A Smashing Little Devil of a Rum Cocktail with Flor de Cana:
I’m a big fan of the cocktail maestro and bar impresario and Ryan Chetiyawardana (he calls himself Mr Lyan). His Tom Dixon designed bar Dandelyan in the Mondrian Hotel on the South Bank is ranked at number one in the World’s 50 Best Bars list and his Dalston restaurant Cub is breaking new ground in both sustainability and drinks matching with its innovative menu (see Fiona’s review of Cub restaurant here).So I was very pleased to receive a copy for review of Ryan’s second book Good Together by Mr Lyan. Published by Frances Lincoln it showcases recipes from some of the top chefs in the world sharing their favourite dishes for a wide variety of celebrations and occasions ranging from a date night to a summer BBQ with matching cocktails designed by Mr Lyan. The starry line-up of chefs include Nuno Mendes (Mãos, Chiltern Firehouse), James Lowe (Lyle’s), Nieves Barragán Mohacho (Sabor, Barrafina), Roca (El Celler de can Roca), Robin Gill (The Dairy), Isaac McHale (The Clove Club), Tien Ho (Whole Foods) and Richard Hart (Tartine).
The book is as diverse as the chefs involved with the recipes covering everything from a Dandylion Mojito and a Frosé Margarita (frozen with a rosé vermouth), to Tuna with Ajo Blanco and a straightforward Spinach Dip and Flatbread. Placing the drinks and food in a social context is a really smart move and could be a godsend if you are trying to impress a significant other!
Some of the food and cocktail recipes are more straightforward than others with ingredients and equipment such as a Nutribullet that won’t be found in every kitchen cupboard. But for the gastronomic adventurer in your life, it would make a perfect Xmas present with an exciting range of food and drink experimentation to galvanise them through the New Year. But they are all straightforward to follow with clear instructions and beautiful pictures and design giving the experience a clean and modern feel.I always like to try out a recipe when I’m reviewing and I have never tried to recreate one of Mr Lyan’s cocktails before so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wanted to use rum because I had a couple of bottles in for review from Flor de Caña, the premium rum brand from Nicaragua, which was recently named Global Rum Producer of the Year by the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London.
Flor de Caña is a 5th generation single family estate rum that is naturally aged without sugar, additives or artificial ingredients. The estate sits right at the base of the San Cristóbal volcano, the tallest and most active volcano in Nicaragua, and the rum’s flavour profile is enriched by the fertility of the soil, the enriched water and the hot volcanic climate. It has become one of the first global spirit brands to be Fair Trade certified and from an eco perspective, the rum is distilled with 100% renewable energy. If that’s not enough for the past 12 years, the team at Flor de Caña has planted 50,000 trees annually and offer free education and free medical attention to their employees. It’s not often I feel virtuous having a drink…!
I have two rums in for review. The Gran Reserva is a 7-year-old, mahogany-hued, extra-smooth and full-bodied rum, which I recommend for sipping with sparkling water and a twist of orange or in the Flor Old-Fashioned cocktail, which is prepared with brown sugar, three to four drops of coffee bitters, a splash of sparkling water and two orange rinds. But I shall be using the Flor de Caña 4 year Extra Seco. It’s a crystal-clear, 4-year-old, light-bodied, silky rum that blends well with juices, colas, soda and tonic water, perfect for mixed drinks. It’s also the winner of 10 international awards, including a Gold Medal at the 2017 International Rum Conference in Madrid.
I chose to make a cocktail from Good Together called the Little Devil Smash. Here’s the recipe:
Well balanced and intriguing rum cocktail recipe
- Just under 1 shot (20ml/0.8oz) London dry gin
- Just under 1 shot (20ml/0.8oz) Flor de Caña 4 year Extra Seco
- Just under 1 shot (20ml/0.8oz) Triple Sec (a dry style like Merlet)
- Just under 1 shot (20ml/0.8oz) Lime juice
- 1 tbsp Sugar syrup
- 4 Thai basil leaves (failing that, regular basil and a dash of absinthe), and more to garnish
Add all to a shaker, shake very hard with ice (you want to obliterate the basil!), double strain over cubed and cracked ice, and garnish with some basil leaves.
As with all of Mr Lyan’s cocktails the Little Devil Smash was brilliantly balanced but with a tremendous depth of flavour; mixing the gin’s botanicals, the bitter orange of the Triple Sec and the citrus of the lime with the clean flavours of the rum which proved to be a perfect blender.
I shall be trying out more Flor de Caña rum cocktails from the book this Christmas – I can’t wait!