The Rum Diary: Creole Apertif   •   Comments »

Before reading this post, it may be helpful to reference this one. That link is to the introductory article on The Rum Diary Spiritual. The Rum Diary is intended to be absorbed in couplets and the Creole Apertif is best assessed by also taking into account its sibling, Agricole Punch. If you’d rather jump right in, feel free to do so and cross reference the previous one if the words byrrh or agricole are foreign ones.

Creole Apertif vs. Agricole Punch

How to best describe the Creole Apertif? It’s very, well…agricoley. The Rhum Agricole has no place to hide. And that’s just the point. Imagine Agricole Punch (or as we’ll see later, the Classique) in the context of a first date. The idea is to show yourself, but just enough. Certainly there is more depth and rougher edges behind the politeness of a first impression, but it is intrigue, not comfort that you’re after. Once you grow more comfortable, the closer we come to the authentic you. The Creole is the authentic you.

The stripped down Creole Apertif is aromatically savory, almost sherry like in its salinity. But on the palate, there’s an interesting interplay of La Favorite and Byrrh. It was surprising that the Byrrh stood up to the burl of Agricole, enveloping it with an embrace of purple fruit. It was experienced as immensely concentrated, raisiny and jammy even. Since this cocktail is not the least bit sweet, this is an enlightened expression. We found a few soft pockets in an otherwise stern cocktail.

The Important Role of Vermouth

The silent partner in all of this is Dolin Dry Vermouth. Dolin, from Chambéry, is our vermouth of choice. It is seen in no less than a half-dozen of our most popular cocktails. Vermouths from Chambéry are dry in nature (served alone, Dolin is drier than Ben Stein stand-up), lean and tastes of the Alps- its place of origin along France’s Eastern borders.

True the Vin de Savoie AC is a bit further north, it is hard to overlook its comparable flavor profile to the white grapes of Savoie, like Jacquère or Altesse.

Today, Dolin stands alone as the torchbearer of Chambéry vermouth tradition. They are the only producer in the AOC of Chambéry. Perhaps we’ll cover vermouths role in greater detail at some point in the future, but for now, this cocktail is a perfect microcosm for how it works. It is the role of a jazz bassist. To an indifferent ear, the blast of the horn or giggle of piano is perceived. But it is the bass that is the enabler. It is a thankless foundation from which the other elements are granted room for vibrant expression. The same is true of vermouth in cocktails.

Check out this awesome map highlighting vermouths from around Europe. The flurry of activity seen around Torino is to be expected. Piedmont’s capital city has a long history of vermouth production. Their style, Carpano’s are usually red, richer and spicier than the mellow herbal driven ones of Chambéry.

Final Analysis

Of all the cocktails in this spiritual, the Creole appears the most exacting and demanding. You can scarcely avoid “forgetting” about this drink even as you’re engrossed in other matters.  The Creole Apertif is well suited for the first drink of the night (dry and lean, yet robust) and also for those interested in furthering their experiences with Rhum Agricole.


Posted August 20, 2012 • Filed under Spirits

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