An Epic Journey with Appleton Estate

An Epic Journey with Appleton Estate

Thursday, July 25, 2019

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Last summer Harper's Bazaar declared rum the “drink of 2018”, and in the same year, global rum sales finally surpassed the USD 1-billion mark with Jamaican rum leading the pack. This increase in popularity has, in part, to do with the fact that millennials, especially those in the United States and the UK, are opting for spirits instead of beer and wine as their choice tipple. Appleton Estate understands not only rum but also its diverse client base as well as global changes. It was with this in mind that millennials were the focus of the celebrated Jamaican rum company's second Epic Grill 'N' Chill event at Konoko Falls on Saturday, July 13.

The invitation promised a delectable menu paired with exquisite cocktails. The meal was produced via the team effort of Lisa and Chris Binns of Stush in the Bush and Alexa von Strolley of Tooksie Kay Catering. The cocktails, which were paired with each course, were hand-selected by Appleton Estate's Senior Blender David Morrison. Side note: the beguiling décor and photo-worthy tablescapes were executed by Aisha Panton of Pussbackfoot. The whole thing was shutterbait, and the influencers in attendance were helpless against Panton's Pavlovian transformation of the grounds.

Guests were offered on arrival, ice-cold jelly coconuts, branded with Appleton Estate's logo, of course, with rum. This refreshing start to the event made it easier for guests to participate in the digital scavenger hunt (remember, millennials) which encouraged guests to take and upload selfies at six spots on the property. The first tasty morsel was courtesy of von Strolley — roasted pumpkin spring rolls with corn and cheese. Delish.

After an hour of mingling, guests took their places around tables — some high-tops, some traditional and some low, Japanese-style. The first course came from the duo who, like good parents, encourages us to eat our veggies. Lisa and Chris Binns offered guests red onion lollipops with Scotch bonnet aïoli and fresh parsley, and grilled jerk mushrooms with fresh herbs, lemon and cherry tomato confit on a bed of Zionites Farm greens with basil vinaigrette.

There, too, was grilled pumpkin bread (genius) that guests could slather, I mean dip in melted (the sun was relentless, so like any good chef Binns rolled with what nature doled out) vegan butter. Also on the table was Stush in the Bush's famous Blow Fyah gourmet pepper sauce. As you may have noticed, almost everything in the first course was grilled, and each element was well-executed, perfectly seasoned and delicious. The tasty first course was paired with an Appleton Reserve the Heat cocktail; with notes of citrus and chilli, it paired very well with the appetisers.

Stush in the Bush followed this up with oh-so-delicious grilled watermelon skewers with feta and fresh mint which was paired with a cucumber cooler that was bright, crisp and refreshing like a cucumber-kissed Tom Collins, but of course with rum instead of gin.

Next up: Alexa von Strolley. The meal continued with crispy chicken tenders made with hormone-free Best Dressed Chicken tossed in a molasses and orange barbecue sauce, which was served alongside Dutch pot cornbread with a sesame topping. Not to take the Lord's name in vain, but Jesus was this good! Sticky, not too sweet, with just enough saltiness to make you want to sip more of Joy's Cocktail with which it was paired. Just when you thought this was a tough act to follow there came roasted crispy pork belly with ssamjang coconut milk dipping sauce, served with jerk kimchi fried rice with mandarin. In the words of young people, the dish “sell-off!” The pork and fried rice were paired with Appleton's Signature Rum Punch. According to Morrison, “What would an Appleton event be without rum punch?” Sir, we never want to know the answer to that question!

Von Strolley ended the meal with Appleton Estate Reserve Blend-soaked pineapple on sugarcane skewers that were roasted tableside (fun!) and delightful, creamy and delicious Horlicks ice cream pops. The dessert course brought the kid out of everyone and was the ideal segue into a night of dancing and drinking even more rum.

Events like Epic Grill 'N' Chill allow Appleton to connect with members of its target demographic in an intimate setting and demonstrate that, like wine, rum has its place within the world of food pairings. Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum Marketing Manager Telicia Lindo-Johnson noted that following the global trend of the “premiumisation of rum” the company wanted a “fun, casual setting for rum and food pairings that appeal to millennials”. Not only was the event appealing, but everyone in attendance was in good spirits.

Not to say we told you so but The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards presented two awards to Leading Ladies in Rum at the 2019 staging of the event.

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