The Tippling Point | Shrine for Rum Lovers: Smuggler's Cove in San Fransisco has 600 Varieties of Drink from 60 Countries
From traditional Carribean creations to the contemporary ones, blended, harmonized and perfected by expert blenders, the Cove’s huge menu is itself an encyclopaedia and a historical document.
Representative image: Reuters
Suddenly you feel the ground moving as if the ship you are in pitches to one side, tiding over a huge wave. You rub your eyes and look again. Nothing. The hall you are in is decked out with ropes and fishing buoys; the cupboards stacked out with bottles of rum. As you carefully perch your foot on the stairs with pools of water near it, you suddenly see a giant anchor hanging down from the roof. Where am I? You ask in wonder.
Welcome to Smuggler’s Cove, San Fransisco.
If you are a rum man, and has enough money to travel around to get to the best waterholes in the world where you’d study your favourite drink up close, you’ll not miss this place.
Smuggler’s Cove is perhaps the largest treasure house of rum in the world, with more than 600 varieties of the drink. Sourced from nearly sixty countries including India, (who wants to travel all the way out there to drink it!), the place is a heaven on earth for rum lovers. Rare and vintage rums including the ones handcrafted by distillers and blenders from Caribbean islands, where rum was born, will pamper you with the sheer number of choices.
When Martin Cate opened his Cove in 2009, he had only one aim - to make a shrine for the rum-enthusiasts by building the largest collection of rum in the United States. It soon became a classic twist to the tiki bars now popular in the world.
The nautical and rum decor that Smuggler's Cove boasts of, accosts you the moment you enter the bar. You feel you are in deep waters.
What to drink from Smugglers Cove
Apart from those six hundred varieties of rum, the sheer variety of the cocktails available may stump you out in picking your shot. From tipples available from taverns of yore to the ones great writers like Hemingway tasted at Havana, from traditional Carribean creations to the contemporary ones, blended, harmonized and perfected by expert blenders, the Cove’s huge menu is itself an encyclopaedia and a historical document. Here are a couple of samples:
Hibiscus rum punch
This is a traditional drink of Jamaica, a country popular for its exotic rum. This cool refresher, built against the intense sun in the islands, is originally a homemade spiced hibiscus liqueur made with rum, lime and sugar. Imagine yourself holding the red drink, with candied hibiscus petals floating on top, against the backdrop of the blue sky and the blue sea in Jamaica. Time to sip the red.
Neisson L'Esprit Blanc Rhum Agricole
This rhum agricole from Martinique, a beautiful island in the Carribean is a pure distillate of fresh sugarcane juice. With no water added during fermentation of distilling, this version of rum would tickle those senses no other drink could have ever reached.
In order to gather a community of strong rum lovers around the Cove, Martin Cate set up a rum club, the Rumbustion Society. Members can navigate through the long collection of rums available at the Cove, read their histories and even join trips to the distilleries from where they come.
(Manu Remakant is a freelance writer who also runs a video blog - A Cup of Kavitha - introducing world poetry to Malayalees. Views expressed here are personal)
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