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Six Rum-derful facts about Rum!

We keep hearing rumours that rum is destined to become the ‘new gin’ so with that in mind we decided to look into the history of rum, one the worlds most popular drinks on #NationalRumDay. Here are six rum-derful facts you may not have known before!

1. Rum is made from sugarcane by-products – either molasses or sugarcane juice is fermented and distilled to produce a clear spirit. This is then aged in oak barrels according to the manufacturers specifications and recipe.

2. The primary ingredient sugarcane, is a grass of the genus Saccharum. Rums produced from fresh pressed sugarcane juice make up only 3% of all rums, whilst those produced using molasses account for the remaining 97%!

3. After Saccharum’s usefulness (and deliciousness!) was discovered, sugarcane went from being an unknown wild species of grass to the world’s largest cultivated crop.

4. Rum’s history is a chequered and often sad one and to talk of its wonders without acknowledging this would be remiss. As the popularity of rum increased in the 1600’s, more and more plantations were needed. These sugar plantations were supported by a slave-based economy, with people kept as slaves living in wretched conditions with no control over their own lives. Thankfully today’s rum manufacturers are acknowledged for their socially conscious approach.

5. It’s hard to think of rum without envisaging creaking ancient Tall Ships cutting their way across the Atlantic. Rum’s popularity even reached Royal Navy sailors who were supplied rum rations to their crew by the tot (about 70ml of 95.5% Rum!) each midday.

6. Sailing superstition meant glasses were never ‘clinked’ onboard the ship as the sound of ringing glass spelled death for a sailor, and worse the Devil himself would take two sailors if the ringing sound were stopped. Additionally the tot glasses were only washed on the outside as it was believed the lingering rum residue would serve to make the drink stronger. Whilst we no longer believe clinking glasses heralds death, should you be unfortunate enough to chip the rim of your Cumbria Crystal glasses we are often able to repair it – potentially saving you from an unpleasant fate!

Modern rum consumption is broken into two main camps with white or silver rums tending to be used for making cocktails and dark, golden or spiced rums being enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a mixer. We like ours aged, served over ice; poured from a cut crystal decanter into a beautiful hand-made Cumbria Crystal tumbler or alternatively whizzed up into an all singing all dancing Pina Colada. You can find the definitive recipe for this in our last blog here.

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6 surprising Pina Colada facts and the definitive recipe

If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain (and even if you don’t) then you’ll love our 6 lesser known facts about this wonderfully uplifting drink. Join us as we celebrate National Pina Colada Day!

Pina Colada
Classic Pina Colada served in Cumbria Crystal Lyre Highball

1. It is thought the Pina Colada was being drunk as far back as the 1800’s, and by pirates no less. Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí used the pineapple, coconut and rum cocktail to lift the spirits of his crew. Sadly this original version of the recipe was lost after Roberto’s death in 1825 but we’re guessing it was pretty rum heavy.

2. It wasn’t until 1954 that the drink was brought back to life, Bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero is now cited as the drinks official inventor. Ramon worked on the definitive recipe for months in an attempt to encapsulate the essence of Puerto Rico before settling on the Pina Colada.

3. Ramon served the drink for 35 years at the Caribe Hilton before The Pina Colada was officially made the national drink of Puerto Rico in 1978.

4. Rupert Holmes who penned the famous song Escape (The Pina Colada Song) doesn’t like the cocktail, saying it tastes medicinal. He’s wrong. It’s delicious!

5. The famous line originally said ‘if you like Humphrey Bogart’ but was replaced with the “first exotic drink” Rupert could think of.

6. Originally titled ‘Escape’ initial sales of the record were slow as despite its popularity people called it by the name of the cocktail. Reluctantly Rupert Holmes agreed to change the name to Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and the record went straight to number 1.

It wouldn’t be fair to whet your appetite for the drink without giving you the recipe. The below is the official Caribe Hilton recipe. We’ve served it in our Lyre range which was especially created for the modern cocktail drinker and maker.

Pina Colada Recipe

60ml rum

30ml coconut cream

30ml double cream

175ml fresh pineapple juice

¼ pint of crushed ice

Method

Mix rum, cream of coconut, double cream and pineapple juice in a blender. Add ice and stir for 15 seconds. Serve in a 12oz glass and garnish with fresh pineapple and a cherry.

The very fact the Pina Colada warrants a ‘national day’ highlights the resurgence of the cocktail in recent years. Mixologists are constantly driving forward new recipes and adding increasingly dramatic effects to their drinks. Despite this innovation some cocktails are still included on menus around the globe and the Pina Colada remains a tropical favourite. Enjoy yours!

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Our 3 favourite unexpected martini facts, and the best way to drink it!

Grasmere Martini Glass, Sipsmith Gin, Martini Extra Dry

It’s #nationalmartiniday and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate this wonderful drink than by drinking it!

Before we share our classic recipe here are our three favourite facts about one of the worlds best loved boozy drinks:

Grasmere Cocktail Glass, Martini, Sipsmith Gin, Gin, Cocktail Shaker, Martini1. The martini glass pre-dates the drink itself. Previously known simply as a cocktail glass, the prerequisites for any good cocktail glass are to have a long stem to avoid affecting the temperature of the aromatic elixir within and to have a inverted conical bowl. Originally cocktail glasses were made from high-quality lead crystal and held around 13 cl of liquid. With the rise of mechanical glass-making the cocktail glass can now be bought in a variety of sizes and shapes. Luxury lead hand-blown crystal is still made today, but is sadly a dying art. We are in fact the last manufacturers of hand-blown, hand-cut luxury lead crystal in Britain, so thankfully you can still observe the tradition. You can bring your collection up to date with our Boogie Woogie range, which was created with mixology in mind!

2. Famous martini lovers have included Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and of course…Cumbria Crystal’s number one fan…James Bond. This celebrity endorsement helped cement the cocktail’s reputation and it has never left the cocktail menu since. Variations on the classic gin and vermouth cocktail include a dirty martini, where olive brine is introduced, but no variations have the same gravitas as James Bond’s ubiquitous ‘shaken not stirred’ instructions. However you like yours is fine by us though as we aren’t quite so strict as 007!

3. Vermouth the undisputed alchemist in the martini is the gin of the wine world. Flavoured with botanicals such as bark, herbs, seeds and spices additional alcohol (often grape brandy) is added to the neutral wine before the fermentation process begins, it is then sweetened afterwards to varying degrees. Each vermouth has its own closely guarded secret recipe of botanicals to be included. At one stage vermouth was thought to be medicinal and was prescribed liberally as a tonic to cure a variety of ailments, perhaps not so surprising given its aromatic herby flavour.

Here is our favourite take on 007s favourite tipple, which simply must be served in a Grasmere martini glass (also 007’s favourite range judging by his partiality to them in Casino Royale)  – a fool proof (with a very high % proof!) cocktail recipe for you to enjoy.

You will need

A quality martini glass (see our range here!)

5 parts Sipsmith gin

1 part Vermouth (we love Martini – Extra Dry)

Green olive (in brine not oil) – Or Lemon rind

1. Chill your Grasmere martini glass. Our lead crystal glasses can be chilled in the fridge or if you just can’t wait fill it and gently swill it full of ice

2. Generously fill a shaker or tall separate glass with large ice cubes

3. Pour over the Vermouth

4. Pour in the gin…hurrah! Gin!

5. Shake it or stir it with a tall spoon, contrary to Mr Bond’s instructions we don’t think it matters too much

6. Pour it into your empty chilled Grasmere martini glass

7. Garnish with an olive or twist your lemon slice in to release the oils

8. Drink it. Actually – sip it. It’s strong!

9. Enjoy the slightly warm giggly feeling

10. Make another

Sadly the history of the martini’s invention has been claimed by so many people that it’s unclear who invented this delightfully uplifting drink but we thank whoever they were from the bottom of our glass! Can’t wait until next year!