The list of wine and spirits brands with celebrity owners/investors/front people is a long and every growing one. And we at Cooking District HQ totally get that. One of the first things that we will being doing after we win the Powerball jackpot tomorrow is opening a distillery. Right after we buy a vineyard.
But while we appreciate the impulse, the results of celebrity branded booze is decidedly mixed. For every Francis Ford Coppola making wines that are as skillfully made and award winning as his films, there's an actor, musician or Real Housewife looking to simply have fun, cash in on their fame and build out their brand.
So when Blue Chair Bay Rum, a new brand entirely conceived and created by Country music superstar Kenny Chesney, crossed our desks, you'll have to forgive us if we were a bit skeptical. But when we saw that he had teamed up with Jonathan Pogash, one of our favorite mixologists, to lead the brand's cocktail development program, we were impressed enough to take a second look.
It turns out that Chesney is as serious about his spirits as he is about his music. When he is not on tour, you can usually find him on an island beach somewhere, and over a decade ago he began thinking of creating a rum to bottle the lifestyle of the islands. After interviewing a number of distilleries Chesney chose a Barbados-based distillery, which is one of the oldest in the Caribbean, where rum casks are mellowed on the shore. The collaboration between the musician and Master Distiller Mike Booth resulted in three expressions — White, Coconut and Coconut Spiced.
“Each Blue Chair Bay Rum expression is different and has intriguing, natural flavors,” explained Pogash when we met him to discuss the rum and perhaps taste some cocktails. “The White Rum has great balance, lots of sugarcane on the nose, herbal, grassy notes on the palate and some great spice on the back. The Coconut Rum is really like a fresh coconut has been sliced open in front of you, and the Coconut Spiced Rum has notes of cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla.” Pogash has been playing around with the seasonality of rum and how these expressions can suit cocktail all year round, and be just as appropriate on a snowy night as a beachy day. “Yes, the Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum is great in summertime, but when you incorporate fall and winter ingredients, like cranberries, apples, or pear, you have a spirit that makes a great winter cocktail” says Pogash. “We put a shot of Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum with a glass of hard cider, and it was a beautiful pairing." He also made us a slamming hot buttered rum. Below find some of Pogash's creations, from warming quaffs to summer sips.