I recently wrote an article called Shacks, Street Hawkers & Jerk about the Caribbean food that Turtle Bay offer in their restaurants around the U.K. They also have a very impressive cocktail list, and I was kindly invited to the Turtle Bay Cocktail Masterclass being held at their Southampton restaurant.
I was greeted at the door by Karla, who in turn introduced me to Kevin, our tutor and host for the evening. Kevin asked what sort of cocktail I would like; sweet, sour or fruit based. I preferred a sour cocktail to get the evening started. “Do you like it strong?” asked Kevin. “Why not!” I replied and without hesitation I was recommended to try their Rude Boy. This was made from a 126 proof Wray & Nephew rum, Woods 100 rum, Barbados clove liqueur, fresh lime and served in a Martini glass. It made an excellent aperitif, the lime brought alive the spice from the clove liqueur and helped to mellow the high octane Wray & Nephew rum!
Turtle Bay Cocktail Masterclass
When everybody had arrived, we were given two types of fries to try. Spiced Fries and also some Sweet Potato Fries; both very moreish and the saltiness started to make me thirsty. Kevin got things started by simply asking who liked rum? Pretty much everyone put their hand up. This was good considering it was a Caribbean cocktail event! Turtle Bay have over 40 different types of rum on their bar shelves; this could turn out to be a very enjoyable evening!
The first rum we got to sample was Koko Kanu, a cask aged coconut liqueur that has a great depth of sweet coconut and an aroma, that not surprisingly reminded me of sun cream and being on a beach.
Next up was Blackwell, a Jamaican rum with cinnamon and vanilla flavours. It was smooth and warming on the palate. The rum was named after the very same Chris Blackwell, who set up Island Records in Kingston, back in 1959. Turtle Bay use Blackwell rum in their mojitos.
Santa Teresa – Rhum Orange
Next was a Santa Teresa – Rhum Orange from Venezuela. This dark caramel coloured, aged rum has been steeped in macerated Valencia orange peels. Intensely orangey, you could quite easily drink this over crushed ice or just even straight from the freezer.
Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
Last up was some true fire water – it was Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, used in the Rude Boy cocktail I started with earlier in the evening. Powerful stuff when you sip it neat!
Kevin went on to show us how to make some of their more popular cocktails. The first was a Bahama Mama, made from the Koko Kanu, with 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters, Pineapple Juice and Grenadine. Their Reggae Rum Punch used the mind blowing 126 proof Wray & Nephew rum, fresh lime, orange and pineapple.
Mojito – Atop fresh mint went crushed ice, sugar syrup, Barbados Clove rum liqueur and Blackwell rum. This was all muddled together with a cocktail spoon to blend all the flavours together and then topped up with soda water. Took me back to Cuba, where I first tried the refreshing, but warming flavours of the mojito.
Finally Kevin showed us a Mai Tai, which translated apparently means “The Best”. Apricot brandy and Appleton rum were poured into a Boston Shaker, along with lime and a good glug of pineapple juice.
After this we were offered a selection of Turtle Bay’s signature dishes to mop up all that alcohol. Thank you to Karla and Kevin and all the staff at Turtle Bay Southampton, for a very interesting and rum filled evening.