The other day, my girlfriend and I checked out a new restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Madaleine Mae has been open since Super Tuesday (even if its website is emblazoned "Fall 2007"), and serves up some tasty Southern food including superb fried chicken, some very good succotash, and even an appetizer consisting of some perfectly-cooked huge sweet Carolina shrimp, served on the New York Post. (!)
But this isn't a gastroblog, after all -- it's a cocktail blog. And the reason I'm mentioning this place is because they give "rhum cures" top billing on their website, their beverage list, and even on their signage above the restaurant's door. Infused liquors are big right now, and Madaleine Mae's approach is interesting: a "rhum cure" is simply rum that's cold-steeped or infused with various other flavors -- vanilla, cinnamon, and various tropical fruits all figure prominently. The fabric-topped bottles behind the bar contain eleven different variations on the theme, among them the Goyave Punch (described as "a calming remedy for nerviosity") that consists of rum infused with guava, carambola, passion fruit, and ginger root, the "Esprit Clair" (mango, guava, bay leaf, vanilla, and tamarind), and the "L’extrémité" (anise, cinnamon, vanilla.)
My girlfriend and I had an "Amour Pur" (vanilla, cinnamon, bois bande, and maybe some sugar syrup), and a "Restoration" (vanilla, ginger root, cloves, juniper berries) and enjoyed them very much. The Restoration was particularly interesting, with the predominate clove note added to the ginny tang of the juniper -- it was like a Pink Gin, but with a lot more going on in the glass.
I talked with the owner's wife after our meal, and she told me that they were inspired by the rhum cures they'd had while vacationing in Guadeloupe, and that these rhum cures were more than just cocktails -- they're looked on by Guadeloupeans (Guadeloupois? Guadeloupes?) as folk medicine. And apparently they're not just home remedies, also have something of a mystical element, too, as in voodoo or Santeria.
At any rate, homemade infused liquors are big right now, and this was a take on the trend that I enjoyed greatly. The bar also has a large selection of fine rums, and I'm already plotting my return.