Dwayne Allen and Danielle Leoni bring a taste of the Caribbean to downtown Phoenix via The Breadfruit and Rum Bar -- the one a cheery Jamaican restaurant and the other a cozy hideaway featuring more than 100 brands of premium rum. Now that summer is in full swing, the two have decided customers need something else -- namely, liquor and possibly lots of it -- to put them in an Islands state-of-mind.
To that end, they've launched "a-RUM-a-therapy," a social hour (aka happy hour) based on a weekly changing rum punch ($5) and small plates ($6), offered every weekday from 5-7 pm.
In honor of the new program, Allen held a little soiree at Rum Bar last week, passing hors d'oeuvres and ladling out two different punches, both of them super-refreshing and dangerously smooth going down.
Here's what we drank:
The first punch was made with Matusalem (a premium Caribbean rum founded in Cuba but now produced in the Dominican Republic), hand-squeezed pineapple, lime and grapefruit juices, thyme, blueberries, house-made cherry infusion and lemon blossom tincture with a float of Myers Rum. Delicious and very tropical.
But it was the second punch that had everyone a-twitter -- a wonderfully aromatic concoction of Appleton Estate Jamaican rum, Maya's beets, oranges and pimento berry tincture. Pimento berries are the dried unripe fruit of the pimento tree which becomes allspice when ground.
Allen got up to welcome everyone, encouraging the room of foodies and media people to "think of us as your summer escape" -- and going on to explain that rum punches are standard in the tropics, and that different families have their own favorite recipes.
He also claimed that rum punch is to the Islands what Sangria is to Spain, Limoncello to Italy and Pastis to Southern France.
Punches are made ahead of time and allowed to sit overnight so that "the ingredients get friendly," according to Allen. "That's where the party is," he says.
A recent punch contained Maya's yellow beets, hand-squeezed pineapple (infinitely better than the commercial product) and lavender. Sounds amazing.