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Conrad Hotel - Dare to Pair with Mount Gay Rum

I recently attended a tasting dinner that featured pairing with

Mount Gay Rum

at the


restaurant in

Conrad New York

as part of their Dare to Pair series.


One hears frequently about beer, wine, and, less often, cocktails paired with food. The latter is typically not as much a harmonized menu as a table side collaboration with the mixologist/bartender (if any good). That is to say, that the cocktails are paired by the diners as they go along rather than it being a concerted effort by the chef.

In context of that, and given

1. I am not a particular fan of cocktails, except for a precious few that I slip into.

2. I prefer wine to accompany my food as I find it ever more sippable and I have a better palate for it.

3. I love rum - Mount Gay XO is one of my favorites, and, much like whisky, I tend to sip on it slowly without any accompaniment other than good company. It is my unwind spirit.

Needless to say, when I heard of this series, my curiosity was piqued. So, I went.


In a private tasting room overlooking the Hudson, the evening began "

Dark and Stormy

" and then we plunged directly into the fine tasting Mount Gay Black Barrel neatly paired with succulent oysters topped with rum jelly. This was a stunning pair and the best of the evening. A fine tip that I picked up from the national ambassador for Mount Gay was that a few drops of rum intensifies the delectability of oysters. So next time you are at an oyster bar, move over white wine, here come the gentlemen and ladies of the saloon!

Over the course of the evening, we tasted tuna tartare, pork tenderloin with freekeh falafel and finally a upside down pineapple cake paired with sazerac, XO and, finally the 1703! The cocktails were well crafted and the rum was sublime (and abundant) as you would expect from the maker. We were regaled by stories of rum making, the skills of the master blender as well as how to best enjoy the spirit.


My verdict on the food is that the components of the plates need simplifying. Spirits have a strong flavor statement and it is imperative for the food accompanying to have a solitary strong note that complements the drink. From the successes of the evening, the best pairings were those that were clean and uncomplicated. The opening course sent a strong, promising statement, which, unfortunately, got diluted by the end of the meal. The mango puree in the tartare was too sweet and would have served better, incorporated as chunks with the tuna, and, the pork plate had too many components. Given the higher sugar palate of spirits, the food need more acidity to create a magical balance.

Having said that, I applaud Conrad for, indeed, daring to pair spirits with food and showing that it could be done. It was a very enjoyable evening and I learnt a few new ways of appreciating a beautiful, smooth spirit such as rum. I look forward to what the chef has to offer as the series evolves.


For this run, they have two more in the series -

Pairing with Hudson Whiskey, which, is a brilliant locally distilled whisky - March 19

Pairing with Remy martin April 24

Tickets are $110 per person

{Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Conrad Hotel for this tasting dinner. All opinions expressed are my own and I have received no further remuneration for writing this article.}


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