Jungle Bird at Pleasant Storage RoomEat Drink Celebrate National Rum Day

Blame Christopher Columbus. He is credited with introducing sugar cane throughout the West Indies, spurring the birth of rum as the first distilled spirit in the Americas. The tropical climate of the Caribbean is perfect for growing sugar cane. It is the lifeblood of rum, which is made by distilling the derivatives of sugar cane, like molasses.

Dark and sticky as tar, molasses is fermented with yeast to make rum beer, which is then distilled and filtered. Un-aged rum, known as white, light or silver, is great in cocktails like the daiquiri, mai tai or mojito. Rum aged in charred barrels, known as gold and dark, glows its namesake deep hue and flaunts its sweetness in cocktails or when sipped alone.

Rum smells of linen dresses, ocean breezes early in the evening, crushed strawberries and vacation romances in open-air cafés. Rum has an unspoken agreement with Caribbean memories to always play a role, either as the starring actor or as an extra setting the scene. It is such a fantastic drink, it even has its own day. National Rum Day is Aug. 16.

Pleasant Storage Room is the brainchild of Paul Hargrove and John Kelly O’Hare, who worked together at East Side Show Room. The two share an affinity for rum and wanted to develop a bar that focuses on rum punch and rum cocktails. Fellow East Side Show Room veteran Alfonso Hernandez-Nicolai was brought on as bar manager and given the reigns to design the bar and visual identity. He put industrial-design graduate school on hold and threw himself headlong into his love affair with rum.

“Rum has so much diversity and is great in so many fun cocktails,” Hernandez-Nicolai says. “It’s a dynamic spirit that has been made for hundreds of years and not restricted to one style. It draws its personality from the cultural backdrop of the Caribbean, with colonialism influences on distilling from the English, Spanish, Dutch and French. In the 1950s and ’60s, rum was all about escapism. We want to recapture that feeling of paradise at home.”

Whether your heart yearns for dry-style rum from Venezuela or Panama, or heavily oaked aged rum from the U.S., you’ll find it at Pleasant Storage Room. With more than 60 labels of rum from throughout the Caribbean, you’ll find almost anything, except Bacardi. For a change of pace, try rhum agricole made with fresh sugar-cane juice instead of molasses in Martinique. This style of rum is unique because its production is regulated by the French government as coming from a certified geographic designation, or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. Rhum agricole is great in ’Ti Punch (short for Petite Punch), made with a squeeze of lime, petite cane syrup, simple syrup and rhum agricole.

“Zaya 12-Year-Old Estate Rum from Trinidad is popular,” Hernandez-Nicolai says, commenting on the hottest rums in Austin. “It’s a really accessible rum that is beautiful to drink on the rocks. Another rum that people love is Neisson rhum agricole de Martinique. It is less sweet, extremely floral and earthy like humus-rich soil, fresh cut straw. If you like scotch, try this.”

Rum punch is a specialty at the Pleasant Storage Room. Share a bowl with friends. Or try a fun tiki cocktail like Na Pali Death Toll, which is made with añejo rum, passion fruit, lime, lemon liqueur and herb salt, served with a flaming coconut for a great spectacle. Pleasant Storage Room also has a full kitchen. The menu features island street food like fried conch hushpuppies, four styles of ceviche jerk chicken and a Cubano sandwich that is out of this world.

208 W. Fourth St., 512.322.9921 pleasantrumbar.com. Open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.




Rum Punch at Pleasant Storage Room


Commodore Punch

  • 750-millileter bottle V.S.O.P. Clement Rhum Agricole
  • 750-millileter bottle Decourtet V.S.O.P. Cognac
  • 750-millileter bottle Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 750-milileters black tea 1 14 ounces raw sugar
  • 18 lemons

Directions: First, make an oleo saccharum. Start by peeling the golden yellow skin without any pith off all 18 lemons. In a large bowl, layer the peels in the sugar, then muddle until the sugar and lemon peels create a thick, oily substance without breaking the peels apart. Let it sit for at least one hour. Juice all 18 lemons and pour the juice over the oleo saccharum. Add the caramelized black tea and let sit for 30 minutes. Add all other spirits and stir for 30 minutes. Strain the punch into bottles. Once the bottles are full, add a shot of argon before they are recapped. Let them sit for a day.

Where to Celebrate Rum Day


While rum has its roots in the Caribbean, it’s made throughout the world, including in Texas. Here are a few local rums to put on your summer sipping list:

This story was originally published in the August issue of Austin Woman Magazine. It looks great in print. Pick it up on your local news stand.

What are you drinking? 



It’s always hard to overcome negative perceptions. The Texas wine industry has that problem. Despite several years of massive quality improvements that have brought home trophies and medals in prestigious competitions, Texas wine is still roundly seen as sub-par. One bad experience years ago could cause a wine lover to turn their nose up at all Texas wine.

A group of Texas wine makers is out to change that perception with a united effort to let consumers and wine experts taste just how good Texas wines are. Texas Fine Wine will co-host with Texas Monthly a hospitality suite on Sunday, August 10, at TEXSOM, the world’s largest education conference for wine professionals. The group, whose members include Bending Branch WineryBrennan VineyardsDuchman Family Winery and Pedernales Cellars, hopes to let sommeliers taste the quality for themselves. Texas Fine Wine will also pour wines for guests attending the August 11 Grand Tasting.

Fredrik Österberg Perdenales Cellars “Our focus is to bring more attention to fine wines made in Texas that can be found on the wine lists of some of the best restaurants and wine stores in the state,” says Fredrik Osterberg, co-owner of Pedernales Cellars. “We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support from the sommelier community for our wines. Sponsoring TEXSOM is one way for us to recognize the support of that community.”

Texas Fine Wine is a privately funded marketing initiative led by group of Texas wineries dedicated to producing quality wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards. This group has held special wine tasting events and for the second year will woo some of the world’s best sommeliers at TEXSOM. The backing of Texas Monthly magazine certainly helps raise the group’s profile.

“Texas Monthly is sponsoring a hospitality suite along with Texas Fine Wines as a continuation of the magazine’s involvement with TEXSOM last year,” says Jessica Dupuy, Texas Monthly wine columnist. “Each of the wineries showcased at the suite had wines selected in the 2013 list of Texas Monthly’s Best Texas Wines. There will also be a few other wineries spotlighted from this list at the conference’s Monday evening Grand Tasting including McPherson Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards, and William Chris Vineyards. We continue to see great strides in the quality of Texas wines and this is a perfect opportunity to share these wines with a national community of influential wine professionals.”

Jessica Dupuy Texas Monthly

Check out this fat list of awards amassed by Texas Fine Wine wineries in the past few years:

Brennan Vineyards

  • Gold, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Newburg Vineyard, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, W Winemakers Choice NV, 2014 Riverside International Wine Competition

Bending Branch Winery

  • Gold, 2011 Texas Tannat, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Top Texas Wine (Class Champion and Double Gold), 2011 Tannat, Estate Grown, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
  • Double Gold,  2011 Tannat-CM, Estate Grown, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Double Gold-, 2011 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Double Gold, 2012 Picpoul Blanc, Estate Grown, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Gold, 2011 Mourvedre, Reddy Vineyards, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards

 Duchman Family Winery

  • Gold, 2011 Aglianico, Oswald Vineyard, 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Sangiovese, Reddy Vineyard, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Sangiovese, Martin Vineyard, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, Bayer Vineyard, 2014 Lone Star International Wine Competition

 Pedernales Cellars

  • Double Gold, 2012 Tempranillo Reserve, 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition
  •  Gold, 2011 Texas Tempranillo, 2014 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • Gold and Best in Class, 2010 High Plains Tempranillo, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge
  • Gold, 2012 Texas GSM, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge
  •  Gold, 2012 George Bush 25th Anniversary Reserve Texas Tempranillo, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge


What are you drinking?


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