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To find out more about London's rum and rum mixer scene, QUBA spoke to Simon Dacey, General Manager and Head Bartender at Trailer Happiness.
In mid-July Trailer Happiness and some of its neighbours on the Portobello Road suffered catastrophic flooding. While refurbishments take place, you can find Trailer's pop up, A Little Happiness, in the same location.
Explaining the pop-up, Simon says "it's essentially Trailer condensed. The same cozy atmosphere, a good rum selection, and crushable drinks you can enjoy either in our space or to take away. We're operating 1-9:30 Friday-Sunday alongside a host of takeovers around the country."
1. Can you introduce us to Trailer Happiness?
Trailer Happiness is West London’s rum escape, a cozy neighbourhood getaway featuring over 300 rums from across the world, supported by a world-class cocktail menu and a lively, knowledgeable staff.
2. How did you come to run the bar? What's your story?
I’ve worked in hospitality for around 4 years, and joined Trailer in the middle of 2019. Having met owner Sly Augustin at the New York Rum Festival, I spent 6 months building myself up and drawing as much knowledge from the stellar team as possible. After a failed attempt to travel the world at the start of 2020, I came back in August as a bartender, gradually rebuilding my confidence until the winter.
I used the winter lockdown to crack on with a lot of behind-the-scenes organisation and restructuring, and when the time came to reopen Sly invited me to take the reins and be his General Manager.
3. Why do you love working with rum?
Rum is a huge category with inherent diversity, meaning there is a bottle for every palate. Sugar cane spirits have a strong sense of place, with each country and distillery making unique products to fit a different niche, which naturally opens lots of doors when experimenting with different flavour combinations and designing new drinks.
4. Do you have a signature cocktail and which is the most popular?
I am constantly playing with drink ideas and chopping and changing classics, but my favourite drink to work with has to be the Mai Tai. Altering the blend of rums even slightly can result in wildly different drinks, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve to suit everybody’s expectations.
5. Do you have a favourite rum to recommend to our readers?
Appleton Estate 12 Year. I’m a bit of an Appleton fanboy, and the 12 year is absolute class. Big oaky notes any spirit lover would enjoy, lots of fruit and funk you’d expect from a Jamaican Rum, all at a price that won’t hurt your wallet. Enjoy it neat, with your favourite mixer as a highball, or mixed into pretty much any rum cocktail.
6. Is there a gap in the market for a rum mixer, and why? For you, which flavours go best with rum, but aren't readily available?
Looking at the traditional and surprisingly simple drinks of the Caribbean especially, there is a wide market that remains untouched by most mixer brands.
Tonic is finally stepping up and proving itself as a partner for many rum styles, but people will always default to coke or ginger as their rum mixer. Why not sorrel, or coconut, or mauby? People are aware of these flavours and are using them, but not nearly to their full potential.
7. 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 undergoing the same meteoric rise gin went through a few years ago, with consumer tastes demanding more entertaining flavours and wanting to have a more diverse choice in what they drink.
At Trailer Happiness we are pushing for the recognition and appreciation of authentic rums, working with brands who champion transparency and quality in their products and helping show people what is possible with little more than sugar cane, yeast, and time.