Yesterday I found myself standing on the terrace at the Oxo Tower looking out over a sunny London.
Sipping a drink made by Jim Meehan and chatting to Banks Rums Masterblender Arnaud de Trabuc, it was turning into a good day.
It all started a couple of hours earlier with a Banks 5 Island Negroni made by Ian Goodman’s great bar team at Oxo as we waited for Arnaud to arrive (he was understandably running a little late as he’d just received news he had become a Grandfather for the first time) to talk us through the new Banks 7 Golden Age Rum.
Before long Jim and Arnaud were in full flow as the attentive crowd listened to the story behind their new golden rum. Whereas the Banks 5 Island blend uses, unsurprisingly, rums from 5 countries the & 7 Golden Age uses, yep that’s right, rums from 7 countries.
To the original Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and Java, Arnaud has added Guatemalan and Panamanian rums to the mix.
This had led the amount of rums used in the blend to rise to 23 and balancing this all together is obviously no mean feat. Arnaud, who has a long history in the rum industry, was inspired to blend rums to make Banks by the Scotch and Cognac industries and the quality of products this produces.
Jim explained that every rum brought something unique to the blend such as the Javanese rum which he likened to the ‘bitters in a Manhattan’.
After sampling the 7 Golden Age, Jim jumped behind the bar loosened his shaking arm up and started knocking out some cocktails inspired by the brand, starting with a twist on a Mulata which was superb.
Whilst Jim was mixing up a storm we took the opportunity to have a chat with him, seeing as he is traveling the world these days with Banks we wanted to know where he thought the most exciting bar scene in the world is at the moment?
‘London, definitely. Over the last 12 months the new bars that have opened have been fantastic added to this the re-emergence of bars such as the Artesian has London ahead. In the next 12 months there are going to be some exciting things happening in New York which should help redress the balance but probably not enough to take it ahead of London.’
Jim then went on to explain just how lucky bar operators have it over here by pointing out that brands financial involvement in bars is a huge help and something that is illegal in the US. The same can be said for distilling your own products on site which, is also illegal over the pond.
When he was finally freed from behind the bar Jim was gracious enough to sign a copy of his excellent The PDT Cocktail Book for all of the attendees. BarLifeUK will be doing a full review next week and Jim has promised us a signed copy to give away to you wonderful people.
A night out in Happiness Forgets and Hawksmore followed with the Spirits Cartel guys, Jim, the Goodmans (Ian and JJ) and Dan Priseman but that will stay between us. Needless to say rum, beer and hotdogs were consumed.
For more info on Banks 7 Golden Age or 5 Island get in touch with the Spirits Cartel via their website here and keep an eye on BarLifeUK for the chance to get your hands on a signed copy of Jim’s book.