It might have become a typical April, with the precipitation interspersing our days without warning, yet a mite of rain is hardly enough to prevent the good folk of Yelp Leeds from questing out. This fine evening saw folk set sail on the mighty ship MOJO, the destination being their Rhum Rooms, where x well and truly marked the spot for all kinds of golden treasure: rum. In another glorious, and heartily plunderous adventure, this Elite Event was one of splendour, stories and sumptuous swiggage.
The journey began at the entrance of MOJO, where Pirate Big Beard welcomed the land lubbers aboard. The shipmates piled in, and as they made their way up to the top deck, were welcomed into the becalmed folds with a Dark 'N' Stormy, whilst awaiting the rest of the stragglers. As folk had a natter and a catch up, their inner pirates took over, and everyone delved into the treasure chest to become a vision of villains complete with swords, eye-patches and parrots.
The already readied, Captain (Bar Manager) Samantha began the rum quest, introducing everyone to MOJO, and delved into the folklore of the venue. The bar was forged from a love of excellent drinks and fantastic music, something rustic but timelessly cool, something inviting but dirty, "like some long forgotten blues riff", and fortunately for Yelpers, rum was the perfect adventure to partake of at this ultimate stalwart on the Leeds bar scene: their dedication to the drink has seen practically the entire back bar upstairs filled with various selections, and thusly the 'Rhum Room' couldn't be more apt a moniker.
The first destination was Ron Zacapa 23yr. from Guatemala, a delectably drinkable and pricey treasure to get one's mouth around. As folks took in the history of the rum, they were invited to take a tipple, and get to grips with the strong flavour. Made from sugar cane honey, the notes included vanilla and toffee, making it incredibly smooth to drink and perfect to enjoy simply by itself. To educate the seafarers, Sam issued out drams of Sugar Cane Honey and Molasses, so that everyone could try the ingredients that go into the process of making rum, which were delightfully sweet and richly treacle-eqsue, respectively. Following from the pure sample, First Mate Jos rustled up some fantastic Old Fashioned samples, to exemplify how the scallywags may enjoy Ron Zacapa 23yr. in a cocktail, which everyone pillaged with gusto.
The next port of call was El Dorado 12yr., hailing from Guyana. This smooth pirate-worthy drink is a molasses based rum, blended with rums no younger than 12 years old, and sinks down like a happy anchor, with sumptuous hints of honey and dark sugar. The cocktail paired to demonstrate the sample was an expertly mixed Rum Alexander, settling the squall in every guests' desire for more rum.
After that, folks were sent to destination Smith and Cross, Jamaica, for a smoky shot of the good stuff. Aged for up to 3 years in bourbon barrels, molasses based, the plentiful caramel flavour and strong abv makes it a hard hitter and packs a punch when taken straight. Fortunately for the Yelpers, Jos caused a tempest in a glass, and rummaged up some delicious Mai Tais for the sampling.
The penultimate pit-stop landed the marauding Yelpers at Santa Teresa 1796, Venezuela, where folks learned that it was not only a delicious beverage, but an ethical one to boot. The CEO, whose family began their rum business some 200+ years ago, opted to rehabilitate gangs after they attacked the company, rather than send them to prison. Since 2003, Project Alcatraz has been helping gang members turn their backs on a life of crime, by encouraging them to commit to the community. With the age-old 'Solera' method, this rum has a delicious caramel pecan, honey, and coconut flavour. Guarapitas were shared amongst the shipmates, to showcase Santa Teresa's delights in a wonderfully drinkable mango biased cocktail, thanks to Jos's excellent craftsmanship.
The final rum adventure had Yelpers questing over to Le Mauny Blanc., of Martinique, to explore the realms of French rum. Made from sugar cane juice, and un-aged, this dram sent a fire into folk's bellies as the clear liquid went down. Fortunately, there was a fabulous Agricole Punch served up by Sam and Jos, to cool the inner flames and spark them from without, as this tasty tipple is served with a flaming lime garnish. And as folks polished off their final samples, the cheers and arrs could be heard throughout – for the pirating and pillaging wasn't quite over yet.
In one final farewell, two vats of rum punch were shared around, to send the braggarts well and truly on their way home to dry land. As folks dipped in for a final blast of their treasured rum, all manner of good pirate action got underway, with the photographer's camera being commandeered, sword fights broke out, 'arrs' could be heard from all around and a fancy jig or two took place.
A humongous thanks goes out to the fabulous Sam and Jos of MOJO, for their most excellent tales of rum and lashings of good spirit, Cheryl of SLB for helping us aboard the good ship MOJO, and of course Matthew Kitchen for his sublime skill in capturing all things rum diary. You can catch all the hearty gossip here, see the vision of villainy here, and see what the pirates themselves thought of the voyage here. Fancy trying out those fabulous cocktails yourselves? If you've not plotted your course, and gotten your bearings set to MOJO already, the delectables are listed below for your questing to begin! Fire in the hole!
"Like Mr Ben I disappeared into my fancy dress box and came out a pirate. Garrrr. AHOY there fair Rub-a-dub-Rowena and Captain Big Beard! Sam, the head manageress lady, sailed us through the different types of rum, pairing them up with cocktails as we went through. It was all very interesting, tasty and washed down with snackeroonies! Yum! Absolutely fantarrrghistic evening." April K
"I really liked the angle of learning what sort of manufacturing technique makes what sort of rum, and I was surprised to find that I actually really like neat rum. A special mention must also go to the yummy olives and cocktails, particularly the flaming one." Laura J
"Two rum tasting events in as many months? No wonder everyone appeared to have turned into a pirate! Once again we have been spoiled rotten, with five types of neat rum to try, shots of molasses and sugar cane, AND cocktails! All served in the very cool Rhum Room at Mojo." Hannah J
"Surprisingly a combination of pirates, rum and treasure made for a jolly evening and, lead by capn Row, Sam navigated the entire motley crew through the joys and subtleties of rum and it's resultant cocktails. Yes, there were a few duels and some parrots were injured but we are pirates for goodness sake, we have total disregard for life. Danger is our middle name (and apparently Arggggggg is my first name.)" Tim M
And that's it from me, mateys, until next time. I'll be seeing you on Yelp – Ahoy!
1. Ron Zacapa 23yr. Guatemala
Drink: Old Fashioned
2oz Ron Zacapa 23yr
bar spoon Trois Rivieres Cane Syrup
2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters
2. El Dorado 12yr. Guyana.
Drink: Rum Alexander
1 1/2oz El Dorado 12yr
3/4oz Crème de Cacao
2 dashes Mozart Chocolate Bitters
3. Smith and Cross. Jamaica
Drink: Mai Tai
1 1/2oz Smith and Cross
2 drops Absinthe
1/2 oz Almond Syrup
1oz lime juice
1/2oz Orange Curacao
4. Santa Teresa 1796. Venezuela
1 1/2oz Santa Teresa Claro
3/4oz Mango syrup
1/2oz lime juice
1 1/2oz Orange Juice
1 1/2oz Pineapple juice
2 dashes angostura bitters
5. La Mauny Blanc. Martinique
Drink: Agricole Punch
1 1/2oz la Mauny Blanc
1/2oz lime juice
1/2oz sugar syrup
1/2oz mango syrup
1oz lychee juice
1oz pink grapefruit juice
3 dashes tiki bitters
garnish with a flaming lime shell