All those distillery tours, cocktails, and talks with bartenders rubbed off on Lamprey, because the television host has graduated from drinking rum to making rum. Lamprey has launched a line of barrel-aged rums, both distilled in Trinidad and aged in American bourbon barrels called Monkey Rum. The rums are then flavored with natural ingredients, with the finished product being a coconut and a spiced rum. The rums are being launched here in Miami this weekend.
Lamprey is not just some paid talking head for the rum, either. He tells Miami New Times,"I founded this company. I developed the rum. I'm not just slapping my name on it."
Lamprey says that things really took off when he teamed with Ian Crystal. "He was running new product development and global marketing for Absolut. By then, I had learned every step in the spirits making process, but what I needed was someone who has marketing acumen. That happened about a hear and a half ago.
"We formed a company called Evolution Spirits, with the idea being that we will continuously evolve our products. We agreed that the rums need to be barrel aged and that we should tell some stories with the bottle."
The bottles, by the way, are barrel shaped and are designed to be professionally cut into a perfect rocks glass. As for the "barrel of monkeys' reference in the shape of the container? "We didn't originally even think of that expression. That wasn't our intention. We were looking to convey he fact that the rums are barrel aged, actually, because you don't really think of flavored rums as being barrel aged."
Lamprey explains that, although you might have spent your frat days or beach vacation drinking Malibu or Captain Morgan, these rums are different. The spiced rum, for instance, is aged for two years, giving the rum complexity and a natural amber color. Then, just a touch of natural spices are added to enhance the existing rum, rather than mask it. The coconut rum is aged about six months, then is flavored with real toasted coconut.
Of course, we had to ask a professional drinker how he drinks his own products. "Our intention is to create something that's mixable, but I gotta tell you, I usually drink the spiced rum neat, although I've been to a lot of mixology bars where the bartender ran away with the bottle and came back with an amazing drink. As for the coconut, I have that pretty simply over ice with club soda and lime. But it also makes a great coconut daiquiri or mojito.
After years of traveling the world in search of a good drink, Lamprey says that some things are universal — including the English language. "It is the international language. I've never walked into a bar in any country and couldn't find someone who didn't speak English.
"The other thing is that when you have a few drinks with someone, you tend to forget where you are. I forget that I'm in Taipei or New Zealand because I'm just laughing and enjoying a moment. It has nothing to do with politics or nations. It's just two people sitting down and having a drink. Really, when it comes down to it, we're all just people. Alcohol really is a social lubricant and any place we go, the experience is a truly authentic experience."
If the bar or pub experience is truly universal, surely there must be one thing different in other countries that Lamprey would like to see more of in the United States. "Singing. You go to other countries and people — young or old — start singing these drinking songs. Everyone knows the words. We don't sing enough at bars here."
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If you'd like to meet Zane Lamprey, and maybe get into a singalong with him, he'll be making several stops with his Monkey Rum over the weekend.
On Friday, May 8, from 5:30 - 8 p.m., Lamprey will be signing bottles of his rum at Vintage Liquors & Wine Bar in Midtown. Then, he'll be at American Social in Brickell from 8:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. where you can drink Angry Monkey Bombs (Angry Orchard cider and Monkey Rum shots) and Monkey Rum cocktails ($8). The cocktail specials start at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, May 10, from noon - 4 p.m. enjoy cabanas, beasts, and Monkey drinks, including the toasted coconut banana colada at the Shore Club. To reserve a cabana, email Brandon@MonkeyRum.com. Then, from 7 - 10 p.m., join Zane at The Rum Line for Shipwrecked Sundays where you can enjoy discounted Monkey drinks. If you're in-the-biz, your entire check is 20% off, too.