The places we call home tend to shape us. From the people we encounter there to the spirits we drink, each moment immersed in a particular environment is a moment when that setting brushes off on you, leaving an irrevocable mark.
There’s no place where this is truer than the Caribbean island of Barbados, the home of Mount Gay Rum.
Since 1703, Mount Gay Rum has honored the natural elements of Barbados: the water, the sugarcane, and the airborne yeast. 320 years ago, Mount Gay Rum drilled its first and only well. In the centuries since then, thousands of gallons of water have been brought to the surface from coral caverns nestled hundreds of feet below the island. Without the island, Mount Gay Rum would not exist. As the world’s oldest rum distillery, situated in the birthplace of rum, Mount Gay’s distinct and bold flavors are influenced by its home in Barbados.
Inspired by the symbiotic relationship between Barbados and Mount Gay Rum and in the spirit of competition, with Collectif 1806 and in partnership with VinePair, the 2023 “A Taste of Home” Cocktail Competition asks bartenders to craft a cocktail that focuses on locality, sustainability, and what home means to you.
“This theme allows bartenders to tell a story close to their heart and keeps in mind that utilizing local ingredients is the best way to keep sustainability in our everyday lives. One ingredient might be sustainable for somewhere in California, but would not be somewhere in Colorado,” says Jones Long, an ambassador for Collectif 1806.
Six finalists will have the opportunity to travel to Barbados to visit the Mount Gay Rum distillery and soak in the island’s heritage while competing for the national title.
‘A Taste of Home’ Cocktail Competition
Whether it’s the city you were born in or simply the place that has your heart, the definition of “home” is up to you.
Like Mount Gay Rum, which prides itself on being a responsible steward of the land, your cocktail should be crafted with sustainability in mind. In Barbados, Mount Gay Rum is committed to transparent practices that ensure the livelihood of future generations. From goals like using 100 percent renewable energy by 2028 to growing a “food forest” with local produce for the team that helps craft Mount Gay Rum, social responsibility is paramount.
For Peter Hannah, the 2022 competition winner, that meant examining what sustainability truly means. “Sustainability isn’t just about using your trash and expecting the public to get excited about paying for it,” he says. “Sustainability is about developing practices that allow the natural world to re-wild itself to restore an equilibrium that existed prior to the mid-20th century when population and habit became a big problem.”
Hannah’s winning cocktail, the “Urbanized Chaos,” tapped Florida businesses for its ingredients — banana bread from a nearby bakery, mango skins and pits from a juice bar, and hops from a local brewery, to name just a few.
“[Sustainability] is a communal effort, which is something I tried to stress in my cocktail; how businesses in our towns can ally with each other to form a larger solution rather than just looking at a paper straw and going, ‘See, I get it!’”
For bartenders interested in submitting a cocktail recipe to the 2023 Mount Gay Rum Cocktail Competition, be sure to look over the rules and submission guidelines before sending in your entry.
No matter where you live, your cocktail should embody what home means to you. For bartenders hesitant about entering the competition, Hannah has this to say: “Don’t be. You don’t lose anything either way and if you make it [to the final round], you get to experience something that’s truly next level. To have visited the oldest rum distillery on Earth on the beautiful island of Barbados, all while getting first-hand exposure to Bajan culture, was truly something I’ll take with me forever.”
This article is sponsored by Mount Gay Rum.