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The volume of food and drink events in D.C. is overwhelming. Girl Scout cookie cocktail tasting. Cherry blossom bar pop up. Rooftop garden parties. Pint nights, wine flights and food truck fiestas. Although it’s hard to keep up, the good news is your friends at BYT are here to partake in as many events as we can to report back to you as to whether an event is worth spending your hard earned dollars on. Recently, Cuba Libre started a rum tasting dinner series. We went to the first one. After drinking all the rum and eating all the food we think this is an event you should add to your calendar because you too need to drink all the rum and eat all the food.


The dinner takes place in a private room at Cube Libre with food, rum cocktails, and rum tasting. The first rum distiller featured was Papa’s Pilar, a rum that comes from Key West. I don’t know a damn thing about rum but I can tell you this: this rum far exceeded my expectations. I did not know that you could drink rum on its own like whiskey without choking/burning your throat/wanting to die. My main experience with rum was in college when I drank a boatload of rum and cokes. (Hence the college 15…or 25).


The event included a dish (five total) paired with each cocktail or rum sampling. We first tried a drink called the Watering Hole, which was a summery blend of rum, watermelon and lime, with freshly fried plantain chips. I don’t know why but plantain chips are so much better than regular chips. The chips were especially awesome with the drink, which was almost like a punch. Next we tried the blond rum on its own. Apparently Papa’s Pilar makes the only blond rum sold in the U.S. It went down real smooth. It was light and slightly sweet with the flavor of vanilla. I want to drink it all summer long, on my porch with a pile of the cheesy empanadas and sweet chili guava dip.


Our second cocktail was a drink called the New Cuban, comprised of rum, walnut bitters, lime sugar and prosecco, which was even better than the first cocktail. By now, we were sufficiently hammered enough to handle tasting both the Papa’s Pilar dark and aged rums, neat. Dark, rich, and heady these rums are not for the faint-hearted. But, if you are a whiskey drinker like my husband, you will want to drink these rums. They are strong and almost meaty, with the flavor of molasses. One sip warmed me all the way to my toes, I was glad to have some cool coconut ice cream on the side.


The moral of the story: if you love rum, you will love these rum dinners. If you are afraid of rum or don’t know anything about rum, these dinners are also for you. I am not sure I would call myself a born again rum aficionado, but my interest is piqued enough to keep sampling.



Each of the rum dinners at Cuba Libre, taking place every few months, will set you back $85 which includes 5 courses and all the rum you can drink. It’s not bad for a tasting dinner at a restaurant; most dinners like this will set you back well over $100. The price tag includes tag, gratuity and a gift.