A rum pairing dinner… on an island in the Caribbean? It sounds absolutely dreamy. Follow along as writer Leslie Long takes us on her journey to the island of Nevis for some REAL rum appreciation.
On a recent trip to the glorious, green island of Nevis, I enjoyed an evening that wasn’t what I expected during my stay at the Four Seasons Resort. While the resort is admittedly gorgeous, giving guests everything they’d ever dreamed of, I was surprised when my friends suggested going slightly off campus for a Rum Pairing Dinner at Mango. Surely, wine pairings are common, but I’d never heard of a rum pairing. But why not? After all, islands and rum belong together.
Mango is the home of the 101 Rums Bar, the only bar in the Caribbean dedicated to fine-aged rums. And these days, the bar offers even more than 101 because you can choose from over 120 varieties, ranging from rarities such as Naked Turtle and Appleton 50-year old Jamaican Independence Reserve.
Mango and the colorful, inviting bar feel like true island dining spots with the vibe of a well-tended beach shack. For guests at the Four Seasons who are content staying put, this is a wonderful option for a night of authentic Caribbean ambiance without going too far. While Mango is actually part of The Four Seasons (easily reached by foot or golf cart), it feels worlds away.
Beginning every Sunday night at 6, the Rum Pairing Dinner is perfectly timed for experiencing the full beauty of the sunset, as the courses and rums unfold. Strolling through the bar to our waterside table, we were excited to get started.
You’re in good hands with Kendie.
Chief Mixologist Kendie Williams was our affable and knowledgable rum sommelier, explaining each course and its accompanying rum along with its inherent attributes. When not taking guests on the rum journey, she’s at the bar creating Caribbean drinks from locally sourced fruits, spices and herbs (many from the Four Seasons’ own herb garden). For her authentic cocktail creations, Kendie goes above and beyond the expected, blending homemade mango purees, hot pepper sauces, Caribbean spices and hand-picked herbs.
Twice named “Hotel Bartender of the Year” and one of the “Most Interesting People in Rum,” by the Caribbean Journal, Kendie also won the Patron Spirits Margarita Moments Cocktail Competition in February 2017.
Perfectly paired, the dinner progressed.
Just as the meal moved from savory to sweet, the rums Kendie served us followed suit. Our courses included Nevisian Lobster Fritters, Ceviche, Wagyu Steak Fajita, Mango’s Famous Barbecued Ribs (still dreaming of the Coconut Coleslaw) with a fascinating array of rums from Venezuela (Pampero Anniversario), St. Croix (Naked Turtle), Jamaica (Appleton Estate 21 Year Old) and Guatemala (Ron Zacapa 23 Year Old). Kendie gave us taste cues for each and every rum — and the magical matches were expertly made.
Dessert was a rich, dark confection called Suzette’s Chocolate Rum Cake (what else?) and coconut ice cream paired with Brinley Gold Shipwreck Vanilla Rum, hailing from the Nevis’ sister island of St. Kitts.
I’ve mostly experienced rum in mixed drinks, so it was a revelation to taste the differences between them on their own individual merits. On a very warm night, the rums just added to that cushy Caribbean feel, sending even more warmth through our bodies. Not quite ready to retire, we stopped at the bar for one more revelation in rum: Kendie’s Mango Mojito. With the fresh taste of mango (Nevis grows endless varieties of this fabulous fruit), it was pure island happiness through and through.