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The Distillate of Summer

June 16, 2017

If this past week taught me anything, it’s that summer is coming. And summer will be hot. Fortunately, there are many ways to beat the heat.

You could hang out at the mall. They have great air conditioning, but generally the food is a bit lackluster. At least it is in the food court, and The Melting Pot isn’t open for lunch. So a bowl of molten cheese mixed with wine and garlic is sadly out. Actually, that’s probably a good thing. Both for my diet and the quest to beat the heat.

There are cooling foods. Watermelon is always a favorite. But let’s not forget the obvious ones like ice cream. Yes, we’ll be going on another tour of hard ice cream. Until then, you’ll just have to rely on your wits to make the hard decision about where to go. And if your wits don’t direct you to The Dutch Udder, it’s time to check yourself.

But more than anything else, I’m really a fan of cooling drinks. Something tall, cold, and maybe even a little fizzy. It shouldn’t be that sweet. It doesn’t even have to be alcoholic. Cold brewed iced tea is one of my all time favorites.

However, something recently came to my attention that has me thinking in a boozier direction.

What is the spirit of summer? For me tequila is all about the spring. Sure, I’ll drink it in the summer, but I’m buying my annual bottle for Cinco de Mayo. A tequila rickey is a quick, simple, and much more refreshing drink than the margarita. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with fixing one up when the mood strikes.

Icy cold gin drinks are totally refreshing too. But gin is really a twelve month spirit. Yes, it’s true I rarely reach for it in the coldest months of winter. So maybe a ten month spirit is a more accurate description. Regardless, the spirit of summer it is not. Although it wouldn’t be summer without indulging in at least one Tom Collins.

My call for the summer is a spirit that is all about the tropics. And that’s rum.

George Fiorini from the Savoy Taproom alerted me to two things he’s doing over there in the near future that got me started thinking about rum. One is a rum dinner, and the other is a rum cocktail class.

But this isn’t any rum. And it’s not local rum either. It’s so fancy that it’s not even spelled rum, but rather rhum. Which is what they call it on the island of Martinique. Have you ever heard of Rhum Clement?

When I saw the words, I was instantly excited. I had heard of this brand before. I first read about it in F. Paul Pacult’s Kindred Spirits. My well-worn copy was first published in 1997, and this is what Mr. Pacult had to say about this distillery at the time:

The Clement rum reviews were taken from barrel samples that were sent to me while negotiations were taking place between the producer and a highly respected U.S. importer. Lamentably, the talks never came to fruition. As of the writing of Kindred Spirits, I do not know if these sensational rums have ever made their way into the U.S. If they have reached an agreement with an importer and you are lucky enough to spot them in your local liquor store, or if you travel to the isle of Martinique, take, at least, one nanosecond to buy them.

That’s high praise indeed from this spirits critic who is not easy to please. F. Paul was a fan of the blanc and the 10 year old bottlings. And he gushed about the longer aged rhums. It was only the 6 year old rhum that didn’t quite live up to the standards of the rest.

I’ve never actually had one of these, and it’s incredibly exciting that Savoy Taproom will be making a four course French Caribbean dinner to go with these French Caribbean rhums. The only bummer is that I’m going to be out of town. That’s the magic and the tragedy of summer.

So I’m hoping that one of you might not only be tempted to go, but might also take pictures so that I can at least live vicariously through your experience.

What I will be doing is buying some kind of rum for the liquor cabinet as summertime rolls around. But first I have to clear something out. Fortunately, I think we’ve got a little bit of time before the next heat wave rolls around.

Since Father’s Day is this weekend, I may even be able to get a little day drinking in and make some progress towards opening up a spot in the cabinet. But first is the Dave Hill show on Saturday, and then we’ll just have to see what happens from there.

Have a great weekend.

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