While spirits are its specialty, Bacardi is no stranger to the culinary industry. At the Casa BACARDÍ Visitor Center in Cataño, Puerto Rico, the company’s Georgina Local Cuisine serves up Caribbean fusion fare infused with BACARDÍ flavors. Recently, the brand took part in a nationwide celebration of food and drink hosted by a leading authority on the culinary arts. Working with award-winning chef Ari Taymor, Bacardi had the honor of providing the official cocktails of the James Beard Foundation’s annual Taste America Tour.
Showcasing Culinary All-Stars from Coast to Coast
Since 1986, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) has nurtured and celebrated the diverse culinary culture of America. The nonprofit honors the memory of its namesake, the acclaimed teacher, cookbook author, and TV personality James Andrew Beard, by highlighting the countless ways in which food enriches our lives. At the same time, the foundation recognizes the best chefs in the industry and works to empower the next generation of culinary artists.
For the third year in a row, JBF took its mission on the road with the Taste America tour: a six-week, 10-city event showcasing several of the nation’s leading and upcoming chefs. Beginning in Miami from September 18-19, the tour stopped in Phoenix and Charleston over September 24-26, entertained residents of Minneapolis and Seattle over the weekend of October 2-3, and traveled to Boston and New Orleans from October 9-10. From October 23-24, Taste America visited two of America’s culinary capitals, Chicago and San Francisco, before closing out the journey in Los Angeles from November 6-7.
The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Culinary All-Stars included Rocco DiSpirito, Michel Nischan, Art Smith, Tyler Florence, Jonathan Waxman, Traci Des Jardins, April Bloomfield, Mark Ladner, Tony Mantuano, Hugh Acheson, and John Besh. Each culinary celebrity lent his or her talents to a single stop on the Taste America Tour, partnering with local chefs to host an evening of expertly crafted cuisine.
Each weekend’s ticketed event began with a walk-through cocktail and tasting reception showcasing the skills of locally celebrated chefs. Guests then took their seats to enjoy an exclusive four-course meal planned and prepared by one of their own local culinary icons in collaboration with a Taste America culinary All-Star. In Chicago, diners enjoyed dishes such as finfish crudo with avocado mousse, grapefruit, ginger, frozen kefir, and Yuzu Kosho. Desserts included a warm plum bread pudding quenelle adorned with puffed sorghum brittle and a buttermilk crème Anglaise. On the tour’s New Orleans stop, guests were treated to locally inspired courses including pork knuckles with sauerkraut, fermented fruit, and rye; and buttermilk biscuits with fig charoset and Tobasco duck liver pâté. The courses served in the remaining cities were equally extravagant, each reflecting the influence of the local culture and its celebrated chefs.
This year’s Taste America festivities also extended to Sur La Table locations throughout the country. The fan events included book signings and free cooking demonstrations by the James Beard Foundation’s Culinary All-Stars, in addition to sample tastings of artisanal foods.
A Chef-Crafted Cocktail
While guests in all 10 cities had the privilege of enjoying a one-night-only menu prepared by the nation’s top chefs, food wasn’t the only focus on the Taste America Tour. In addition to serving as an official Taste America sponsor for the second year running, Bacardi joined forces with acclaimed chef Ari Taymor to develop two unique cocktails with a culinary flair.
A Los Angeles native, Ari Taymor rose to prominence in the culinary world despite a lack of formal training. The driven young chef channeled his passion into the creation of his debut restaurant Alma, which garnered Bon Appétit’s 2013 award for Best New Restaurant. Taymor earned the titled of Best New Chef from Food & Wine in 2014, and in 2015, he became a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award.
The acclaimed chef drew on his expertise to craft the official cocktails of the Taste America tour, using spirits from the BACARDÍ Gran Reserva line of super-premium mixing rums. For the first, he began with BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Ocho Años to develop a variation on the Dark and Stormy, a traditional rum cocktail containing dark rum, lime juice, and ginger beer. Chef Taymor spiced up the traditional ingredients with carrot eau de vie and smoked maple syrup, adding a bit of finely ground coffee for garnish.
For the Siam Daiquiri, chef Taymor put a personal spin on his own favorite rum cocktail, adding a bit of inspiration from his hometown. He combined BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron with Kaffir lime juice and a Thai aromatic simple syrup featuring coriander seeds, lime leaves, sugar, and sliced Jalapeno.
Ari Taymor joined the Taste America chefs in Chicago and Los Angeles to premiere his craft cocktails. He debuted the Headless Horseman at Chicago’s Geraghty venue on October 23, then gave guests their first sip of the Siam Daiquiri on November 6 at The Ebell of Los Angeles.