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Rum & Champagne - 3 recipes to celebrate 2022 and toast to 2023!

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Hi, Friends of Cocktails. Is there a better way to say goodbye to 2022 than a couple of Rum & Champagne cocktails? I don’t think there is, and after a long year I think we could all use a recipe, or two, or three, to celebrate the year that was and to toast to the year that’s ahead of us. That’s why I’ll be making 3 simple and delicious cocktails - the Air Mail, the Old Cuban, and a Champagne cocktail with Rum instead of cognac - without any crazy ingredients, just classic cocktails that you can make anytime, anywhere. If you want to know which cocktail is the best, I suggest you watch the episode on YouTube where Robi & Sašo will join me to toast and help me decide. Now let’s start, it’s Cocktail Time!

There’s just something special about popping that nice bottle of Champagne you’ve been saving for this time of the year, and as much as I love a nice glass of this wonderful sparkling wine from the Champagne wine region of France, if you like cocktails, you can always add your own little twist to how you can enjoy it. Rum is quickly becoming one of the most popular spirits in the cocktail community and I’ll be using one of my favorite aged Rums at the moment: La Hechicera Serie Experimental No1. It’s a Colombian molasses Rum, aged in american oak barrels before a finish of several months in ex-muscat wine barrels, giving this rum its distinctly complex and tropical-fruity character.

If you want to use something else, avoid spiced or heavy Rums with a long fermentation, because they will overpower the delicate champagne notes. Speaking of overpowering Champagne, don’t use Super Juice for champagne cocktails. The extra zestiness provided by the essential oils in Super Juice would mask the freshness of Champagne, so I’ll go with freshly squeezed today. With that, let’s make some champagne cocktails, starting with the Air Mail, which first appeared in the 1941 book “Here's How, Mixed Drinks” by W. C. Whitfield, who stated that “It ought to make you fly high.”

Air Mail

● 45mL (1.5oz) Aged Rum

● 22.5mL (0.75oz) lime juice

● 22.5mL (0.75oz) honey syrup

● 2 drops saline solution

● ∼45mL (∼1.5oz) Champagne to top

Add all the ingredients besides the Champagne to a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake it like it just hit turbulence for 10-15 seconds. Then double strain the cocktail over a clear ice spear sitting in a tall glass. Make sure the glassware fits the cocktail with room to spare for the Champagne. For garnish you can go with mint, lime peel, or my way, an orange peel coin, that will complement the acacia honey I used in the syrup. You could say this cocktail is a Honeysuckle with Champagne or a French 75 with Rum whatever the case let’s give it a try.

The cocktail greets you with a fresh, orange aroma from the peel coin garnish. Then our well-aged Rum is brightened with dry champagne, refreshened by a touch of lime and balanced by honeyed richness. It’s really an effervescent Honeysuckle Daiquiri, and who wouldn’t love that? Let’s now move onto the Old Cuban, which its creator (Audrey Sanders) described as a Mojito in a little black dress. The cocktail first appeared in the Pegu Club in 2001, and it quickly got popular in London and Paris too, making it a contemporary classic.

Old Cuban

● 45mL (1.5oz) Aged Rum

● 22.5mL (0.75oz) lime juice

● 15mL (0.5oz) rich raw sugar syrup

● 2 drops saline solution

● 2 dashes Angostura

● 8 - 10 mint leaves

● ∼60mL (∼2oz) Champagne to top

Into a shaker add the Rum, lime juice, syrup, saline, angostura and mint leaves - remember to give them a spank before they go in. Give it a shake with ice and then double strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe, followed by topping it with the Champagne and garnishing it with a fresh sprig of mint. A version of this cocktail is made at the Boilerman Bar in Hamburg, Germany, and they call it the Old Cuban Highball. If you want to learn more about it click the video below to see Jeorg Meyer, the head of the Boilerman Bar, speak more about it in the full episode. Meanwhile let’s give our cocktail a try.

The Old Cuban is more aromatic and of course herbal, because of mint and Angostura. The Rum base works great for the dance of bitters, herbal mint and fresh Champagne, so you can easily call this a more interesting Mojito. If you’d like an even lighter version of this cocktail you can double the amount of Champagne and make the Old Cuban Highball, but let’s now continue with the 3rd Champagne cocktail, named… the Champagne Cocktail. We’ve done this classic before, both traditionally and with cognac, as well as a version with scotch and honey, but today we’ll spice it up with Rum.

Rum Champagne Cocktail

● 1 demerara sugar cube

● Angostura bitters

● 30mL (1oz) Aged Rum

● 1 drop saline solution

● 100mL (3.5oz) Champagne

Start by soaking the sugar cube with bitters. I used Angostura but you can of course experiment with different bitters, like Allspice or the Winter Spice Bitters I made in the gift guide episode for an additional festive twist. Place the soaked sugar cube in a chilled glass and add the Rum, which I suggest you chill in the freezer since we won’t be adding any ice to this cocktail. Then add the saline, tilt the glass and top up with Champagne. For the garnish I’ll express a tangerine peel over the top of the glass - there’s something about this wonderful aroma that just feels right this time of the year.

Aroma of tangerine gives way to the freshness of bubbly Champagne with the first sip. Rum is not the star of the show with this one, but is, together with the bitters, just supporting the champagne. Perfect cocktail for this time of the year, or any time of the year actually. We can’t believe this is already our third New Year’s episode of Cocktail Time, and I hope you have learned something new that will help you when making cocktails at a bar, or at home. Thank you for reading! Cheers and Happy New Year.

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