“A lot of people don’t associate Denver [with] a rum market,” says Robert Sickler, “but I am damn determined to make it one.” As co-owner of Finn’s Manor, Sickler has embedded his love of rum deep into his cocktail menu. Apparently, it’s catching on. “I’ve found that people that come to Finn’s who are whiskey lovers — who don’t think they like rum — walk out of here falling in love with one or two of them,” he notes. One of his many rum drinks, Winter in Trinidad ($9) was built around the idea that a winter rum cocktail could be refreshing, not heavy or syrupy. Sickler is known to many spirits aficionados as the Voice of Whisky, but he's also got a rep for rum.
Here’s what he put together:
1.5 ounces Plantation Original Dark rum“With our cocktail program," Sickler explains, “I’m trying to create drinks that are very, very refreshing — not too heavy, not too light — and kind of entice people to not have to struggle through the drink, but relish it and enjoy it and reorder the same thing.”
.5 ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
.5 ounce New Deal Ginger Liqueur
1.5 ounces passion fruit puree
Dash of Angostura bitters
The bartender's choice of ingredients plays a role in creating that craveable combination. Here are Sickler's thoughts on what goes into the Winter in Trinidad:
Plantation Original Dark rum: “I like their dark rum, above and beyond any in the industry,” Sickler says, “due to the fact that it has some elegant complexity that comes as a result of an actual barrel-aging, and not strange additives and coloring.” Plantation Dark is a blend of rums from the Caribbean two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, aged in charred American oak barrels for three to five years. After the addition of another eight-year-old rum, the blend is shipped to France, where it’s aged for another year in Cognac barrels. “It makes a really unique, unparalleled finish to the rums,” Sickler says. “It’s perfect for a cocktail.”
Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao: “It’s an orange liqueur that has a really pleasant citrusy, dry, rich, fruity character,” Sickler says of this collaboration between Cognac producer Pierre Ferrand and cocktail historian David Wondrich. The result was a replica of the curacaos made in the nineteenth century. “They use actual orange peel,” Sickler continues. “No artificial flavoring or coloring whatsoever. Just a little tiny bit makes a profound impact in any drink.”
New Deal Ginger Liqueur: Distilled in Portland, Oregon, this liqueur combines organic ginger with organic cane sugar and agave nectar. “I’ve tried all of the ginger liqueurs out there, both European and American,” Sickler says, “and I find that theirs is truly the closest thing you can get to actual ginger syrup — not cloyingly sweet. You can actually taste the spiciness of the ginger.”
Passion fruit puree: The limited amount of fresh passion fruit that makes it to Colorado is extraordinarily expensive, so Sickler uses the next best thing: Canoa-brand passion fruit purée from Colombia — “a non-GMO purée that is never at room temperature,” he says.
Food pairing: “Island Peppapot’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken ($8) would be absolutely divine with that cocktail,” Sickler says, referring to one the food trucks located on Finn’s covered patio. “It’s got a lot of spicy, rich island notes, and our cocktail has those very same attributes. The passion fruit just pops with that spicy sauce.”