Bamboo Door: Sunday Rum Sessions

August 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Cocktail Bar | Leave a comment
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If there’s one thing I love more than a cocktail bar, it’s a themed cocktail bar, so I was excited to receive an invite to the launch of a new ‘Sunday Rum Club Session,’ at Sheffield’s very first Tiki bar, Bamboo Door. 

Bamboo Door is located in the swanky Leopold Square, inbetween Wagamama’s and the building that used to be Platillo’s. It’s a relatively small venue, but it’s surprising what Bamboo Door have managed to do with the space, without making it feel in the least bit cluttered or claustrophobic.

The Tiki decor that might have felt naff or gimmicky, is actually really fun. This is a classy Tiki bar, rather than a cheesy one. The bar in particular is fantastic; it looks like it’s been transported from some distant beach, complete with shaggy straw roof. It’s worth visiting Bamboo Door, just to experience the decor – and maybe to fantasise that you’re ordering cocktails at a beach bar in some exotic location!

I’ve visited Bamboo Door on a couple of occasions and, although this post is supposed to be about their new Sunday Rum Club Session, I can’t resist talking about how great their cocktails are first.

Bamboo Door’s cocktail menu has all the Tiki-themed classics you’d expect, including the Mai Tai, Daquiri, and Zombie, but the majority of the cocktails seem to be Bamboo Door’s own creations, which is always nice to see. You certainly can’t order a ‘Bananas in Bahamas,’ or ‘Mangoes in a Bar’ anywhere else in Sheffield!

Bamboo Door’s cocktails are characterised by lots of tropical fruit juices, and some of the most over the top garnishes I’ve ever seen. Their ‘Eat, Shoots and Leaves’ cocktail is a particular favourite, as it’s topped with a marshmallow, which the barman blow-torches behind the bar, so it arrives warm and gooey in the middle – delicious! Other garnishes include cubes of crystallised ginger; pineapple leaves; and an entire grocery store’s worth of assorted tropical fruits. Spend an afternoon in Bamboo Door, and you’re guaranteed to get your 5 a day from garnishes alone. 

Bamboo Door cocktail

Despite the extravagant toppings, Bamboo Door are also reasonable about the amount of booze they put in your drink – sometimes, innovative and quirky cocktails that utilise a long list of fresh ingredients, have a tendency to skimp on the booze, so I’m happy to report that a few cocktails at Bamboo Door will leave your head pleasantly fuzzy.

The prices of Bamboo Door’s cocktails are reasonable, particularly for somewhere like Leopold Square, and you can expect to pay between £6-£7 for most cocktails on the menu. 

But, the thing I love most about Bamboo Door, are the glasses. Bamboo Door have the coolest collection of cocktail glasses I’ve ever seen. 

Bamboo Door cocktail

Drinking a coconut cocktail out of a tall green glass shaped like a grinning totem, topped with a freshly-toasted marshmallow, isn’t an experience you can get anywhere else in Sheffield!

Bamboo Door cocktail

But, onto the main purpose of this blog – Bamboo Door’s new, once-monthly ‘Sunday Rum Session,’ where participants can learn more about the wonderful world of rum. During each session, everyone gets to sample two different kinds of rum, plus at least two cocktails, with optional soft drinks, too. Each session costs £25, or you can become a member of Bamboo Door’s ‘Rum Club,’ and pay £15. Since Rum Club membership is £10, it makes sense to become a member of Rum Club if you’re planning to attend at least one Sunday Rum Session, especially since membership entitles you to other discounts, too.

On the night of this particular rum session, we arrived at Bamboo Door early, so we decided to start the session right then and there, and ordered a round of drinks. When I noticed Bamboo Door had a special Jalapeno Margarita cocktail on offer that night, I couldn’t resist – I had to give this spicy-sounding concoction a go!

The Jalapeno Margarita arrived in a glass that was encrusted in chilli flakes. Even for a lover of spicy food like myself, this looked a little scary!

Bamboo Door Jalapeno Margarita

The drink lived up to expectations, as the chilli-coated glass burnt my mouth, while the hot margarita mix caught in the back of my throat and, embarrassingly, made me cough. This is easily one of the hottest drinks I’ve ever tasted. 

As I took cautious sips of my stinging Jalapeno Margarita, my rum session buddy examined the long list of imported beers sold at Bamboo Door. In the end, he opted for a bottle of Xingu Black (£4.20), which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Bamboo Door Xing Black

After a short wait, we were informed that rum club was about to start, and it was time to take our seats. We were introduced to Tom, who works at Bamboo Door and would be leading our rum session this evening. He kicked things off with a brief history of rum, and an overview of all the different kinds of rum that are available today.

Tom was extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about rum, and was more than happy to answer our questions. He was even willing to fetch some of the other rums from behind the bar, despite the fact that none of them had anything to do with this particular rum session. This is how we got our hands on the most expensive bottle on Bamboo Door’s menu, the Diplomático Ambassador, which retails at almost £200 per bottle! Unfortunately, we did have to give it back.

Bamboo Door diplomatico ambassador

Throughout his introduction, Tom kept stressing that the whole point of these rum sessions, is to show people that there’s much more to rum, than a glass of Bacardi and coke. I’ll admit that I’m a staunch “spirit-and-a-mixer” person, but even I found myself caught up in Tom’s enthusiasm, and was suddenly excited to get my hands on the first of this session’s rums.

As already mentioned, each rum session focuses on a particular brand of rum, and the rum Tom had selected for tonight’s session was Ron Zacapa. Our first taste of Ron Zacapa, was a generous measure of Zacapa 23, which we sipped while Tom went into great detail about the run’s complicated ageing process, which was fascinating to hear.

Despite not being a fan of drinking anything neat, I found the Zacapa 23 smooth enough to enjoy on its own and, although it had a long, slow after burn, it actually wasn’t in the least bit unpleasant. The Zacapa 23 had a complex flavour, with hints of vanilla, cocoa, and brown sugar, with an underlying woodiness.

After we’d sipped the rum on its own, we were each given a square of dark chocolate. Tom told us to take a bite of the chocolate and chew, then sip the rum and swill the two together. The effect was incredible: the chocolate completely took the burn out of the rum, and exaggerated its previously subtle cocoa notes, so the Zacapa 23 suddenly tasted like the strongest, most luxurious chocolate liqueur imaginable.

I wasted no time polishing off the rest of the rum and chocolate, all the while daydreaming about dark, cold winter nights spent at home with a bottle of Zacapa 23 and a big bar of dark chocolate. Maybe I’ll treat myself when the nights start drawing in!

Bamboo Door Zacapa 23

The second rum of the evening, was Zacapa XO. Tom explained that this rum starts life in exactly the same way as the Zacapa 23, before it’s put into cognac casks for a further two years. This is a pricier rum, with a bottle retailing at around £100, so understandably the measure was a bit smaller this time around.

The Zacapa XO was a darker rum, with a deeper flavour to match – it had a smoky, almost tobacco quality to it, with a hint of brown sugar that reminded me of the Zacapa 23. It also had less of an afterburn than the first rum, which was definitely a good thing in my opinion.

Overall, the Sunday Rum Session at Bamboo Door was a fun, informal, and interesting experience. Even if the thought of learning how different rums are made doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, trust me, Bamboo Door’s staff know how to make distilling seem fascinating! After an hour or so of listening to Tom and sipping Ron Zacapa, I had a totally newfound appreciation for rum.

The evening is also good value for money, as you get a good few measures of quality rum, a couple of cocktails, plus the entertainment of one of Bamboo Door’s knowledgeable bar staff taking you on a journey through everything there is to know about rum. 

There’s nothing else like Bamboo Door in Sheffield at the moment – it’s a fun, quirky, independent cocktail and rum bar, with friendly staff and a very welcoming, relaxed vibe.

Bamboo Door is a great addition to the Sheffield bar scene, whether you’re attending a rum session, or just enjoying a cocktail. If you haven’t given Bamboo Door a go, then you’re missing out!

5-stars

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