I found myself stood behind the bar in Bramble, barspoon in hand swizzling away and there's only one person to blame: Christopher Columbus. The thinking goes that if Columbus hadn't made his famous westward voyages, then sugarcane would never have been introduced to the Caribbean and no sugarcane means no rum and no rum means no El Dorado Swizzle Competition. A selection of bartenders from Glasgow, Newcastle and Edinburgh were lucky enough to taste a decent chunk of the El Dorado range - the 3, 5, 8, 12 and 15 year old variants and three single still, single barrel rums from two-column metal still, a wooden pot still and a two-column wooden still which also has the distinction of being the oldest operating column still in the world. The competition called for two drinks: a swizzle made with either the 3 year old or 5 year old, and a signature drink made with the 12 or the 15.
The swizzles were interesting, mainly because the swizzle - as a formula - exists below the radar of most UK bartenders. There was a great range of drinks, with lots of interesting homemade ingredients and one drink inspired by the classic dessert combination of rhubarb and custard. The thing that intrigued me about swizzles is the ability to control the dilution of the various ingredients in the recipe. The ingredients you add first will be more diluted than those you add later on in the process, and that dilution can be controlled (to a degree) by judicious addition of ice throughout the process of preparing the drink.
I should also point out that I hadn't planned on entering the competition. My participation was thanks to Steph, the El Dorado brand ambassador, and to the guys at Bramble for letting me raid their backbar.
The Columbus Line
Take a catalina or large (14oz or so) highball, and quarter fill it with crushed ice. Add:
15ml lemon juice
15ml lime juice
Swizzle for about 5 seconds. Add more crushed ice along with:
1 barspoon Cherry Heering
Swizzle again for about 5 seconds. Add more crushed ice with:
50ml El Dorado 5 year old.
Swizzle once more. Fill the glass with crushed ice and float a splash of ginger beer. Garnish with an orange zest twist. Flame a spritz of absinthe from an atomiser over the top to finish.