The Perfect Halloween Tipple - Steampunk Spirit's Voodoo Spiced Rum

Happy October everyone! It's officially spooky season (in other words, one of the best times of the year) and what better way to kick it off than with a post full of bewitching potions, good juju and just a touch of pyromancy? That's rum cocktails, a venue with a great atmosphere and the odd firepit between us non-magic folks. The Southernist and I took a trip to the "Shoreditch of the North" that is Ouseburn in Newcastle to celebrate the launch of a brand new spirit. But don't worry, there's no ghouls or poltergeists here - just the warming flavours of Steampunk Spirits' new tipple, Voodoo Spiced Rum.

Since recently deciding to return to the world of alcohol, I hadn't tried that many rums. I've been slowly introducing myself to gin (which is going pretty well, I might add), so I was very excited to try something new - especially as it had 'voodoo' in the name. New Orleans, famous for voodoo, is one of my favourite American cities and I have such an interest in learning about the slave trade in the 1700s and the voodoo that was brought to the Deep South from West Africa and South America, so I was eager to find out the influences behind the drink.

Spirit sorcerer and Steampunk owner, Charlie Gibbs, told us that the inspiration for this rum came from a Guyanese stranger that he met at a party in London. He said, "I met this bloke and we got on like a house on fire. We were chatting away and he said 'do you like rum? Here, have some of this...'" He was passed a bottle from a canvas holdall bag. It didn't have a label or anything to indicate what was inside, but Charlie took a sip and absolutely had to know what the magical concoction was inside. Despite the South Americans protesting when Charlie asked to know how he made it, three key ingredients were let slip - vanilla, ginger and black pepper.
He couldn't let the taste of the mysterious drink go and with those three ingredients ingrained into his taste buds, Charlie became an alchemist in his own right and set about creating a rum that tasted exactly the same. He even sourced someone that would provide him with genuine Guyanese rum, and when asked 'would you blend it with spices for me as well?", the exporter simply replied "give me the quantities." It took 17 attempts to get the rum to taste as delicious as the bewitching brew from the London party, but the trial and error paid off, making this Steampunk's first rum release.

If you're wondering about the dapper chap on the bottle, he also has a story to tell! He is Baron Samedi, a loa of the dead in Haitian Vodou and one of his main attributes is rum. He is depicted as being dressed for a Haitian style burial - with a top hat, black tail coat, dark glasses, and cotton plugs in the nostrils, but the Steampunk depiction sees him with a cigar and ready for debauchery. "He’s a bit of a guy, bit of a dude, likes a cigar, he likes rum” explained Charlie. “Often, he’ll get side tracked when leading someone into the underworld – oh there’s a party over here, we’ll stop here for a bit. That’s the whole voodoo religion. He’s a big main player in it – he’s open to bribery, get you in quicker, get you a good spot – and I thought… he’s the guy, the guy I want to be associated with.”

As for the taste, trust me when I say that's absolutely gorgeous. I can't compare to any other rums, but I tried it with ginger beer, cola and straight. When drank with the ginger beer, the warm notes were brought through. Of course, there was the distinct flavour of ginger from the mixer, but the ginger in the spirit shone through, along with the black pepper which was prominent in the aftertaste. It made for a very warm and indulgent drink. With the cola, it was the vanilla that took centre stage, resulting in a sweet flavour. And finally, trying it neat was a whole different experience. Allowing it to sit on the tongue for a while brought those warmer flavours forward, whereas if sipped, it was the vanilla that was the stronger ingredient.
So, about the venue that this launch event was held at. I don't think I've been anywhere quite like it! When looking up Arch2 Brewpub on Google, you get the impression that it's a pretty cool little spot, but it was absolutely nothing like I expected. There are two areas to it - an indoor space and an outdoor space - but you would miss it if you didn't know what you were looking for. It's tucked neatly into an arch that used to house an old tyre garage, and has a bar/tap room, a burger kitchen, a micro brewery and a beer garden, and if you knew how teeny it was, you'd understand how impressive that is! The beer garden features a couple of fire pits too, making it the perfect backdrop for such an enchanting event.

While the drinks flowed, food was served up. There was some of the spiciest goat curry I've ever tried, which didn't half warm my cockles on that chilly night, and chicken legs. It was a real Caribbean feast that went down a treat with our magic-filled glasses. As the fire crackled and the numbers in the courtyard dwindled, it was time to catch our train with our heads feeling ever so slightly fuzzy from whatever hexes and charms had been cast that night.
Steampunk's Voodoo Spiced Rum and their range of gins are available to purchase online and can also be found at a number of stockists across the country. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for any future releases. Check out Arch2 on Facebook and Instagram too!

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