Stir Up Some Spicy-Sweet Vizcaya Grog For Black Tot Day

Tomorrow is Black Tot Day—the anniversary of a dark day on the seas, when the British Navy ceased issuance of a daily rum ration to its sailors—and in honor of those brave seafaring men for whom a glass of grog was a welcome interruption of the nautical routine, we’ve got a recipe for you.

Grog began as a way to make more palatable the watered-down rum that Naval bigwigs ordered as a preventative against drunkenness.  Because water on board ship was often foul, a mixture of citrus, sugar and spices was added to the drink. The use of lime or lemon not only helped flavor standard-issue rum drinks, it also helped stave off scurvy. Modern men and women who partake of grog, however, do so because it’s a tasty way to enjoy Vizcaya VXOP, as a novel change of pace from taking the ultimate sipping rum neat or on the rocks.

There are nearly as many recipes for grog as there are tales o’ the sea. We present to you a basic template, which we hope you’ll experiment with and make your own. The proportions of this recipe closely follow those of the original Naval grog, and acidic lime juice brightens all of its flavors. While the spices will help illuminate the underlying complexity of the Vizcaya, feel free to eliminate them or to experiment with other garnishes.

Sweet and Spicy Vizcaya VXOP Grog

2 oz. Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Rum
1 T lime juice
1 T simple syrup or demerara sugar
6-8 oz water, depending on taste
pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon or black pepper

Stir all ingredients together in a highball glass. If you like, enjoy with the traditional Saturday toast of the Royal Navy: “Here’s to wives and sweethearts—may they never meet!”

Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 1:19 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Commemorate Black Tot Day with Vizcaya VXOP

This Saturday, rum lovers across the globe will raise a glass of their favorite spirit in tribute to a sober anniversary: Black Tot Day.

It was 40 years ago, on July 31st, 1970, that the British Royal Navy discontinued its centuries-old policy of issuing a daily rum ration to sailors. The practice of handing out rum to naval crewmembers was first begun in 1655, becoming standard practice by 1731. Originally, beer was the ration of choice—a gallon a day, according to historical records—but cargo and spoilage issues soon made this impractical on increasingly long voyages. After the British conquest of Jamaica, sailors were given a “gill” or quarter-pint of straight rum, twice a day, in the afternoon and evening, in order to buoy their moods on the long, disheartening journeys.

Canny sailors, however, began to save up their rations, or “tots,” as they were called, in order to drink them all at once and feel the intoxicating effects. In response, Admiral Edward Vernon, who was known by the nickname “Old Grog” because he wore a grogram cloak, ordered in 1740 that the ration be diluted—four parts water to one part alcohol. Sugar and lime were added to improve the flavor, and the resultant mixture soon became known as “grog” as a backhanded tribute to the admiral.

The tot was valued on board ships not only for its own sake, but because it could be bartered or given to other sailors, operating as a form of currency. In fact, the tot was probably more valuable than money, as there was nowhere on ship to spend real currency, while tots were always useful. In true military spirit, a solemn and elaborate ritual sprang up around the issuing of tots. The boatswain’s mate whistled “Up spirits” at 11:00am, after which a procession consisting of the petty officer, the cooper and a detachment of Royal Marines escorted the delivery of the keg of rum to the quarterdeck. There, it was mixed with the water and flavorings before being doled out at noon, when the mate piped “Muster for rum.”

Rum was named the official beverage of the Navy in 1831. Although the portions of the tot varied, the tradition continued for over a century, until the House of Commons ruled in 1970 that the ration was interfering with sailors’ ability to operate the increasingly technological and complex equipment on board ship. Officially abolished in 1970, the tot has nevertheless been celebrated and commemorated by rum enthusiasts and former sailors the world over, typically on July 31st. It is said that on the original Black Tot Day, some ships conducted ceremonies to say farewell to the ration, including one held on the HMS Dolphin that included a coffin and a funereal march; others threw their final ration overboard, either in protest or as an offering to the sea.

Whether you want to protest the discontinuance of the charming, cheerful ritual that accompanied the daily tot, or you would rather see Black Tot Day as a time to salute the generations of rum drinkers who have enjoyed this noble spirit both at sea and on land, do raise your glass of Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum this Saturday. Be it in commemoration or celebration—cheers.

Published in: on July 29, 2010 at 9:59 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The Past, Present and Future of Rum: Vizcaya VXOP and Smuggler’s Cove

Celebrating the past, present and future of rum, Smuggler’s Cove rum bar in San Francisco offers a selection of premium rums and rum-based cocktails, including Vizcaya VXOP, the ultimate sipping rum.

Smuggler’s Cove offers “traditional drinks of the Caribbean islands, classic libations of Prohibition-era Havana, and exotic cocktails from legendary tiki bars” in a venue that is reminiscent of historic tiki bars and that also prides itself on nautical décor. When you step into the venue, located at Gough and McAllister Streets, you’ll immediately feel the spirit of the islands, the sea, and the people who have inhabited them throughout the ages.

Of course, Smuggler’s Cove wouldn’t be worth its salt if it didn’t offer an extensive list of premium rums, and it does just that. Try a rum flight or, if you’re truly a connoisseur, ask the bartender for a scorecard. You can keep track of all of the rums and cocktails you’ve tried, and when you’ve worked your way through the menu, you’ll receive an exclusive gift and merit badge—and have your name added to the Smuggler’s Cove Manifest. Another nice touch that the rum bar’s owner, Martin Cate, provides is a tasting notes section of the website, where rum lovers can view the truly spectacular menu and make their own notes as they experiment.

With capacity for only 49 people, Smuggler’s Cove is an intimate experience. The bartenders and mixologists who are here to serve you will take their time crafting a premium cocktail for you, whether you choose one of their specialties from the menu, or give them a little more leeway in making your drink. This is a place to gather with a few good friends, sip a cocktail and enjoy a spirited conversation.

Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum, which prides itself on a robust, complex palate of flavors—including allspice, clove, nutmeg, butterscotch, vanilla and honey—is, similarly, a drink that is best enjoyed when you have a little leisure to fully appreciate its nuances. Smooth, sippable and even sultry, Vizcaya is the ultimate sipping rum and one that will conjure up the remarkable qualities of a traditional, handcrafted Cuban-style rum.

We’re proud that Vizcaya VXOP is among the offerings at Smuggler’s Cove, and invite you to indulge in a cocktail made with this premium rum, or to savor a glass neat or on the rocks, in the remarkable seafaring atmosphere of Smuggler’s Cove the next time you’re in San Francisco.

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 10:22 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Vizcaya VXOP and Dominos At Philly’s Rum Bar

Let’s face it: when you think of rum, Philadelphia is not the first location to come to mind. The owner and mixologist behind Rum Bar, however, wants to change that.

Adam Kanter has painstakingly crafted a rum list and cocktail menu to showcase a variety of rums, including the ultimate sipping rum, Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21. Rum Bar, which is located conveniently just off Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square Park, is a cozy yet not overly intimate setting in which to sip a glass of Vizcaya and perhaps indulge in a small plate or two from the restaurant’s island-inspired menu. After all, who could resist an order of jerk chicken wings, Jamaican beef patties, or ahi tuna tacos with pineapple slaw, pico de gallo and sweet avocado sauce?

Don’t let the delectable food offerings fool you, however; this is a serious rum bar, with a collection of over 140 rums and a cocktail menu designed to showcase them. The knowledgeable bartenders at Rum Bar will mix you up something familiar—a mojito or Mai Tai made high-end by the addition of Vizcaya—or something a little more esoteric. How does a creole daiquiri or a cucumber-rum sour sound? And should your companion be less of a rum enthusiast than you, there’s also a unique selection of South American wines.

Rum Bar features live music, ranging from samba to calypso to rock, every Saturday night, as well as rum flights, and drink and food specials that differ each day. Perhaps most notable among their special events, however, are their Save the Daiquiri Wednesdays, in which the bartenders will craft authentic daiquiris for half price, while patrons can enjoy a spirited game of dominos and the laid-back sounds of live reggae music.

The ambiance at Rum Bar is lush, warm and inviting—much like the experience of sipping Vizcaya VXOP. So the next time you’re in Philly and want to talk rum or enjoy some good company while drinking great Cuban-style Vizcaya VXOP rum, stop in to the Rum Bar Lounge and Restaurant.

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 1:03 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Pairing Vizcaya VXOP with Food

It’s not difficult to enjoy Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum—really, all you need is a glass and maybe a few ice cubes. Rum drinkers who like to gild the lily pair Vizcaya with a premium cigar for the ultimate exercise in relaxation.

And then there are those epicurean adventurers who relish the challenge of pairing fine spirits with gourmet food.  A truly inspired match of delicious food and rum will bring out the most vibrant flavors of both—and will make your tasting party a gastronomical event to remember.

The most natural pairing for Vizcaya VXOP, with its complex notes of cloves, cardamom and pepper, may be tropical food—coconut-crusted shrimp, pineapple salsa, jerk chicken or pork, mesquite-grilled fish, sweet potatoes or fried plantains. Don’t be afraid to add some heat, either, as the robust and sweet character of Vizcaya will stand up to spicy habaneros or other fiery peppers, and even temper their fire somewhat.

A similar, yet slightly less expected cuisine to try matching with Vizcaya is southern American barbecue. Slather your next rack of grilled ribs with a peach-chipotle glaze and pour a glass of Vizcaya to go with it. You may find that the smooth, dark sugar tones of the ultimate sipping rum are a natural companion to the unctuous, flavorful pork. Creole and cajun foods like jambalaya, etouffee and blackened meats, when paired with rhum agricole, will also provide the perfect balance of heat and sweet.

Any cuisine that makes use of lime juice would also be an excellent candidate as a companion to Vizcaya VXOP. Spicy Thai food, with coconut, lime and ginger flavors, may not be the first food you’d think to pair with rum, but it’s a surprisingly good marriage.

Don’t forget about dessert! Coconut ice cream with rum-glazed pineapple, a tropical fruit salad featuring mango and papaya with a lime vinaigrette, or even an old classic like pineapple upside-down cake are great partners for Vizcaya. Lastly, experiment with sipping your Vizcaya while nibbling a few pieces of fine dark chocolate—each are complex, intense, with nuances of coffee, butterscotch, allspice and vanilla.

Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Cuban-style rum is a winner right out of the bottle, but we encourage you to experiment with rum and food. You might discover a delicious new combination—and if you do, we’d love to hear about it!

Published in: on July 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Vizcaya VXOP Helps You Stock Your Home Bar

A well-stocked bar is an absolute must-have for the spirits aficionado. Having the proper tools to craft a cocktail—or even just the right sort of glass for drinking your Vizcaya VXOP in cocktails or on the rocks—will complement your entertaining experience. Whether you have a dedicated room in your home as your bar, or simply a bar cart in the living room from which to serve yourself and your guests, it’s important to make sure you have supplies on hand before you need them.

So what should the well-stocked bar include? Obviously, you’ll want to keep the ingredients for a variety of cocktails on hand:

A selection of premium liquor, including a few bottles of Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Cuban-style rum
Standard mixers–club soda, tonic water, sodas, fresh and canned juices, Grenadine and bitters
Garnishes—olives, citrus wedges, cocktail onions, cherries or other fruit

Besides liquor and mixes, you will want to ensure that you have the proper glassware and mixology tools:

Shot glasses, which can double as a jigger
Tall and short rocks glasses
Champagne flutes
Wine glasses for both red and white wines
Pint or pilsner glasses
Martini glasses
Wine opener
Bottle stoppers/pourers
Cocktail shaker
Bar towels
Cutting board and knife for preparing garnishes

Don’t forget the little touches such as straws, stir sticks, cocktail picks, napkins and coasters. If you or your guests are cigar smokers, you should have cigar cutters, lighters and ashtrays close at hand. Having these items readily available for your guests can truly make the difference between a sophisticated, elegant home-bar experience and one that is sub-par.

Since many fans of Vizcaya VXOP enjoy our premium sipping rum either neat or on the rocks, we’re sometimes asked what the ideal glassware for Vizcaya would be. Our recommendation is a brandy snifter if you like the rum neat—in order to fully appreciate its spicy, aromatic nose—or a rocks or highball glass if you like it slightly chilled by a few ice cubes. Yet there’s no wrong way to enjoy the lush, delectable flavors of this Cuban-style rhum agricole, so don’t stress over it. Just pour yourself a glass of Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 and—most importantly—enjoy.

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 11:41 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Vizcaya VXOP: It’s Not Just For Drinking Anymore

Of course you love to sip a glass of Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum on its own, with a cigar, or as a digestif after dinner, but did you ever think about using it to create a unique and delicious dessert?

With its delicate sweetness and aromas of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla and spice, Vizcaya is the perfect way to add sophistication to pound cake. Top it off with an easy-to-make cream cheese and coconut frosting, and you have an elegant, simple dessert that would be ideal to take to a Fourth of July party this weekend.

Feeling extra decadent? Pair a slice of this divine cake with a ring of grilled pineapple, and pour a glass of Vizcaya to accompany it. Enjoy!

Vizcaya VXOP Rum Cake with Cream Cheese and Coconut Frosting

1 bakery pound cake
1 ½ c. Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Rum
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
¼ c. butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 c. sweetened flaked coconut, divided

Unwrap the cake and place it in a large, shallow baking dish. Pour the Vizcaya into the dish, taking care not to pour it over the cake, and let the cake sit until it has absorbed all of the rum.

Make frosting:

Combine the next five ingredients (through sugar) in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until the frosting is fluffy. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, gently stir in ½ cup coconut. Spread the frosting over cake.

If desired, carefully toast the remaining coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring, until it is golden brown and fragrant. Let cool, then use toasted coconut to garnish the frosted pound cake.

Published in: on July 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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