The next time you’re behind the bar, suggest that your customers honor Haiti’s indomitable spirit by ordering a Haitian rum for their Cuba Libre or Mai Tai.
Northwest of the rubble that is Port-au-Prince lie the sugar cane fields that supply the makers of Haiti’s uniquely flavored Rhum Barbancourt rums. These rums (called rum agricole) are made from sugar cane juice rather than sugar byproducts such as fermented molasses (used in rum industriel). Rhum Barbancourt then double distills their rum in copper vats, and ages it in white oak barrels, creating a vanilla-scented taste many fans say is even smoother and more mellow than cognac.
Overlooking Port-au-Prince is the Jane Barbancourt company’s Berling SA offices, distillers of Rhum Vieux Labbe, a line of rums agricole that also come in flavors such as rum raisin. While not well known in the US, the brands have become increasingly popular among Haiti’s middle and upperclass and visitors to the island.
And then there is the rum of choice for the masses -- Clairin -- a homemade brew which is similar to what Americans call “moonshine,” and not an export. If any Atlantans are familiar with Clairin, drop me a line and tell me what I’m missing.
Meanwhile, here are two recipes adapted from the Rhum Barbancourt Web site that will help keep Haiti’s indomitable spirit on your mind. (Feel free to substitute your own favorite rum -- as long as you got it from Haiti.)
The Yellow Bird (serves 1)
- 1 ½ oz Rhum Barbancourt White Rum (or Berling Rhum Vieux Labbe White if you can find it)
- ¼ oz Galliano
- ¼ oz Banana cream or liqueur
- ¼ oz Apricot brandy
- 2 oz Pineapple juice
- ½ oz Lime juice
Shake with ice and strain or pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a banana slice.
Haitian Punch (serves 1)
- 3 oz Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star Rum
- 2 oz Orange juice
- 1 oz Passion fruit juice
- ½ oz Lime juice
- 1 oz Grenadine
- Crushed ice
Mix and pour over ice into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon and cherry flag.