2009 has come and gone, and 2010 has thrust itself upon us like a drunken monkey driving a bumper car at the State Fair. As a raging egomaniac and self-important blogger, your humble host figured he could hand out a few awards for whatever he felt like for 2009. The “Rummies” or “Golden Barrels” are something I plan to make a bit of a tradition here, so without further ado, let’s talk about the best of the best from 2009.
Best New Bar – Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco, USA
Yes, Martin Cate and I are friends (though I’m not usually supposed to proclaim that in mixed company according to the restraining order), and yes, I haven’t been to all of the new bars in the world this year…but these are my awards and I’ll give them out as I see fit.
At Smuggler’s Cove Martin has created a rum-drinker’s paradise. More than 200 rums line the shelves behind the talented crew of bartenders. The menu is a veritable encyclopedia of classic, tiki, and new rum cocktails to suit anyone’s tastes. If you like rum and you haven’t been to Smuggler’s Cove yet (I don’t care if it only opened about a month ago), then it’s time to start planning that trip to San Francisco.
Best Blog Post Series About Rum – Dr. Bamboo: Un-Review Spiced Rum Summit
Dr. Bamboo has one of the most amusing cocktail blogs out there, and is an incredible artist. His artwork can be seen all over his website, in magazines, and even on over 90% of the blogs in the world named “RumDood.”
While I don’t think his series (part 1, part 2) is completed yet, the good Doctor takes you on a whimsical, non-hoity-toity romp through the various spiced rums available today, rating them on key features like pirate references, strength, and “packaging coolness.”
Best Blog Post Series Not About Rum – Alcademics: Making Clear Ice
This was a hard category to decide on, which says something when you consider I get to make these things up as I go.
Camper’s exploration of different approaches to try and achieve crystal clear ice is engaging on so many different levels if you’re a cocktail geek at all. It’s both funny and incredibly informative, and demonstrates exactly how much more effort Camper is willing to put into his writing than someone like, say, me.
Best Webcomic – XKCD.com
“What the heck does this have to do with rum or cocktails?” you might ask. I might respond, “Get your own blog and do your own awards.”
Best Tiki Bar – Trailer Happiness, London, UK
So, I didn’t actually make it to Trailer Happiness in 2009. I haven’t been there since 2008. I have been to a number of other tiki bars though, and have yet to eclipse the fun I had with Rikki Brodrick and crew. Plus Rikki made a really awesome volcano bowl at the Rum Renaissance conference in Miami this year and may or may not have given me a few shots of Wray & Nephew Overproof.
Best Rum I Can’t Afford To Buy – Appleton Estate 30 Year Old, Appleton Estate
30 years old and blended by Joy Spence – a true master when it comes to blending rums – the Appleton Estate 30 Year Old has been described as “amazing” and “a pure tasting rum.” Fewer than 1500 bottles were made, and if you’ve got a spare $400 lying around, you too can have your very own bottle to jealously guard like a dragon protecting its horde.
Rum Of The Year – Smith & Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum, Haus Alpenz
I thought about leaving it as “Best Rum” or “Best New Rum” for consistency purposes, but in my life I have been consistently inconsistent.
Smith & Cross is the newest rum offering from Haus Alpenz, who also bring us gems like Scarlet Ibis and Batavia Arrack. It’s the pinnacle of funky, Jamaican rums. Use it in swizzles, punches, or for one of the most amazing Mai Tai’s you’ll ever have. While not a sipper, no one has been more daring with more success in my humble opinion. If it isn’t available in your area, I suggest either weeping or open, armed rebellion against the forces that keep it from you.