maintain the high standard?
The answer is yes, and the book is every bit as fascinating and enjoyable as the others in the series. To start with, it’s a handsome hardback of 256 pages, filled with both colour and black and white photos, and maps. They’re the kind of photos that make you want to drink what you see.
It will make a terrific present for any rum lover, including yourself. In fact anyone interested in cocktails, or spirits generally, should take a look. One of the many good things about these books is that they work both as a reference book and an enjoyable read as the author visits some of the world’s greatest rum distilleries.
The author clearly has a love of rum, which is evident from his passionate introduction, as passionate as the taste of rum itself. There follows a history of rum (in which you learn the truth about pirates!), and then a section on how rum is made (in which you learn all about muck and dunder). One of the most interesting bits of that section for me was the part on AOC and rhum agricole. I’d no idea that Martinique has one of the strictest legal classifications of rum – and there are some pretty amazing rums from Martinique. The author points out that on the island itself you can buy a litre of AOC Martinique rhum agricole for about $5. Book your air tickets now!
The biggest section of the book is The Rum Tour, where the author takes us to visit numerous distilleries, from Antigua to Venezuela. For each distillery he selects his choice of their best rums to try, including tasting notes, such as this for Doorly’s 3-year-old from the Foursquare Distillery on Barbados:
I wish I had a palate that was as sensitive as that! Don’t you want to pour yourself a glass?
Most distilleries get a couple of pages each, again with tasty tempting photos of the drinks and people as well as the distilleries themselves. There are famous names like Mount Gay, also on Barbados and the world’s oldest rum distillery, and names that are bound to be new even to rum aficionados. Naturally some of the world’s best rum producers including Guadalupe, Haiti and Martinique, get lengthy sections.
Once you’ve run out and bought yourself some of these rums (if you can get hold of them), you can try making some of the many rum cocktails the author provides recipes for. At the back of the book there are briefer descriptions of rum distilleries outside the main Caribbean/South American rum-producing countries, such as Australia, Fiji, India, Japan, The Netherlands, the UK and the USA.
Buying the Book
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can guarantee you will too. The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution is published by Ryland Peters and Small and costs £16.99 in the UK, $24.95 in the USA, and is available worldwide.