Behind the Scenes at a Barmen's Rum Tasting in Paris
The production of rum is a key activity in many of the Caribbean islands as well as in South America, Guyana and Reunion Island; each country reserves a portion of its production for the preparation of aged rum with demand continually growing in Europe and the United States. Société Perrier chose a few rums from different regions with a variety of characteristics for this tasting session organized at the Splendide Bar at the Park Hyatt Vendôme in Paris. The Park Hyatt bar is unique in Paris in that customers can even prepare their own cocktails. Yann Daniel, head barman, told us how he had recently added to his collection of aged rum, in order to satisfy growing demand from his international business customers. A number of Parisian barmen were invited to the tasting session: Yann Daniel (head barman at the Park Hyatt), Alexandre Perrot (barman at the Park Hyatt), Guillaume Guerbois (barman at the Murano) and Magalie Chalumeaux (barmaid at the Réservoir), as well as Laurent Greco.
Is there a demand for aged rum in your establishment?
Guillaume Guerbois: Despite the Murano bar specializing in vodka, there is a relatively high demand for aged rum, especially as an after-dinner drink.
Yann Daniel: At the Park Hyatt, aged rum is in high demand which is why we decided to increase our choice. It’s a noble product and very much appreciated after a meal. We offer rum from Martinique, Guyana and also Cuba. Each rum is very characteristic of its geographical location; that’s what makes each one so interesting.
Alexandre Perrot: I think the vodka market is saturated, both in terms of demand and the offer. Rum is very popular at the moment and very much in favour with customers who enjoy its distinctive taste. Aged rum is perfectly suited to anyone wishing to experience more typical and refined flavors.
Laurent Greco: Some women also prefer aged rum, in the same way they are growing to like cigars. They often choose rums flavored with spices such as vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg. Aged rum is great as a neat drink or in ti’punch.
Magalie Chalumeaux: Since we introduced Bacardi 8-year-old rum to our menu demand has increased; some customers even ask me to use it in their mojito. It’s true the flavor is completely different, it’s more pronounced than white rum .
How would you suggest these different rums should be served?
Daniel: Rum from Martinique is better neat or on ice, perhaps with a slice of lime and as an after-dinner drink. The flavors of Captain Morgan or Zacapa Centenario are milder and are best used in cocktails with fresh fruits (for example with raspberries). But it would be a shame to drown them in too much fruit juice.
Grecco: Agricultural rum has a very powerful and distinctive flavor which is why we recommend you drink it neat. Personally, I enjoy adding a little water, like whisky, to reduce the volume of alcohol and to bring out the individual flavors. Milder but full-flavored rums such as Bacardi or Captain Morgan can be served as an aperitif, or an after-dinner drink with a slice of lime. They can be used in cocktails too; try a mojito made with Bacardi 8 and let me know what you think!
Chalumeaux: I prefer the spicy flavors of rums such as Zacapa and Captain Morgan that I’d use in cocktails with just one or two ingredients. The hints of vanilla in Captain Morgan are quite unusual. Or I could also suggest using Bacardi 8 as an aperitif in ti’punch or a mojito, or pure as an after-dinner drink. For me, agricultural rum should be enjoyed in its simplest form and after dinner to appreciate the complexity of flavors.
Perrot: Besides Zacapa and Captain Morgan rums, I think agricultural or industrial aged rums should be used as an after-dinner drink, like an eau-de-vie, and that they’re best when used neat.
Images © Loran Dhérines