Just before I left for India I was invited to a rum tasting and cocktail masterclass event at Rum & Sugar, a new bar down in Canary Wharf, which specialises in, yep you’ve guessed it, rum. I’m not a massive fan of the Wharf (generally being adverse to all things corporate and covered in pinstripes), so I was pleasantly surprised to find the bar down a quiet lane overlooking a dock with actual boats in it. It is part of an old warehouse that also houses The Museum of London Docklands, and which used to be where rum was stored on its arrival to the UK from the Caribbean – a neat use of history! Inside they’ve reflected the building’s original purpose with old rum barrels and framed black and white photographs from the 1800s. Otherwise the decor has a slight seventies vibe, with tan leather seats and big glossy lampshades. It was much larger than I was expecting, they are clearly hoping to capitialise on the location’s potential for corporate parties and events (the bar itself can hold about 150 people, even more if they spill into the museum next door).
We started with a tasting of six Flor de Cana rums, a growing brand from Nicaragua. First up was a white rum, something I haven’t been particularly keen on since university, where triples of Bacardi came as standard, but this one was different. It’s aged for 4 years in oak barrels, and then filtered to regain it’s purity. It was very clean tasting, with citrus, coconut and hints of white chocolate before a very dry finish. We then moved on to the darker rums, which increased in age from four up to 18 years. My favourites were the last two, both smooth enough to be drunk on their own (as indeed we were!). The 12 year old one tasted of toasted almonds and butterscotch, while the 18 year old was full of cocoa, spice, smoke and leather. They would both be delicious over ice with a drop of water. We also learnt a bit about the making of rum – how the alcohol is a by-product of sugar reduction, and that all rum is stored in oak barrels previously used for bourbon.
Six shots of rum down we moved on to our cocktail masterclass – starting with one of my favourite cocktails, a mojito. All our cocktails were to be made with the white rum we had tried earlier, which I found odd as I normally think of mojitos as being a dark rum cocktail. We had great fun learning to free pour, and trying not soak our friends when flipping the bottle the right way up again (the trick is to bob the bottle up and down before righting it – this creates a liquid seal).
Thankfully, after we had finished we were given a selection of canape sized portions of some of the restaurant’s dishes, all of which had rum in them somewhere. I particularly enjoyed the soft, sticky pork belly braised in spiced rum, and the fresh red snapper marinated in mojito. The delicate flavours of the trio of panacottos were overwhelmed by the addition of rum, but the toffee, rum and salted caramel pudding was lip-smackingly delicious. On the basis of these teasers I would be keen to come back and try the full menu.
Thoroughly rum-soaked, we made our slightly wonky way home. Rum & Sugar offer all of what we experienced to paying customers, and you can mix and match the sections to suit you. It is a great place for an office or other large party, but the layout of the bar does mean that just a few of you can happily tuck yourselves away in the corner without feeling overwhelmed. I loved that they have reincarnated an old rum warehouse as a rum bar, and the knowledge and passion about the spirit was evident in all the staff we met. I don’t let myself be dragged down to Canary Wharf very often, but at least now I know that I’ll have somewhere to recommend we go if I am!
I was invited to this event by Samphire Communications. Many thanks to them and Rum & Sugar for their generosity.