Our review of the UK finalists in the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition takes us back to London with Tom Walker’s Maid in Cuba. Tom is a bartender who can be found working the American Bar at The Savoy – a place truly steeped in cocktail history. Just like our last featured finalist (Iain McPherson’s Siam Saoco), Tom is following hot in the footsteps of Chris Moore, a finalist last year and one of this year’s three most promising.
Maid in Cuba
2oz Bacardi Superior
1oz lime juice
0.5oz Simple syrup
Small handful of mint
3 slices of cucumber
Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, but don't muddle! Add ice, shake, and double strain into a large compote rinsed with absinthe. Top with a splash of soda, garnish with a slice of cucumber and serve.
Tom takes us through his inspiration for his cocktail:
Taking inspiration from a new drink category that originated in New York in 2004: The "Maid". The Maid in Cuba was created as a contemporary classic to celebrate not only the past 150 years of Bacardi's heritage and history, but the next 150 years too.
The years between 1862 and the end of the 19th were some of the most monumental in terms of how alcohol was redefined and served to the everyday drinker. Along with the first ever bartenders manual published in 1862, Don Facundo single-handedly changed the definition of Caribbean rum with the introduction of brand awareness in the form of 'Bacardi'. In conjunction with the growing temperance movement in the US, and with the establishment of American Bars throughout Europe, Dun Facundo helped revolutionize rums fortunes despite its poor reputation.
Moving forward to the beginning of the 1930s, and we see that as 'The Great Experiment' limping towards the finishing line in America, US citizens flocked over to Cuba to 'bathe in Bacardi' and to Europe to drink in their American Bars. It was at this time that Harry Craddock penned The Savoy Cocktail Book, a collection of over 750 of the most popular drinks at the time. The great thing about it was that even though the cocktail was originally an American invention, some of the drinks that have stood the test of time - the Blood and Sand, the Hanky Panky, etc. - were thoroughly British (and Savoy-specific) inventions.
As it stands, consumers and bartenders are currently enjoying the second golden era of bartending and cocktail making; chef-like techniques and 21st century innovation has never been so ripe, and modern day bartenders are probably some of the most knowledgeable and well-read amongst those in alcohol industry. But amongst the homemade ingredients and crazes that sweep the bartending fraternity, sometimes it's just the simple things that customers remember, especially with good customer service and drinks with simple ingredients.
The 'Maid in Cuba' pays homage to the classic drinks of the past, such as the Mojito and the Daiquiri, as well as the contemporary classic the Old Cuban. With these three as the main focus, as well as a new drink category that originated on the lower east side of New York in 2004, the idea was to create a simple, clean and fresh drink with Bacardi Superior as the heart of the drink.
In the same way that Harry Craddock took an American invention and made something applicable to the British public, so to was the aim of the Maid in Cuba. And instead of celebrating all that has been achieved by both bartenders and Bacardi in the last 150, the Maid in Cuba was to stand as a point that there are still another 150 years of history to make and celebrate, both with Bacardi and with bartending as a profession.
Rum Databank: Bacardi