Getting Reàl in San Juan
The location? San Juan in Puerto Rico. The event? The Reàl Cocktail Challenge. The mood? TIKI! We descended upon La Casita De Ronnes as part of an invitation from Reàl to check out their local competition hosted Crafted Barrel Group. A selection of local bartenders were going head to head in a battle of charm, mixed drinks & cocktail ingenuity to take home the top spot.
Setting the Scene The Sun was out in force & the bartenders undeterred wore their finest alongside the usual garb of suspenders, pruned moustaches & arm bands. Everyone was handed a Piña Colada & the house speciality of the 'Tri-Tip" was shared.This was no regular competition, however, as the day was filled with activities including a seminar from the legendary Tiki master Jeff "Beachbum" Berry from New Orleans. One of the godfathers of the modern Tiki revival sweeping the globe he was here to share his wisdom of all things rum, tiki & more. Drink in hand we listened as to not miss a thing!
The Wisdom The Beachbum regaled of the history of rum in general, how sugarcane & sugarcane spirits had made their way from as far as India until they finally settled in their newfound home of the Caribbean. How the modern history of the punch as a cocktail was very different depending on who you asked & how the punch had developed over time in recipe to cater to the changing of the times.
One of the rhyme's was written in the New York Times August 8th in 1908. It would go something like this: This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —I know whereof I speak.