A Polished Crowd comes to Rum Fest

by Jill DeGroff

Earlier this month I attended the Polished Palate’s Festival of Rum at Valbella restaurant down on W. 13th street, a stunning property with waitstaff so charming, so Italian, that I was swept off my feet before I even got to the rum…

There were over  twenty different rums showcased  and at each table stood a knowledgeable person to introduce guests to the product The crowd that attended was diverse in age and ethnicity, and there to listen and learn. This indeed was refreshing and indicative of the much more sophisticated, educated approach given to spirits these days.

The high point of the evening was the Contemporary Cocktails presentation given on behalf of the Museum of the American Cocktail by popular mixologists Willy Shine and Aisha Sharpe. Willy and Aisha started their company a short time ago and have since  turned it into a gobal enterprise that keeps them traveling constantly.    what pleases them most is having the freedom to play with ingredients, explore, take on interesting new products that are not necessarily well known and embrace the challenge of putting them on the map. And  with so many new ingredients coming on the market, it’s always interesting. They have recently become brand ambassadors for Partida Tequila so in addition to their busy consulting business and bar training sessions they will also be spreading the word of Agave…

Working a table outside the presentation room was Leo DeGroff, pouring the featured cocktails from the presentation for the busy crowd, an assortment of delicious cocktails featuring Depaz Rhum, Sagatiba, and Barsol Pisco,  (of course pisco is not a cane spirit but it was happily included in the presentation).  Beverage consultant Jerri Banks was at one of the tasting tables, sampling an agricole rhum and commented: “It’s great to see spirits like Cachaca coming into its own along with more of the Agricole rums, which signifies to me, a more sophisticated consumer understanding of regionality and purity, both of which bode well for the state of spirits in general and cane spirits in particular. “

Other talented mixologists  in attendance were Colin Asare-Appiah, a founding member of the London Academy of BartendersJonathan PogashKentu from Pegu Club,  and Camille Broderick from Moët Hennessy USA .

Dori Bryant, one of the hardest working women in the business pulled together an excellent event  and  she’ll be doing it again in November down in Florida so check out: www.polishedpalate.com and make sure you mark your calendars.

Here are some of the original cocktails presented by Aisha Sharpe and Willy Shine of  Contemporary Cocktails:

Pisco Port Cocktail

  • .5oz fresh lemon juice
  • .25oz agave nectar
  • .75oz ruby port
  • 2oz Barsol Quebrenta

Add all ingredients into the shaker, shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon flame.


Mixed Berry Caipirinha 

  • 1/2  a lime, quartered
  • blackberry, blueberry, strawberry mix
  • 2 bar spoons of sugar
  • 2oz Sagatiba

Muddle limes, berries and sugar in the pint glass add cachaca and shake well. Pour all contents into an old fashion glass.



  • 1.5 oz Sagatiba Pura
  • .75 oz fresh lemon
  • 1 oz honey syrup (3-1 honey to water)
  • .75 oz pomegranate juice
  • 1.5 oz sparkling water

Add all ingredients into the shaker, shake and strain over fresh ice in a highball glass and top with sparkling water. Garnish with lemon peel.


Beso Ultimo

  • 1 1/4 ounce Partida Añejo Tequila
  • 1/4 ounce fresh lemon
  • 1/4 ounce agave nectar
  • 1 ounce Lillet
  • Mionetto Prosecco
  • Garnish lemon twist

Build all ingredients, shake and strain into a flute, top with Prosecco and garnish with twist

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