Professional Editions launched at BCB 2018
Bar Convent Berlin is unlike any other barshow: the variety of its program, the quantity of visitors from all over the world and its sheer size make it the one, truly unmissable cocktail rendez-vous of the year. The 2018 edition — stretched for the first time over three days — was particularly significant for Bar News and all Cuban rum lovers (we imagine that’s every single one of our readers). Indeed, Havana Club seized the occasion to present the first two iterations of a new, limited line of rum, called the Professional Editions.
What are the Professional Editions? Well, the name sort of says it all. Most rums, as Havana Club’s International Marketing Director underlined in a seminar, are developed by maestros roneros to be drunk straight. It’s their nose and their palate that make the choices. The Professional Editions take a different tack: the maestros roneros collaborate with leading bartenders on the creation of an exclusive and innovative blend. The limited runs are thus developed with bartenders and exclusively for bartenders in order to be mixed in select top bars across the world.
What does this mean in practice? For Professional Edition A, Floridita’s Alejandro Bolivar was asked to pick a style of rum he and his team would love to work with. He named Carta Blanca Extra, a long gone style of Cuban rum, extremely popular with cantineros in the 20’s and 30’s (think Havana Club 3 años aged a little more for added depth and complexity). After months of work with maestro ronero César Marti, the result of their collaboration was revealed at Floridita’s 200th anniversary. 12000 bottles of this white rum with the complexity of an aged rum are now about to fall in the hands of bartenders across the world.
Professional Edition B is an altogether different beast, born of a small mistake. A few years ago, Havana Club unexpectedly received Islay whisky casks. The aged rums they unveiled after 12 months obviously did not fit within the current range, but could they be put to use in order to create a Cuban rum with a hint of smoke? Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales enlisted legendary UK barkeep Nick Strangeway to answer that question and come up with the perfect blend. The result of their work was subsequently fine-tuned with a panel of 7 top bartenders — smoke is unusual in rum and Asbel and Nick wanted to make sure its presence would not distract from the excellent rum bases used for the final blend.
Working hand in hand with the trade creates what we would call a virtuous loop: on the one hand, bartenders get new flavours to play with and gain a new understanding of what rum can be; on the other, Cuban maestro roneros, guardians of a noble tradition, get to explore the possibility of rum in unexpected ways. This may have significant implications for both communities.
At Bar Convent, Havana Club did more than ‘just’ introduce the range. Visiting bartenders attended workshops led by some of the 7 leading mixologists that were on the panel for Edition B. Marcis Dzelzainis, for example, ‘deconstructed’ rum and had his guests put the pieces back together as they saw fit — playing with the flavours of specific types of wood, for example. All participants were asked to leave their ideas on a post-it. The best ones might be used for a future Professional Edition, in which case they’ll obviously receive full credit. Other workshops explored creativity, rum and bartending — Carina Soto Velasquez spoke about ‘developing new concepts’, Zdenek Kastanek about ‘being a guest bartender’ and Sly Augustin thought about ‘the future of rum’.
Speaking of the future of rum, it seems obvious the Professional Editions will play a big part in the conversation. At the moment, Professional Editions are limited runs. It’s now up to the industry to seize the opportunity and create new flavour profiles for their cocktails. And who knows, the limited runs might very well be here to stay… In the meantime, the maestros roneros are not resting: they are hard at work on Edition C and for this one, we were told in Berlin, they’ll receive a hand from Alex Kratena. This is bound to be very exciting.
More info on Havana Club Professional Edition A & B can be found here