Professional Editions C & D
Bar Convent Berlin is probably the main event on the cocktail calendar and brands always strive to be there to introduce their latest innovations. At Bar News, obviously, our eyes were mostly on the Havana Club booth, were the second batch of Professional Editions were first introduced. If you don’t mind us saying, they really live up to expectations — and then some.
As you probably know by now, Professional Editions are developed for bartenders by bartenders. The first two bottling were launched last year at the same event. Edición A was developed in collaboration with Floridita’s Alejandro Bolivar in celebration of that hallowed establishment’s 200th anniversary. Edición B had the one and only Nick Strangeway tame a little dose of smoke, Cuban-style. One looked at a past style of Cuban rum’s prestigious history while the other matched international spirit trends and Cuban rum.
Since the whole idea of the project is to match an iconic bartender with a Maestro del Ron Cubano, each rum is bound to be extremely different. It’s obviously the case with Edición C and Edición D. This time, Havana Club enlisted two of the biggest names of the current cocktail scene. Alex Kratena is the co-founder of P(our), the co-owner of Tayēr+Elementary and has had a hand in developing a few products with distillers and liquor makers. Carina Soto Velásquez, for her part, is one of the founders of Quixotic Projects, a hospitality group that has completely revamped the Paris cocktail bar scene with bars and restaurants such as Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste or Les Grands Verres.
If Alejandro brought to the project his intimate knowledge of the cantinero tradition and Nick brought a first hand expertise in the finer points of distilling and aging, Carina and Alex have harnessed their knowledge of the needs of today’s bartenders and have found a way, with the Maestros del Ron Cubano, to answer them. Both rums are also the fruit of their deep dive into modern Cuban culture.
At the Bar Convent seminar Carina and Alex gave with Havana Club ambassadors Meimi Sanchez and Audrey Hands, both explained how much they were inspired by the farmers, artists or artisans they met on their trips. As always in Cuba, nothing is smooth sailing: they also had to get used to local limitations and to work hard to get their ideas through to the Maestros del Ron. With the help of the Maestros, guardians of a 150+ year traditions, Alex and Karina were able to innovate the way they wanted. This is quite obvious when you taste C & D for the first time. Both editions are totally unexpected and yet absolutely respectful of the art of the Maestros.
Let’s start with D — this is the one you need to taste first, and also the one that took the longest to develop. Described as « an intense rum, true to its Cuban roots, the sugar cane », D is a blend of lightly aged aguardientes and slightly longer aged rum bases. Carina and Alex’s inspiration, they said, was Cuban terroir and how it impacted the flavour of sugar cane. Like many visitors who have had the privilege to taste Havana Club’s aguardiente fresh off the still, they were impressed by its mineral and saline profile and wanted to stick as close to it as possible. It will remind you of agricole rums and other unaged sugarcane distillates but it bears the unmistakeable imprint of the Cuban maestros — Juan Carlos González and Salome Alemán, in this case.
C is a completely different beast. Described as « a light, bright rum aged in American white oak casks », C is a blend of two iconic Havana Club bases — one white and one aged. If the oldest rums in D are 4 year old, in C they are 12. As Audrey Hands told us after the seminar, Alex and Catrina were wow-ed by Cuba’s artistically identity — in particular the designers at Clandestina — and by Cuba’s ability to assimilate and blend influences. In Cuba, you follow international trends and give them a very local spin. Together with Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales, that’s what they did. At 50°, C is the first high proof Cuban rum — following international trends for high strength spirits. At the same time, it’s a gold rum, when most recent interest in the category has been reserved to longer aged or unaged rums. Both of its time and out of time, this very idiosyncratic rum packs a double punch. C & D have been warmly received in Berlin and we hope you get a chance to play with them in the near future.