Drinking Green Rum in Beautiful Blue Curaçao

by Rebecca Rhoades
( June 30th, 2014 )


One of the things I really wanted to do on my recent visit to Curaçao was to tour Landhuis Chobolobo, the factory that produces the island’s eponymous drink: Genuine Curaçao Liqueur. After all, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Curaçao?” Caribbean? Maybe. Snorkeling? Perhaps. Colorful cocktails made with Blue Curaçao? Absolutely!

Sadly, the factory was closed during the few short days that I was in Willemstad, the country’s capital and a favorite tourist destination, thanks to both a bank holiday and a lack of weekend hours. To say that I was disappointed was putting it mildly.

But then I learned of another island specialty: green rum. I was beginning to sense a trend. It seems the people of Curaçao like their spirits like they like their buildings: colorful. But unlike Blue Curaçao, which is a staple of every bar menu from Knip Beach to Caracas Baai, there was only one place I could get green rum. So I grabbed my friends and our driver and headed to the famous Netto Bar.

Netto Bar

Located off the tourist path in the Otrobanda neighborhood of Willemstad, Netto Bar is a tiny hole-in-the-wall joint with a decidedly local flavor. Opened in 1954 by local resident Ernesto (Netto) Koster, Netto Bar has been serving its “world famous” house-made Rom Berde (Papiamento, the native language of Curaçao, for “green rum”) since its earliest days. According to Netto Bar’s history, Netto created the drink when he was a young boy.

Netto Bar rum sign

Rom Berde bottle

Not knowing what to expect, I sidled up to the bar and asked for my very own Rom Berde. Without even so much as a hello, the grumpy bartender (remember, this joint doesn’t cater to the tourist crowd) grabbed some plastic cups, filled them with ice, and proceeded to quickly pour measured shots of the brightest green liquid I’ve seen this side of antifreeze. I sniffed my cup. Sweet….very sweet. I tasted a sip. So this is what antifreeze tastes like.

Pouring green rum horiz

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t antifreeze. After all, I’m still alive. But Rom Berde tasted unlike any rum I’ve ever had before. If I had to compare it to anything, I’d say it tasted a bit like Jägermeister. Or Nyquil. Good old classic green Nyquil.

Pouring green rum verticalOf course, my barkeep wouldn’t let me in on the rum’s secret ingredients.

“What exactly is ‘green rum’?”


“Um, okay, but what makes it green?”


Blink, blink.

I asked again. “What makes it green? What gives it its color?”

You guessed it.


At that point, I gave up, grabbed my drink, and joined my friends at a small table near the bar. In the end, while the drink wasn’t to my taste—supposedly it’s more palatable when mixed with coconut water—I definitely enjoyed the ambiance away from the tourist-focused restaurants and bars. Netto Bar is the ultimate island dive bar—a fun, laid-back place to go when you’re looking to escape the hordes of cruise-ship passengers. Here, you can relax, check out a game on the small TV that hangs over the bar, and enjoy a Polar beer or, yes, even a shot of day-glo green rum. I’m glad I visited, if only for a brief moment.

But I never did find out what was in Rom Berde.


Veni, Vidi, Bibi!



All photos © Rebecca L. Rhoades
My visit to Netto’s Bar was part of a sponsored media trip. All opinions, however, are my own.

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Fabulous Faux-tinis Add Flavor to National Martini Day

by Rebecca Rhoades
( June 19th, 2014 )

Today is National Martini Day. A day to celebrate that all-American concoction of gin and vermouth. But what if you don’t like gin or vermouth…or olives, for that matter? Well, there are a number of variants on the classic martini that are created with other spirits as well as flavored liquors and fruity ingredients. You know…the appletini or choco-tini, for example. These drinks are named after the cocktail glass in which they’re served and have little else to do with the classic martini. But as much as purists want to deny them, these drinks are extremely popular. Plus, they add a little extra variety and color to any martini party.

So, in honor of drink that author E.B. White called “the elixir of quietude” — I bet you didn’t know that E.B. himself had his own preferred twist on the martini, consisting of lime juice, apricot brandy, honey, dry vermouth, and gin — I present four fabulous “Faux-tinis”.


Created by Pablo Villareal at Jazz at Kitano.

4 cherry tomatoes
1 dried red chile pepper
8-10 cilantro leaves
Pinch of salt
2 oz. Grey Goose vodka
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup

In a cocktail shaker, muddle together cherry tomatoes, dried chile pepper, cilantro leaves and salt. Add Grey Goose, lime juice, lemon juice and simple syrup and ice. Shake. Garnish with a cilantro leaf





Recipe and photo courtesy of Ungava Canadian Premium Gin.

2 oz. Ungava gin
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. maraschino liqueur
¼ oz. crème de violette
Edible orchid for garnish

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with the edible orchid.




Recipe and photo courtesy of BRIO Tuscan Grille.

2 oz. Sobieski (or favorite non-flavored) vodka
½ oz. peach schnapps
½ oz. peach daiquiri/peach puree
½ oz. Sierra Mist
2 fresh strawberry slices

Combine vodka, peach schnapps, and peach daiquiri in shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Float Sierra Mist on top. Garnish with strawberry slices.




Recipe created by Kim Haasarud, Liquid Architecture for Sobieski. Photo courtesy of Sobieski.

2 oz. Sobieski Raspberry vodka
¾ oz. lime juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. pomegranate juice
Raspberry and mint sprig for garnish

Combine vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with pomegranate juice. Garnish with raspberry and mint sprig.





Veni, Vidi, Bibi!


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Celebrate National Martini Day

by Rebecca Rhoades
( June 18th, 2014 )

Martini splash

“Shaken, not stirred.”

We all know this famous line from many James Bond movies. It’s how our spy hero preferred his martinis. And this Thursday, June 19, bartenders across the country will probably be hearing that phrase over and over and over again, much to their chagrin, as we celebrate National Martini Day.

But what exactly is a martini? And was 007 risking incurring the wrath of his favorite barkeep by asking for it stirred?

Bartender pouring martini

For some guidance, I turned to one of Philadelphia’s top bartenders, Katie Loeb,  cocktail creator extraordinaire and author of Shake, Stir, Pour: Fresh Homegrown Cocktails. Traditionally, a martini is made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Loeb agrees.

“A martini is Old School. It’s gin, not vodka, and it absolutely has vermouth in it,” she says. “It can also contain a drop or two of orange bitters.” And for a garnish? Loeb recommends “really good housemade cocktail onions; olives; or a twist of lemon, orange, or grapefruit as the drinker likes.”

As for James Bond, well, lets just say he’s probably not a bartender’s best friend (although shaking is so commonplace that it’s considered normal by many). Shaking a martini leaves the drink cloudy; stirring retains the texture of the ingredients, and the drink remains clear. The late British playwright and novelist W. Somerset Maugham is known for saying that “a martini should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.” For Loeb, a martini “needs to be stirred until it’s the texture of motor oil.”

Four martinis

FUN FACT: I’ll bet you didn’t even know that a shaken martini isn’t even a martini at all. It’s a Bradford.

While recipes vary according ratio of gin to vermouth, ranging anywhere from 3:1 to 12:1 or more, the most common is 2 oz. gin to 1 oz. vermouth. In his 2008 book Everyday Drinking, the late great British writer Kingsley Amis wrote, “Rockefeller and his chums probably drank equal parts of gin and vermouth. Since then, people have come to prefer their Martinis drier and drier, i.e. with less and less vermouth. Sixteen parts gin to one vermouth is nowadays considered quite normal. Anyway, that’s about how I like it. Finding out by experiment the precise balance you favour is no great ordeal. Don’t hurry it.”

Another tip for making the best martini: Pre-chill the glass prior to cocktail hour. I recommend leaving a glass in the freezer for a couple hours before use. This helps the drink remain cold (another reason why some people prefer shaking to stirring; shaking increases convection, making the drink colder than if it were stirred).

So however, you like it—dry, dirty (with olive juice or olive brine), or perfect—this Thursday, make sure to tip your glass to the drink writer H.L. Mencken called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”

Martinis and olives

And coming on Thursday: In recent years, there has been a big trend towards incorporating other spirits, such as vodka or even flavored liquors in so-called martinis. These “-tini” drinks are named after the cocktail glass in which they’re served, and while they may not be “martinis” in the truest sense of the recipe, there’s no denying that they’re extremely popular. So if you’re not a fan of gin, vermouth, or olives, check back for a selection of some fun, colorful, and downright delicious “Faux-tinis.”


Veni, Vidi, Bibi!


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