Notting Hill Carnival: Your Guide to Jamaican RumBy Tom Stevenson
For one weekend in August, London descends on the communal gardens and tat sellers of Portobello to create what the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s hotline describes as: ‘The worst fucking weekend of the year for us. The police want a fight. The residents either think think it’s the apocalypse or lob Red Stripe out their windows and charge pikeys a tenner to shit in their loos.”. It is, of course, Notting Hill Carnival.
I love Notting Hill. You’ll find a blend of French and American expats, Jamaican immigrants and Sienna Miller’s mates fend off tourists looking for the house with the blue door or that travel bookshop that didn’t have Winnie the Pooh.
It’s a lovely place and it was my home, well my work, for most of this year. Just above the The Book Warehouse (the bright yellow one) outside Notting Hill Gate exit 3 and 4 is the office of Smatt’s Rum. I first walked into this office on a day that was hotter than the sun itself last July, where a deal was cut to send me to Jamaica under the headline “Buy two cases of rum and you get an hour long cocktail masterclass from UK world famous startender, Tom Stevenson”.
This may have been a bit fabricated. I spent a year working in rum, both in London and Jamaica – here is my guide to Jamaican rum:
The New Rum: Smatt’s
Smatt’s. Great product, beautiful bottle, not very well known. Smatt’s may be the best thing that never happens, however it makes the best Daiquiri in the world.
Whenever I’d show off the product in a new bar I would suggest the daiquiri-off. I make my Smatt’s one, you make yours with your white rum house pour, we give it to those nice ladies over there and they decide which is the best. Wins 27 Losses 0 KO 4*.
Make it: 60ml Smatt’s Silver, 30ml Lime Juice, 10ml Sugar Syrup
The White Rum: Wray and Nephew
Whilst we’re on white rum, we need to talk about Wray and Nephew. Bartenders love Wray and Neph. Consumers think it’s gasoline. Its 63% and if you’re feeling a little “Ooh not sure about tonight, might go home early, you guys stay here”, have one of these.
Make it: The Ting Wray – 40ml Wray and Nephew topped up with Ting
It will knock your snapbacks off and you might cry a bit but dass how you get a party started.
The Newbie Rum: The Duppie Share
There’s a new kid on the block and it’s called ‘The Duppy Share’. It’s a blend of Jamaican and Barbadian rums and the bottle design is beautiful. It’s a very fragrant and fruity rum so my best recommendation is this: I’m calling it the Blossom Gold Fashioned.
Make it: 60ml Duppy Share, Orange Bitters, Caramel Syrup
Then pop a few drops of orange blossom to your glass, add some boiling water and place a plate on the glass to keep the steam in. This will infuse your glass with orange blossom. Add your mixture to it and place a hefty blood orange wedge in it. Voila.
The Winning Rum: Appleton
The number one rum in Jamaica is Appleton. However you may not see it as much as Havana Club or Bacardi this weekend. In Jamaica they throw the best parties ever. In Ocho Rios last summer they threw three days of all-inclusive food and drink beach parties. Unlike if this had happened in the UK where greedy dickheads would sink four punches in a row and then try their best to headbutt everyone, the parties are trouble-free and everyone’s just there to dance. Sand between your toes, bassy dancehall and an Appleton Planters Punch. Welcome to Jamrock.
*Disclaimer: KOs attributed to earlier excess