Situated at the buzzing intersection of Hollywood Road and Peel Street, The Daily Tot is designed to be “a sanctuary for lovers of the finest selection of rums this side of Havana”.
Its new cocktail menu – The Rum Diary – pays tribute to the origins and milestones of rum, exploring rum’s journey and evolution as sugarcane made its way across historic trade routes.
Technically speaking, rum is any alcoholic spirit that has been fermented and distilled from sugarcane. Sugarcane was first cultivated in New Guinea, and the fermentation of sugarcane reportedly dates back to as early as 350BC in India, although the crop and its alcoholic derivatives only became more commonplace after the 15th century as trade and travel burgeoned.
While rum is generally regarded as originating in the Caribbean, it also has a long history in many other parts of the world. Today, it’s produced in about 80 countries, with a variety of terroirs and methods (using sugarcane juice or molasses, aged or not, different types of barrels for ageing, etc), all of which impact each rum’s flavour profile. In fact, rum is arguably one of the most diverse spirits, and a visit to The Daily Tot is a delicious way to experience rum’s versatility and learn more about its heritage.
Left to right: Tropical Milk Punch, Silk Road Trader
The Rum Diary menu starts with Silk Road Trader (HK$120), inspired by the historic trade route where commodities like dates, wine and sugarcane spread across India, China and Japan, before being transported west to Persia. This is a refreshing concoction of dates, sparkling wine and Mount Gay Eclipse rum, and it makes for a great aperitif.
Tropical Milk Punch (HK$130), which references the Asian spice route where sugarcane was used as currency, is my personal favourite. This is a clarified milk punch that features a blend of spices along with Wray & Nephew dark rum, cardamom and Earl Grey tea, Flor de Caña 7 years banana rum, Pedro Ximénez sherry, coconut milk, passionfruit, pineapple and lemon. Its simple presentation belies its layered flavour profile, balancing spice and tropical fruit and finishing on a subtle but unmistakable note of Earl Grey. I’ll definitely order this again on my next visit.
Left to to right: Popcorn & Pandan Negroni, Dear Abbey Colada
We had to try the Dear Abbey Colada (HK$120), The Daily Tot’s take on the ubiquitous piña colada. Made with St Nicholas Abbey white rum, raspberry-strawberry shrub, pineapple juice and cream, this creation is inspired by Christopher Columbus, who brought sugarcane from the Canary Islands to the New World. Don’t expect it to taste like the cocktails you knock back beachside though – this version offers a more sophisticated take that’s delightfully creamy and not overpoweringly sweet, although the tartness might be polarising (I liked it; my drinking companion did not).
The Popcorn & Pandan Negroni (HK$130) is a safe bet, made with Flor de Caña 7 years rum infused with pandan, sweet vermouth popcorn and Campari. The popcorn and pandan flavours here are relatively subtle and well balanced, but on the flip side, this drink risks veering into the realm of “nice but slightly forgettable”.
Left to right: New World Order, The Tot Grog
The Tot Grog (HK$120) is a highball made with Dead Man’s Fingers coconut rum, Plantation dark rum and homemade coconut soda and pays tribute to “Navy grog” – the practice of giving Royal Navy sailors rum diluted with water, which was instituted in the mid-1700s. This is a good choice if you’re looking for an easy, refreshing drink that’s not too sweet.
On the other hand, New World Order (HK$120) celebrates Black Tot Day (31 July 1970), the last day that Royal Navy sailors were issued their daily rum ration (AKA “the daily tot”), after it was determined that issuing rum was contrary to operational efficiency. The concoction of Matusalem Gran Reserva 15 years rum, Black Tears spiced rum, falernum, ginger, mango, lime and orange juice certainly packs a strong punch that’s both sweet and spicy. It was a bit too sweet for my taste, but I can see how this drink fits the narrative (I’d certainly want my last rum ration to be a memorable one).
Speaking of memorable, if you like your cocktails with a bit of drama, there are also some fiery theatrics in store…
The Daily Tot does a commendable job showcasing how rum can be both contemporary and elevated, with a variety and versatility that this liquor does not often get enough credit for. The new menu translates interesting vignettes from rum’s history into well-executed cocktails with a range of styles and flavours, so there’s bound to be something for everyone.
Where: LG/F, Felicity Building, 58 Hollywood Road, Central
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.