Last week I had the privilege of attending a fun and unique event. Captain Morgan has recently released a new type of rum into their arsenal for sale in the United States: Captain Morgan Black. I was fortunate enough to be invited to an event celebrating the release of this liquor with mixologist Toby Maloney at a Tampa area location I’d been dying to see for myself: Ciro’s Speakeasy. I have heard of Ciro’s in the past, but have never been able to visit. When I think of a speakeasy, I think of secret doors and passwords…and Ciro’s delivers just that. There are no signs or any markings outside to indicate that there is anything inside…just a wooden door (which, in itself, is found around a corner in a random location on the bottom floor of an apartment complex). When you get brave enough to ring the doorbell, a slot in the door opens up and someone whispers from behind it, asking for a password (you get one when you make a reservation). You are then escorted into a special little gem of a supper club…and you feel transformed to a completely different time. The lighting is dark and cozy, the bar is a focal point, and there are also nooks and crannies to escape to (there are curtained booth areas you can sit at for privacy). It is so amazing! But, on to the event!
As soon as we arrived, the first beverage was served to us: a cup of rum punch (with Captain Morgan Black, of course)! It was fruity and wonderful – and packed a kick (although you couldn’t even tell there was rum in it, if you asked me)! It would be a perfect drink to prepare for a party in the summertime.
After the punch was served and all of the attendees were seated and ready, the food and drinks continued! To start, Toby served everyone a glass of Captain Morgan Black on the rocks to obtain a “base line,” if you will. Being able to taste the rum by itself was a nice touch, and I actually have to admit that I even enjoyed it that way! I have to note: Ciro’s has more than one type of ice in the bar – what is served in each drink depends on what it contains! The Captain Morgan Black on the rocks was served with extra large cubes of ice: they melt slower, so your drink gets diluted less quickly. Nice!
As we sipped the rum, a few treats happened to arrive on our table. At first glance, you might just see this and think it is regular, run of the mill popcorn. It wasn’t. The popcorn at Ciro’s is popped fresh and then tossed in truffle oil. As soon as I put the first bite in my mouth, I immediately had a reaction (a good one): the flavor was unlike anything I’d had on popcorn before (hey, I’m used to plain and buttered. I’m a simple soul).
Rumor has it that if you are on your way to a movie after drinking/dining at Ciro’s Speakeasy, they will pop you a batch and bag it up for you to take to the theater! I’d totally be up for that…
We were also treated to a few other appetizers: some steak tartare (which Justin reported was tasty)…
…and some asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with aioli. Fresh, classic, and delicious:
Meanwhile, we were served the next drink of the evening: the Old Fashioned. Apparently I don’t have any documentation of this drink, but it was certainly something I’d never tried before! By the way, have you ever heard about the history of the Old Fashioned? Apparently the Old Fashioned is really the “original” cocktail…over the years we have embellished it and changed it with our fancy ingredients. A cocktail used to have only 5 ingredients (the same ones): liquor (usually bourbon, scotch, or whiskey), sugar, water, bitters, and ice…with a fruit garnish. Sometimes simple is wonderful, right?
Anyway, the next cocktail to be served to us was the Black and Honey…and it was my favorite drink of the evening! Locally sourced clover honey was used in this drink, and it was amazing – sweet and easy to drink (danger, Will Robinson…).
Around this time, the most amazing item was delivered to our table: chicken and waffle sliders. Be still, my heart. The combination is to die for, and Ciro’s does them just right. The chicken is all natural, organic, cage-free chicken breast that is lightly battered and fried, served between two fluffy waffles and drizzled with a slightly spicy sauce. I honestly was mourning the fact that I only got to eat one of the sliders: I could have taken down an entire plate of them on my own.
Thankfully, some mini crab cakes were on the way to our table (I loved the presentation: the river rock bed for the spoons was pretty!) and they were the perfect little bite:
Our final cocktail served up by Toby that evening was another classic: the Manhattan…but with a Captain Morgan Black twist to it. Manhattans are usually created using whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. However, in place of whiskey, Toby used the Captain Morgan Black rum. Yum!
Of course, we couldn’t leave without dessert: the staff at Ciro’s presented us with mini bowls filled with pound cake, honey, and fresh berries: can you really go wrong with that?
At that point, it was time to head home after a wonderful evening! I hope you are all going to keep your eyes peeled for Captain Morgan Black to hit your store shelves so you can create your own cocktails! Thanks again to the folks promoting Captain Morgan Black and the staff at Ciro’s Speakeasy – the night was absolutely fantastic!
Have you ever been to a notably different bar or restaurant? What was it?