Steve and Patrick Bennett travel the Caribbean, discover interesting places, take cool photos, drink great rum and write about it!! Check out our interview!!
How and when did you become interested in rum?
Steve Bennett – We’re from St. Croix, home of Cruzan Rum, so basically our interest in rum started the minute we were born. Rum is ingrained in the culture of just about every Caribbean island, especially St. Croix where Cruzan Rum’s worldwide fame is a point of local pride. Plus back in our teenage years, rum was actually cheaper than beer or even coke. During our perpetually broke teenage years, rum was the easy choice.
Patrick Bennett – I second that. I remember (barely) too many nights spent drinking Cruzan as a teenager on the beach, in the bush, or at the Sunny Isle gas station… And the associated shenanigans that resulted. Rum is in our blood.
How many rums are in your collection?
Steve – You always want to accept pet-sitting duties for someone traveling to St. Croix, because invariably they will always bring you back some rum. I have six bright and shinny new bottles of Cruzan aged rum, hand-delivered straight from St. Croix, at my house right now. I also have bottles of Royal Oak and Forres Park, both from Trinidad, El Dorado from Guyana, Rhum Clement from Martinique and even a bottle of Cave Rum from the Turks & Caicos. Oh yeah, and a bottle of Sea Wynde, which is a pot still rum that’s a product of Jamaica and Guyana.
Patrick – Collection is such a funny word… I don’t collect rum, I drink it! A bottle doesn’t last long in my house. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ron Zacappa 23 años, 1919, El Dorado, Chairmans, Scarlet Ibis or Cockspur V.S.O.R Vintage Blend—rum is too delicious for me to collect.
What is your favourite rum (or rums) in each category and why?
Steve – As a born and bred Crucian, I am all about Cruzan Rum. Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum tops my list, of course, but I also really like the rhum agricole blends from Martinique. They’re very different from molasses-based rums like Cruzan, offering a nice change of pace.
Patrick – I second the Cruzan Single Barrel praise, but with our Trinidadian heritage I’m not ashamed to say that Angostura 1919 rum is a close second. It’s not the most expensive in my “collection”, but this anejo blend is tops for me.
Do you have a favorite rum bar?
Steve – I probably have too many! High on my list would have to be the lobby bar at the Hotel Bakoua in Martinique. It sits in the hotel’s main building, which is a former plantation house dating back to the island’s colonial era. There’s lots of furniture emulating the rich history of the place with rich mahogany and wicker everywhere. The big draw, though, is the view. You’re up on a bluff looking over an infinity pool across the bay at Martinique’s capital city, Fort-de-France. It’s a gorgeous view, especially at night with the twinkling lights of the city in the distance, and a great place to enjoy a Ti-Punch, the island’s signature drink.
Patrick – Most definitely, too many. Right now, I like visiting Cienfuegos while in New York. When I’m in the islands, I love the small rum shacks like the ones that line the roads of Barbados.
What is your regular cocktail?
Steve – Nothing says home, as in St. Croix, more to me than a nice, strong rum and coke. When I get together with my Crucian friends, that’s pretty much all we drink, and it always feels like we never left the island.
Patrick – My favorite way to drink rum is straight. On ice, if it’s a hot day. Any great rum should be delicious just as is… though I have been known to brave a well crafted dark and stormy on occasion…
Where is the best place to buy rum in your area?
Steve – I live in South Florida, so there are lots of great places. Big Daddy’s, Crown Liquor, Wine, Spirits & More — all have great selections.
Patrick – Yeah, it’s the same for NYC. Great rum is in any liquor store worth it’s salt.
Which rum would you travel to buy?
Steve – Right now it would have to be Cruzan 9, the new spiced rum that just came out last week. It’s not on shelves here in the states yet, but if I heard it was available in St. Croix, well, that’d be as good an excuse as any to head home.
Patrick – I can buy pretty much any rum in NYC, so travel is really unnecessary except in the case of a new rum like Cruzan 9. I’m really intrigued by this successor to their Cruzan Clipper rum, so yeah, I’d head down to STX for this one rather than wait for it to reach NYC.
When did you launch Uncommon Caribbean.com and what is your focus?
Steve – We started Uncommon Caribbean back in February, and it officially launched March 1, 2010. Our whole intention is to spotlight special/surprising, yet virtually unknown aspects of Caribbean travel and culture that we think might appeal to today’s young and adventurous traveler. You know, educated and globally aware travelers who appreciate foreign cultures and travel in large part to experience them, not just to get a bitchin’ tan.
Patrick – Stephen basically said it all, the only thing I would add is that we take a very personal approach to educating people about the Caribbean (it is our home after all) and I think that makes a big difference. You might be able to learn about roti, or Ting, or goat racing, or surfing in Barbados somewhere else, but you’d be missing the perspective we bring having grown up there.
What should we watch out for on Uncommon Caribbean in the coming months?
Steve – For one thing, more rum and inventive cocktail creations from our resident mixologist, Jesse Card. For another thing, more travel and on-site reports. So far this year we’ve traveled to Nevis, Martinique, Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia and Jamaica, filing stories on the uncommon things we’ve found along the way. In the next few months, we hope to visit St. Maarten/St. Martin, Aruba, Montserrat, Grand Bahama, Puerto Rico, Belize, and maybe even squeeze in a trip home to St.Croix. These on-site reports are definitely our most popular stories as they give readers a true, “here and now” sense of what uncommon things they might want to explore on their next trip to the Caribbean.
Words of wisdom….etc….
We post new bits of wisdom on Uncommon Caribbean every single day… Tune in…