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Robin Honhold, the renowned liquid developer, helped inspire the flavours and created the recipes of QUBA's rum mixers.
In this Q&A, we spoke to him about about this process, his background in the drinks industry and why the UK rum industry is on such an impressive rise.
1. How did you come to work in the cocktail/drinks industry? What's your story?
Working in restaurants and bars through university gave me a set of skills that could easily take me around the world into lots of cultures and experiences. The more I learnt the more I was fascinated. Returning home took me through stints in some of the world's best bars and taught me how to approach making drinks to rival the best in the world. Then I decided to apply this knowledge to commercial drinks products, so that consumers could access a wider variety of drinks made with the same attention to detail those same consumers are willing to pay top dollar for in the world's best bars.
2. Why do you love working with rum?
Rum is full of history, but the main reason is how it lends itself to super vibrant drinks and occasions. Rum is one of the least snooty and at the same time hugely versatile products – meaning you can have a serious time getting your nose into a glass of it, or get wild with big bright flavours for a seriously good time.
3. Do you have a signature cocktail and which is the most popular?
Hell no. But if pushed, a Manhattan will always be my first choice. If its rum, Daiquiris are a great ice breaker.
4. Do you have a favourite rum to recommend to our readers?
5. Is there a gap in the market for a rum mixer, and why?
Rum is lumped in with vodka as something that gets added to soda or fruit juice to make getting drunk a more palatable experience. This makes sense when you're drinking fire water – the range of rums available now that don't conform to the polar descriptions of 'flavourless' or 'extremely intense' is getting wider by the day. Hence it makes sense that what is mixed with them needs to evolve to be less of a cover up and more of a complement.
In tandem, how soft drinks are made is seeing a revolution of sorts, away from the intensely sweet to a fresher more refined style.
6. Why do you think the UK rum industry is on such a rise, and what are you doing to help spark the rum revolution?
Rum is fun! But, the historically limited options in the market suppressed interest in it – meaning it was often regarded as a sub-par choice, a navy-mans choice, a young persons choice or occasionally something that connoisseurs sought out.
A proliferation of products and brands that have allowed a new perspective on rum as a drink of choice (and its versatility) gives rise to more people buying in and hence more brands entering the market, in a bit of a snowball effect. It helps a lot that most of these new products are relatively sweet, don't polarise opinion and have no chips on their shoulder in the way that other aged spirits do (for example. tequila, scotch, cognac...).
By helping you create the recipes for QUBA's range there should be an even better option for what to mix with brands old and new, matching up with preferences for lower sugar, more refined flavours and even brighter drinking experiences. If this helps consumers move to choosing rum (and of course QUBA!) more often, then the jobs a good'n.