"What's the best way to enjoy rum? However the hell you want to," a BACARDÍ representative told a small group of people in New York City on Thursday night. The crowd had gathered at The DL for a premier night of relaxation and tastings at the Rum Room—three beautifully decorated floors, each one geared toward a particular flavor.
Like all things, the best way to experience the full effect was to start small, with BACARDÍ Anejo Cuatro, and work your way up. On the venue's middle floor, the Cuatro room featured four unique cocktails that could appeal to anyone's palate. The standout was the NYC Highball, a blend of rum, ginger ale and apple juice, complete with citrus, floral or earthy perfumes that complemented the classic taste. Upstairs, BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho was the star of the show, with four more cocktails featuring the 8-year aged rum. The Zone, a rum and lemonade pairing, was simple and delicious—its balance of sweet and sour made it the kind of drink that works just as well on a night in as it does a night out. And, finally, there was the Gran Reserva Diez, a speakeasy accessed via a tucked away staircase and hidden behind mock bookcases.
A highlight of the festivities, the speakeasy, which was decked out in extravagant antique chandeliers that could've come straight from the roaring twenties, held 30 people, adding a personal touch. The famed "rumancer" Juan Coronado led tastings of BACARDÍ's most elite rums, which are distilled in Puerto Rico and aged, undisturbed in their barrels, for a decade. Guiding attendees to become "rum evangelistas" in their own right from sight to smell to taste, he made the event as informative as it was recreational. But he wasn't the only familiar face in the building. Jhene Aiko, the singer and, of late, patron saint of anti-cuffing season songs, popped in to partake in a bit of fellowship and to toast the night.
The BACARDÍ Rum Room is a cocktail lovers paradise. The gigantic palm leaves and assorted tropically floral decorations rendered the venue a literal urban oasis, a perfect match for beverages which arrived "aged under the Caribbean sun." And because what's a drink without some food and music, the event included passed hors d'oeuvres—crab cakes, empanadas and miniature chicken and waffles—and a soundtrack of the hottest sounds of the summer, from Goldlink and Megan Thee Stallion to Koffee and Burna Boy.
The rooms were everything the best New York nights are made of: good music, good drinks, and good people all set against a photo-ready backdrop. It felt at once glamorous and down-to-earth, a feeling of vacation and of the comforts of home. Rum, with its connection to the islands, finds a natural home in a city where so much of the lifestyle is inspired by natives of that region; to live here is to come to know a culture within a culture. And in the brisk November temperatures, patrons temporarily found Caribbean warmth—a dream come true in the city that never sleeps.