From Yucatan’s cenotes to Louisiana’s Bayou, we explore the world for some heady cocktails and a jeweled champagne that this summer deserves.
By: Isabelle Kellogg
Posted on: May 3, 2023
As days get longer and weather gets warmer, cocktail culture comes into high gear. We recently received some new-to-market spirits and liqueurs to sample, ranging from dark rum to citrus-infused tequila and French apple brandy. The cocktail shaker and bar cart was ready in short order.
Let’s set up for the first cocktail. Dark rum usually calls to mind a Caribbean island vacation where rum drinks – such as Martinique’s national cocktail called “Ti' Punch” – is drunk daily. Ti’ Punch (Creole slang for a ‘tiny’ punch) is made with the island’s rhum agricole, lime juice and a splash of cane syrup, served with or without ice cubes. Stateside, a company called Bayou, based in Louisiana and inspired by the Caribbean’s Creole roots (rum made with sugarcane), offers Bayou Select, a premium dark rum made with Mississippi sugarcane and aged for three years in American Oak ex-bourbon barrels. The company refers to this as a rum for bourbon drinkers and it’s wonderful for mixing or sipping as is. Master Distiller Reiniel Vicente says that the Bayou’s waters create a unique humid climate for the rum to age more gently, giving a less woody flavor than Caribbean rums.
Calvados, a French apple-based spirit, is often overshadowed by the country’s more famous grape-based spirits, cognac, and Armagnac. Made only in the region of Normandy, Calvados is often considered as a single shot spirit, but the subtle apple flavor gives cocktails additional depth. Founded in 1820 by Pierre-August Boulard, Calvados Boulard VSOP remains a super-premium Calvados made with more than 120 varieties of apples from 800 varieties grown on the company’s apple orchards. A refreshing cocktail pairs Boulard Calvados with a sprinkling of brown sugar, lime juice, a dash of bitters, fresh mint and ginger beer over ice.
Cenote Green Orange Tequila from the Yucatan region of Mexico is perfect for margaritas and can also be used as a substitute for cocktails with orange liqueur. The extravagantly designed bottle with its hand-painted label and lever-pull top is worth displaying on anyone’s bar cart. The bright orange liqueur is a blend of 100% blue agave tequila, spring water from the base of the Jalisco volcano and macerated green orange peels which give off a hypnotizing citrusy aroma. Green oranges can have green skins when they’re grown in Mexico but are the same as “orange” skin oranges in terms of flavor.
Attention, single malt fans. Smokehead Tequila Cask Terminado is a new single malt Scotch whisky from Islay with an inventive twist. The distillers of Smokehead use ex-Bourbon barrels and finishes in Mexican Tequila oak casks for a complex taste of toasted almonds, citrus and burnt sugar. As Cinco de Mayo approaches, try it in this refreshing cocktail, called Palominado, with grapefruit juice, lime juice, agave syrup (simple syrup will suffice), a splash of grapefruit soda (suggest Fever Tree’s Sparkling Pink Grapefruit), mixed together and poured over crushed ice in a highball.
Sometimes, an ice-cold bottle of Champagne is a spot-on substitute for a cocktail. We’d like to draw your attention to a unique collaboration between Champagne Château de Bligny, a French grower of Champagne grapes, and Theo Fabergé, the late grandson of master jeweler Carl Fabergé whose name is associated with the elaborate high jewelry Easter eggs. Inspired by Theo Fabergé’s 100th anniversary, Champagne Château de Bligny decided to create its first ever vintage Champagne from its estate in a gift set with a “Champagne Egg Creation”. The elaborate coaster is hand-crafted from the jeweler’s archival drawings, and holds the Champagne’s limited 2013 vintage bottle called “Clos du Château”, which is a blend of six grape varieties grown on a ‘clos’, or walled vineyard, on the property. This special work of art pays tribute to Theo Fabergé’s legacy combined with his love of Champagne. So celebrate this much-awaited summer with these extravagant sips!
In addition to a career in communications and marketing focused on the luxury lifestyle sector, including co-authoring and lecturing a case study on French heritage jeweler Mauboussin with Harvard Business School, Isabelle continues to share her experiences about fine art, wine, travel, jewelry and culture as a freelance writer for internationally based digital publications.