Barfly: Keep Filipino Food Week in Hawaii going, thanks to Kasama Rum

Barfly: Keep Filipino Food Week in Hawaii going, thanks to Kasama Rum

As someone with Filipino heritage, the concept of Filipino Food Week isn’t necessarily that special. 

I mean, I eat adobo and sinigang on a regular basis anyway. Thanks to my upbringing, my wife and my in-laws, I’ve had plenty of exposure to the finest Filipino cuisine. So for me, Filipino Food Week was all about the DEALS… and there were plenty!

But I did learn something new this year. Along with so many other things, Filipinos are also very enterprising when it comes to producing liquor. Until now, I had never thought about looking to the Philippines when it came to getting inebriated. 

I don’t know why, because I’ve had lots of fun drinking with my pinoy and pinay brothers and sisters over the years! And while I’ve had my share of San Miguel and Red Horse beers, I didn’t realize there were a number of distilleries in operation, as well.

For example… did you know Tanduay rum has been in production for more than 150 years in the Philippines? And as of 2019, that brand sells the most in the world by volume?

Alexandra Dorda, 29, grew up in the liquor industry. Her father founded Belvedere and Chopin vodkas, which provided her with a unique opportunity when launching her brand, Kasama rum.

Distilled and aged in the Philippines, Kasama is shipped in bulk to Poland where it is bottled, labeled, packaged and shipped to the United States for sale. 

“I identified this gap in the rum market,” Dorda told Honolulu Magazine back in April. “I always loved rum, but I didn’t feel like there was a rum that was speaking to me.

“Rum is sort of a category that’s been left behind. … I feel like rum has been forgotten about and so my goal is really to bring fun back to the rum category.” 

Kasama uses the Noble strain of sugarcane, aging its distillate for seven years in ex-bourbon barrels made from American oak. Like rum agricole, it relies on the juice from sugarcane to produce its product rather than molasses, which results in pineapple, banana and caramel flavors in the finished product.

Dorda hosted a virtual tasting in April for the Filipino Consulate in Hawaii via Zoom, where she said there are no additives, additonal sweeteners or extra flavoring in her rum — all those sweetness you’ll taste comes from the sugarcane and aging process. 

“I always loved rum but I didn’t feel like there was a rum that was speaking to me,” Dorda said. “They all have pirates on them or sailors or ships and things and I just wanted something that was more modern.”

When she discovered the Philippines had a long tradition of rum production, she landed on the concept for her own brand.

“Rum is sort of a category that’s been left behind. There are lots of fantastic vodkas and whiskey brands and tequila is certainly having a huge resurgence, but I feel like rum has been forgotten about and so my goal is really to bring fun back to the rum category,” she said. 

With a suggested retail price under $30, this rum is a great option if you’re looking to make cocktails that will definitely do the job while also presenting itself as a tasty ingredient that will impress the cocktail crowd at your next party.

Looking for inspiration? Give this Masaya Daiquiri a try. After two or three of these, you’ll definitely be masaya, or “joyful” in Tagalog, thanks to this drink!

The guava puree helps to add a layer of sweetness, while the addition of Ko Hana Kea agricole rum gives this drink the punch it needs. Fresh lime also helps cut the sweetness, as does the additional bitters at the end of the process. 

Masaya Daiquiri

  • 1 1/2 ounce Kasama rum
  • 1 1/2 ounce Ko Hana Kea rum
  • 1 1/2 ounce fresh guava puree
  • 1/2 ounce coconut cream syrup
  • 1/2 ounce ginger syrup
  • 1 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 5 dashes citrus bitters
  • 5 dashes tiki bitters
  • Mint for garnish

Directions:
Add rum, guava puree, coconut cream syrup, ginger syrup, lime juice and citrus bitters to a mixing tin filled with ice. 
Shake vigorously and strain into a highball glass. Add tiki bitters and garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

DON’T HAVE access to guava? Here’s another daiquiri option that is a little bit easier to make with ingredients easily found at your neighborhood market.

Kasama Kiss

  • 1 1/2 ounce Kasama rum
  • 2 ounces lemon sour mix (store-bought will work)
  • 3/4 ounce orgeat (store-bought will work)
  • 1 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 4 dashes tiki bitters (Angostura bitters will work)

Directions:
Add rum, sour mix, orgeat and lime juice to a mixing tin filled with ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass and add tiki bitters. 

(Note: Want a more “traditional” daiquiri? Skip the extra ice and rocks glass and serve yours in a coupe. Be sure to garnish with a lime wheel if you go this route.)

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