cruzan rum dinner at lola (plus fall drink recipes)

With the exception of a good mojito, I don’t care for rum. And always thought daiquiris were just too sweet for my liking, crazy colors and all. So when I received an invitation to attend the Cruzan rum dinner at Lola a few weeks ago, admittedly I was more excited about Lola than the host (and the fact that friends Alexa and Janet were attending, too).

When Jamie and I arrived at the private room downstairs, we were greeted with Rumosas, Cruzan’s version of a mimosa (Cruzan Mango mixed with dry champagne). At first sip I realized two things: one, I was going to enjoy much more than just the fabulous dinner that awaits; and two, I better make my way over to the appetizers because I was drinking on an empty stomach and this drink was dangerously good.

Before our first course, we were greeted by Cruzan’s resident rumologiest Andrea Bearbower, who discussed the intricacies of rum production including the role of molasses and fusel oil in the distillation of the spirit. Cruzan Rum, she taught us, is the fifth-largest and fastest-growing rum brand in the United States, their products are amazing, they use the best aluminum bottle units to store their ingredients. The line consists of a light rum, several dark rums, a single barrel and ten flavored rums. The rum has been produced on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1760. It’s considered one of the “cleanest” rums and mixes high quality molasses with tropical rainwater, which, through fermentation, is turned into alcohol. The rum is aged in oak barrels in an open-air warehouse, accelerating the aging process and bringing the spirit to full maturity sooner. Little known fact – Cruzan is owned by Jim Beam. When Beam is done with their oak barrels used to age the whiskey, they send them to St. Croix where they are used in the aging process for the rum, which gives it its unique flavor.

I found myself rather interested and intrigued by what we were learning. Kudos to Bearbower, she’s a great presenter and obviously quite passionate about her work and rum.

rum1Our first course, a pear and apple salad, was paired with singe barrel cider. You needto make this drink with DRY botanical bubbly water. Next to the rumosa, this was my favorite. I’m excited to make a batch for Halloween.

Single Barrel Cider
1.5 oz single barrel rum
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz apple cider (fresh cloudy kind)
Top with cinnamon; serve in a tall glass w/ ice.

rum3For our second course, we enjoyed wild Alaskan salmon over heirloom tomatoes, white beans and cucumber. It was paired with a classic daiquiri plus float, a second flavored rum that “floats” atop the drink that you basically lightly spoon over. I chose pineapple. Here is where we learned that a true daiquiri is never purple, blue or red. Further, it is not meant to be frozen. And the key, apparently, is freshly squeezed lime juice. No exceptions. Further, we learned, the daiquiri was founded in Cuba by American miners at a local bar.

For our tasting, we were encouraged to taste it first in its original state then again after we added our flavor. You can’t see it, but it’s there and did completely change the drink.  Both versions were nicely tart; I liked it – much better that the umbrella-toting version I’m accustomed to.

Classic Daiquiri with Float
1.5 oz Cruzan light
¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
Spoon your favorite flavor over top; serve in a martini glass

The last course was coconut chocolate Bavarian with pecans and caramel appropriately paired with a hot toddy. This was my least favorite course. I didn’t care for the dessert at all, which is surprising because I’ve yet to sample a dessert from Cory Barrett at any of Symon’s restaurants that I didn’t like. As for the hot toddy, it wasn’t bad – Jamie certainly enjoyed it, I think I just met my rum quota for the evening.

Hot Toddy
1.5 oz Cruzan single barrel
1 oz honey or sugar
1 large lemon peel

Prepare a snifter by rinsing it with boiling water and pouring the water out. Add the sugar or honey and lemon peel and pour in an ounce of hot water. Stir until the sweetener has dissolved. Add rum and top it off with more boiling water. Add a cinnamon stick and a little melted butter.

Prior to this tasting, I didn’t realize how versatile and flexible rum could be. Turns out I enjoy it in much more than just a good mojito. I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to attend this event and look forward to sharing my newfound rum knowledge and recipes with friends and family. Cheers.


  1. Posted October 19, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    this was such a fun evening!!

  2. Liz Lewis
    Posted October 23, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Any word on why they put simple syrup and lemon juice in the cider drink? I’ve done the rum-and-cider combo before, but never like that.

  3. Posted October 24, 2009 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Hi Liz. I’m not sure. I’m guessing it’s just a preference thing. I reached out to their PR person to see if they can share more. Perhaps they’ve tested many ways and feel this version goes best with their rum? We’ll see if they respond. Thanks!