Pair Chocolate and Rum with Vizcaya-Infused Cake Balls

Have you heard about cake balls? Despite the somewhat pedestrian name, cake balls are a refined and delectable treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. They’re easy to make but elegant to serve or to give as a gift. And since they’re bite-sized, cake balls are the perfect after-dinner nibble to enjoy with a glass of the ultimate sipping rum, Vizcaya VXOP. When you use Vizcaya (don’t worry–it’s only half a cup!) to make rum-infused chocolate cake balls, you’re creating a bridge of flavor, sweetness, fruit and spice between two delicacies.

Even if you’re not a baker, you can still make these cake balls by using a prepared cake and just a few more simple ingredients. Why not make a batch of these for your sweetie or your next cocktail party? Or go ahead and treat yourself–we won’t tell!

Vizcaya Chocolate Cake Balls

3 cups chocolate cake crumbs*
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup fruit jam
½ cup Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum
¾ cup chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder

Combine the cake crumbs, confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Add the jam and the rum. Mix thoroughly until you have a mixture the consistency of firm paste—it may be slightly sticky. You can coat your hands in cooking spray to help you form the balls, if necessary, or use a large melon baller or small cookie scoop. Form balls that are 1.5 inches in diameter, roll in the chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder, and place into small paper candy cups. Chill thoroughly. Before serving, you may want to remove the cake balls from the refrigerator for 20 minutes, to temper.

Serve with a glass of neat Vizcaya VXOP, and enjoy!

*To make cake crumbs: cut cake into pieces and run through a food processor. You want a fairly fine crumb for this recipe, but if you don’t have a food processor, you can crumble the cake with your fingers, discarding any large or hard pieces.

Photo Courtesy of Annie Mole

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Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 11:08 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Vizcaya VXOP–Proud To Participate In The Tasting Panel Tour 2010

If you’re a rum enthusiast and a member of the media or the spirits trade who lives in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami or New York, please join Vizcaya VXOP at The Tasting Panel’s 4th Annual Tasting Panel Tour.

The ultimate sipping rum, Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 had the honor of being chosen as one of the June 2010 “Publisher’s Picks” by The Tasting Panel’s publisher and executive editor, Meridith May. At the Tasting Panel Tour, you’ll be able can taste the sophisticated hints of maple, butterscotch and spice that make sipping a snifter of Vizcaya VXOP a truly luxurious experience.

Join Tasting Panel Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Anthony Dias Blue, in a walk-around tasting event featuring a selection of Double Gold Winners, including Vizcaya VXOP.

It won’t surprise fans of the smooth, amber-hued Vizcaya that this delectable sipping rum also took “Best Rum” at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This rhum agricole, which is distilled with pride in the old Cuban tradition, has won a host of awards, as well as the approbation of spirits lovers the world over. For more information about the upcoming events of the Tasting Panel Tour, including dates, times, venues and the opportunity to register, please click on the city in which you are interested:

Chicago

San Francisco

Los Angeles

Miami

New York

Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 10:33 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Relax This Labor Day with A Vizcaya VXOP Old Fashioned

Ever since mankind has been drinking spirits, we’ve been looking for ways to enhance, augment, balance, or even cover up the taste of those spirits. There’s just something about tinkering with cocktail recipes that appeals to us; as a result, there are thousands of different cocktail recipes that enjoy degrees of popularity. Yet there are a few that abide. These are the classics, the ones we enjoy again and again.

Even if you prefer your Vizcaya VXOP neat, or with a splash of water or perhaps a cube or two of ice, there are times that call for something a little elaborate. Nothing much, mind you—just a few simple flavorings and some fruit, to emphasize the smoky, spicy elements that make Vizcaya so delectable on its own. Enter the rum Old Fashioned.

The Old Fashioned ranks at the very top of the classic cocktail list. Swap the traditional whiskey or bourbon for a smooth pour of Vizcaya VXOP and experience this drink anew.

Vizcaya VXOP Old Fashioned

1.5oz. Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum
several dashes bitters
½ tsp sugar cane syrup, simple syrup or agave nectar
1 maraschino cherry
1 orange slice

Combine all ingredients except orange slice in a highball glass. Muddle, add ice, then garnish with the cherry. Enjoy!

This Labor Day, why not treat your friends to an Old Fashioned—made just slightly new-fangled with the distinct, delicious taste of Cuban-style Vizcaya?

Photo courtesy of The Bitten Word

Published in: on September 2, 2010 at 1:01 PM  Leave a Comment  

Come Drink Vizcaya at Brooklyn’s Friendly, Funky Roneria Caracas

Summer is drawing to a close, and that makes people melancholy, even while it sends them to the streets, seeking to wrest just a little more pleasure from this most hedonistic of seasons. If you happen to find yourself in Brooklyn, feeling a little restless and perhaps more than a little thirsty, may we suggest that you head over to Roneria Caracas for a rum flight featuring Vizcaya VXOP?

Located inside Caracas Arepa Bar Brooklyn, Roneria Caracas is an unusual little venue. The atmosphere is casual, funky, colorful and cozy all at once. With aluminum-siding (yes, we said aluminum siding) and plywood (yup, plywood) décor, a chalkboard listing its collection of premium rums, and a clientele that’s largely comprised of indy hipsters in various array of body modification, Roneria Caracas is not the most sophisticated venue in which to enjoy your Vizcaya—but don’t let that stop you.

Not only are their rum flights a fantastic way to venture into the world of “devil water” if you’re not already an aficionado, but the extremely knowledgeable bartenders will be happy to point you in the right direction if you’re looking for a cocktail. In fact, Roneria Caracas has developed a bit of a reputation for creating fresh, fun versions of old favorites—drinks that are at once surprising and true to the spirit of the original. A mojito with just a soupcon of absinthe; an old fashioned with port-marinated blueberries and bay leaf reduction; a pina colada accented with coconut bitters—these are some of the ways that the cocktails of yore are being reimagined by the mixologists at Roneria Caracas. Naturally, the slightly-smoky, honeyed and spiced notes of Vizcaya VXOP would provide an excellent counterpoint to any of these cocktails, as well as excellent enjoyed on its own.

While you’re at Roneria Caracas, make sure to try the speciality of the house at Caracas Arepa, arepas. These pocket-sized flatbreads can be stuffed with meat, chicken, cheeses or combinations of vegetables, and make the perfect snack to pair with a snifter of Vizcaya, or to nibble in between tastes of the rum flight.  If your appetite is already whetted when you arrive, try one of Caracas’s full plates, or order a tableful of arepas, empanadas and delectable side dishes to share.

Weather permitting, enjoy your smooth distinctive Vizcaya on Roneria Caracas’s patio and watch the fascinating parade that the Brooklyn streets provide. Cheers!

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 1:28 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Frequently Asked Questions About Rum and Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Rum

Q. What is rum made from?
A. Premium rums, like Vizcaya VXOP, are made from the freshly pressed juice of sugar cane. This juice is then fermented, distilled, aged and bottled. Many popular rums that are widely available in both bars and liquor stores in the United States today, however, are made from molasses—which, rather than being produced specifically for the creation of rum, is a byproduct of other processes. Molasses generally results in an inferior product, but when you drink Vizcaya VXOP, you can be assured of experiencing only the highest quality spirits, made from sugar cane harvested at the peak of freshness.

Q. Is all rum aged? Does rum continue to age in the bottle, like fine wine?
A. Not all rum is aged, although most of it is aged in oak barrels to provide a mellow, more elegant taste to what might otherwise be a somewhat raw-tasting tipple. Vizcaya VXOP is aged in select oak barrels that once contained fine bourbons or armagnacs, in order to impart to this distinctive sipping rum a rich, nuanced quality. Most rums are aged before blending, and then bottled. This arrests the aging process, so you can be confident that each glass of Vizcaya will taste as consistently delicious as every other.

Q. What is “rhum agricole” or “methode agricole”?
A. The “methode agricole” is a unique distilling process that can be likened to the “methode champenoise” used to produce fine champagnes. It originally referred to spirits that were produced from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and distilled to approximately 70 percent alcohol (140 proof) by volume. Rhum agricole, which simply means “agricultural rum,” is in direct contrast to mass-produced industrial rums. Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum, which is painstakingly crafted in the Dominican Republic in the old Cuban style, is a rhum agricole and the ultimate sipping rum.

Q. So what is a sipping rum? Can’t I use Vizcaya with mixers or in cocktails?
A. A sipping rum typically has more complex, refined flavors that are intended to be enjoyed for their own merits, rather than combined with other ingredients that might overpower or obscure them. Sipping rums like Vizcaya are often paired with cigars or food to bring out the rum’s unique characteristics—notes of spice, butterscotch, vanilla, wood smoke and fruit, as well as a warm, inviting bouquet and smooth finish. Considered the ultimate sipping rum, Vizcaya VXOP may be best enjoyed neat, n on the rocks, or with just a splash of water to let its full flavor profile shine through. Nevertheless, we’re not going to tell you that you can’t enjoy Vizcaya as a component of an extraordinary cocktail—make the rum your own and savor it however you wish, as long as you don’t overdo it.

Q. Did pirates really say “Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum”?
A. Probably not. The phrase comes from a fictional sea shanty in Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous novel Treasure Island, and has been referenced or used in everything from poems, to television series, to a graphic novel, to a ride at Disneyland. Nevertheless, the tradition of rum drinking aboard ships, whether Navy or pirate, is a long-standing one, and singing “yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum” fits nicely with the romantic vision we have today of brave, seafaring men.

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 10:40 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Savor the Culture of Vintage Cuba at Rumbar with Vizcaya VXOP

If you’re looking for a sophisticated, refined yet inviting space in which to enjoy Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum, look no further than Rumbar, located inside Key Biscayne’s Ritz-Carlton. The name of this storied hospitality company is synonymous with luxury and exemplary service, and Rumbar puts a decidedly Latin spin on the Ritz-Carlton’s elegance.

With deep, inviting leather couches and armchairs, crimson walls and rich mahogany woodwork, Rumbar looks every bit the gentleman’s club. The atmosphere is genteel and relaxed—perfect for kicking back to savor the spice and complexity of Vizcaya. Rumbar also has a humidor that boasts an extensive collection of cigars for your smoking pleasure.

Despite its decidedly vintage feel—Rumbar reminds patrons not just of Hemingway, as so many Cuban-inspired rum-friendly establishments do, but also, with its slowly turning wooden ceiling fans, of Bogey and Bacall—the small plates offered by Rumbar’s kitchen have a decidedly modern feel. Choose from short-rib sliders topped with goat cheese mousse and arugula, yuca fries with a creamy chimichurri dipping sauce, or a Caribbean pineapple pizza with cilantro. The classic Cuban sandwich composed of ham, pork, pickles and cheese, the Media Noche, is reworked as a panini. Key lime pie is topped with mango coulis in a delicious marriage of two tropical flavors.

As you would expect at a such a delightfully old-school bar, there is a comprehensive list of cocktails, ranging from time-honored standards like daiquiris, mojitos and caipirinhas, to innovative specialty martinis. The true rum lover, however, will probably bypass these in favor of a vertical rum flight—or possibly a tasting of his own devising. It’s also possible to rent one of Rumbar’s VIP rum lockers, in order to store your own personal bottle of Vizcaya VXOP.

Make sure to check out Rumbar on Saturday nights, when Grupo Nostalgia, a four-piece Latin music group, will truly transport you and your date to Old Havana. Any night of the week, however, is a perfect night to sit back and enjoy a cigar as the friendly bartender pours you a neat Vizcaya, at Key Biscayne’s upscale destination for the enjoyment of rum and Cuban culture.

Photograph courtesy of K. Hurley

Published in: on August 12, 2010 at 8:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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What Cigar Do You Like To Pair Vizcaya VXOP With?

As with any pairing—wine and cheese, rum and food, music and mood, even peanut butter and jelly—the pairing of spirits and cigars is largely a subjective matter. What appeals or seems ideal to one man could well be a total turn-off for another, although it’s likely that they would all agree that at least half the fun is in the pursuit of a classic combination. If you enjoy Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum, and if you are a cigar smoker, it’s likely that you will already have done some experimentation to find your favorite cigar to pair with the ultimate sipping rum. Nevertheless, we are pleased to present a basic guide to rum and cigar pairing.

Rum and cigars are a natural match, simply because they are both traditionally produced in the same regions of the world. Just as vegetables that ripen concurrently in a particular climate tend to go well together, so the spicy, smoky flavors of rum tend to complement the warm and complex notes of a good cigar. Of course, the fact that both promote relaxation is not to be ignored, and for many cigar and rum aficionados, the very act of pouring that glass of Vizcaya and lighting up might produce a Pavlovian effect, allowing you to kick back and savor the moment thoroughly.

The first rule of thumb when choosing a cigar to puff with your Vizcaya is to choose one with an equally robust flavor profile. Vizcaya VXOP, after all, has a depth and intensity that works well with  many cigars. Its weight of flavor, which comes from having been distilled with real sugar cane and then aged in oaken barrels, requires a cigar that is also substantial enough to create some balance between the two indulgences.

That said, there are times when contrast becomes harmonious. As long as the cigar won’t pale in comparison to your neat or on-the-rocks Vizcaya, or vice-versa, choosing a particularly smooth and sweet cigar will provide a tasteful counterpoint. The notes of brown sugar, butterscotch, vanilla and maple in Vizcaya will sing more prominently when echoed by a rum that exhibits characters of sweetness. moke loves sweetness. Think of the way barbecue sauces often incorporate an element of sweet, fruity flavor that is tempered and deepened by the smoke of the grill.

Yet even a drier, more savory cigar can complement Vizcaya VXOP nicely, by playing up the rum’s substantial spice elements. You might notice a new element—say, clove or black pepper, oak, raisin or molasses—when enjoying a medium-bodied cigar, which wasn’t apparent just moments ago, before you lit up.

Vizcaya’s refined, intricate taste profile can be enjoyed on its own merits, or amplified by your favorite cigar. We think that the attempt to find the perfect marriage of a cigar with Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum is a task well worth pursuing, and we invite you to share some of your favorite cigars in the comment.

Photo courtesy of Alex Brown

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 11:27 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Calling All Rum Enthusiasts! Join Vizcaya in San Francisco

Miss Pearl's Jam House

This weekend marks one of the most anticipated events in the rum enthusiast’s yearly calendar: the San Francisco Bay Ministry of Rum Festival 2010. Hosted at Miss Pearl’s Jam House, located in the Waterfront Hotel in Oakland, CA, this event gathers together rum lovers from around the around the globe to celebrate their favorite spirit.

This year’s festival marks the second appearance of Barrie Lynn, the Cheese Impresario. Barrie will show festival goers that the pairing of rum and artisanal cheeses, while unorthodox, can be absolutely delicious. This event proved very popular at last year’s festival, so you won’t want to miss Barrie’s return or any of her delectable pairings.

After partaking of cheese, taste sugar cane spirits from many different makers, including Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 Cuban-Style rum. Also on hand will be some of the Bay area’s most respected and experienced mixologists, who will be whipping up rum-based cocktails, both classics and modern drinks.

Of course, you’ll also be able to wax enthusiastic about Vizcaya with fellow aficionados, including Edward Hamilton–considered the world’s top authority on all things rummy and the man behind the Ministry of Rum. All in all, the 2010 San Francisco Bay Ministry of Rum Festival promises to be a rollicking good time that will both educate and entertain all comers.

The festival will be held Sunday, August 8, 2010, beginning at 1:00pm for VIPs and press, then open to the general public from 2:00pm-5:00pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door on a cash-only basis, and are $50 per person.

We’ll see you there!

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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