Jason Kosmas is about to raise your spirits

What has Jason Kosmas not done? Maybe that’s what the Dallas bartending luminary was wondering when he decided to launch his own spirits outfit, which has debuted with Cana Brava rum and Aylesbury Duck vodka.

Who’s Jason Kosmas, you ask? (But only because you’re nice enough to play along. Either that or you’ve been under heavy sedation for the last decade.)

Kosmas studied under mixology master Dale DeGroff, co-owns New York City’s Employees Only, co-authored a couple of bartending books and then came to Dallas to wield his bar smarts at Windmill Lounge, Bolsa, Neighborhood Services and finally Marquee. What’s next, a reality show?

Actually, Kosmas has been ruminating on the spirits idea for some time, and with The 86 Company, he and his partners are rolling out a bartender’s basic palette. (Gin and tequila are set to follow.) All are meant to be user-friendly and affordably priced. And tasty, of course: Both hold their own behind the bar.

For Cana Brava, Kosmas visited a good number of distilleries before settling on Panama’s Las Cabras, run by Don Pancho Fernandez.

The name may mean little north of the border, but in the Caribbean, Fernandez is legend, a master distiller who for 30-some years had a hand in Cuba’s classic Havana Club rum. In Panama, his molasses-based rums are aged for three years in a combination of new American oak and older American whiskey barrels, then blended with older rums.

Fernandez, Kosmas says, “put together a blend specifically for us.” The result, officially introduced at last month’s inaugural Craft Cocktail TX festival is 86 proof and straw-toned with deep aromas of sugar cane, caramel and citrus.

Kosmas, right, with Standard Pour’s Brian McCulllough at last month’s Craft Cocktail TX festival

Cana Brava is just now hitting state liquor stores, but in the meantime can be found at places like Cedars Social, Marquee, Private/Social, People’s Last Stand, Sundown at the Granada, Victor Tango, Neighborhood Services and Malai Kitchen.

Kosmas likes Cana Brava in the classic Daiquiri – 2 ounces of rum plus ¾ each of fresh lime juice and simple syrup, shaken with ice, strained into a chilled glass and garnished with a lime wheel.

At Sundown at the Granada, Casey Willis’s Cana Brava mojito muddles seven mint leaves and an ounce of honey syrup with lime juice, then adds two ounces of the rum before shaking and pouring over rocks.

Private/Social’s Rocco Milano slips it into something summery that he calls the Sex Panther. Here’s the recipe:

            3 ounces Cana Brava

            Juice of three limes

         2 ounces Monin pure cane syrup (or agave nectar)

            2 slices of seedless watermelon (about 2-3 inches apiece)

            Place watermelon in blender, then add other ingredients. Add ice and blend, pour into two glasses and top each with a mint sprig.

— Marc Ramirez

Posted 7-9-12

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