Originally Published Jul 19, 2002
With close proximity to the Caribbean and Central America, the US has been heavily influenced by the infectious rhythms and flavors of Latin culture. Evidence of this new ‘Latin Invasion’ typified by the popularity of music from the likes of J-LO, Shakira, Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias, is quickly finding its way into America’s cocktails and cuisine.
NEW YORK, Jul 19, 2002 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — “With inspiration from Mexico to Puerto Rico and South American countries like Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, the Latin influence is driving the latest in cocktail and food trends across the United States,” says Beth Davies, Director of Communications for the Distilled Spirits Council. “The popularity of hot new Latin cocktails like the Mojito and the Caipirinha, and classics like the Margarita are the major factor in rum sales growth being #1 for 2001 and tequila leading so far for 2002. New twists on classic drinks such as the Strawberry Mojito (pictured) and the Mango Margarita are giving this trend a hip, fashionable edge, echoing the Cosmopolitans’ influence on the Martini craze.”
The explosion of rum-inspired cocktails can be directly associated with upscale pan-Latin restaurants sprouting up in New York, Miami and Los Angeles — where many national culinary trends are born. Chef Norman Van Aken of Norman’s in Miami, and star chef Douglas Rodriguez of New York’s Chicama and Patria, distilled the essence of local Latin flavors and ingredients and translated Latin food to a heightened, gourmet level. These sophisticated meals lend themselves to the responsible enjoyment of a perfectly complimented indigenously inspired cocktail.
The latest trendy twists on tequila and rum cocktails can be found at nightspots such as the Avalon Hotel in LA, Town at the Chambers Hotel in New York and the Rose Bar at the Delano in Miami. Famed ‘Bar Chef’ Albert Trummer at Town infuses aged rum in the bottle with vanilla beans to create unique flavors expressed in his Raspberry Rum Daiquiri with fresh Raspberry puree and his famed Mojito made with brown sugar and mint. At Miami’s Rose Bar, the signature Margarita is served in a Martini glass with orange, cranberry and lime juice and at Red Bar in New York, the Margarita is made with Blood Orange juice. At the Avalon Hotel in LA, the rum-based Olympic Punch and Jamba-tini and the Margarita Azul add retro spin with tropical juices and citrus flavors. Audrey Saunders at NY’s classic Carlyle Hotel spices things up with the Jamaican Firefly, pairing the sweetness of rum with the zesty spice of ginger ale. Purists flock to NY’s Grace where owner Fred McKibbin presents a wide selection of aged rums and tequilas that can be sipped solo or included in one of his popular Margaritas or couture, off-the-menu drinks.