100 Fires – Cienfuegos Rum Spice

When we found out that our long time friend Mayur Subbarao was putting together the program at El Cobre, the showcase rum bar located inside Cienfuegos in New York’s East Village, we immediately asked how we could help.

Though they had Bittermens Bitters already in five of the cocktails on their opening menu, Mayur still had a problem he was looking to solve – selecting the right spiced rum. It’s a particular challenge, as there are very few spiced rums that really work in proper cocktails, as most are overly sweetened and designed for use in highballs. Then it hit us – why use a spiced rum when we could instead build a spiced rum tailored specifically for their needs!

Mayur immediately said that if we were going to do a custom blend, let’s use Banks 5 Island Rum as the base. Now typically, the way to do a spiced rum is to take your spices and let them sit in the rum for weeks, filter it and then you’re done.  The idea of taking weeks to build a rum blend isn’t realistic in a bar setting: either you have to make a tremendous amount in advance, which then needs to be stored somewhere until it’s needed. Then, if you run out, it can be weeks before the next batch is ready. You can accelerate the process a bit by boiling the spices first, but to really extract true flavors, there’s nothing that compares to a slow maceration.

Well, almost nothing.

The French Culinary Institute had written about using nitrous oxide, under significant pressure, to accelerate infusion rates. After reading about their results, we thought that it could be possible to use some variation of this technique to create a concentrated tincture – similar in intensity to our bitters, but without any bittering agents. It took a little bit of time to adapt our standard process, but we finally came up with a method that allowed us to do something better than creating a spiced rum: we created a spiced rum extract. Combined with the Banks 5 Island Rum at a ratio between 6:1 and 8:1, results in a fantastic cocktail-centric spiced rum that can be produced in an hour, is easily stored and most importantly, can be made by bartenders with out the need for any specialized equipment aside from a whipped cream siphon.

You can try the spiced rum at Cienfuegos, at the corner of 6th Street and Avenue A in New York’s East Village in cocktails such as the Club President, listed below.

2 oz Banks 5 Island Rum
1/4 oz Rum Spice Extract
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Dolin Rouge
1/8 oz Maraschino
Dash Angostura

Stir, Strain and serve up in a coupe glass with an orange twist that has been coated with a dash of the Rum Spice Extract

Project: 100 Fires
Concept: Spiced Rum based on Banks 5 Island Rum
Formulated by: Bittermens, Inc.
Produced by: Cienfuegos
License: In-house production solely for on-premise cocktails at Cienfuegos

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