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Dear Drink: La Favorite Ambre Rhum Agricole

An open letter to the La Favorite Ambre Rhum Agricole bottle at Stonegate Pizza

LA FAVORITE AMBRE RHUM AGRICOLE: For relaxing times, make it this rhum.

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Dear La Favorite Ambre Rhum Agricole,

When I ignored you and ran off to shot photos of Billy Stoops, it was inconsiderate. When I didn't sip you for a good five minutes, it was rude. When I shoved you to the side to scribble (literally scribble) some notes, causing a squeaking glass on wood sound, spilling a tiny bit of you over the edge, I was being. ... Christ, I don't think there are words for how heartless that was. I'm so sorry. You saw me at my worst. The look on your straw-colored face ripped me to pieces.

I know. I KNOW.

Your caliber of spirit deserves full attention. Again, I apologize. Stonegate Pizza's Thursday open jam night with Stoops is pure hubbub. Musicians jumping in and out of the jam, pot smokers coming and going from the upstairs Vape Club, Tacoma artist Teddy Haggarty filling my ear with Alec Baldwin's every move - it can get distracting. Still, no excuse. Seriously, La Favorite Ambre Rhum Agriole, you are a sipping rhum, for fireside chats or porch chillin'. You're a think drink, not a quick tip while trying to socially own an open jam with the perfect Twitter, Facebook and Pintrest succession of pizza, Captain Morgan poster and blues shredding, topped with a LinkedIn crowd cheer shot. Bam!

The root of my rudeness, La Favorite Ambre, arose that Thursday morning when I read the little section The Trib prints with news bits from 25, 50 and 100 years ago. I glanced at the "25 years ago" thinking, hmm, wonder what was going on way back then. Then I realized that 25 years ago I was doing exactly what I'm doing today. Way back then, I had already been out of college for two years and had started a monthly arts newspaper in Tacoma, which morphed into a weekly entertainment rag called Choices. I'm working even more hours today. ... I hope the Trib stays around long enough so that in 25 years from today, the year 2038, they can still be printing this kind of news and people who are alive then can find out what happened on this day of this year. Popes quitting. Congress partisan blame game that has all the maturity of a middle-school brawl with none of the entrainment value. J.C. Penny reports losing 42.7 billion pennies in its fiscal fourth quarter. Ugh. I'll be having the 50 years ago conversation this summer.

Ah well. I'll just keep on laughing to keep from crying.

In the meantime, look at you La Favorite Ambre. Your variant spelling of rum serves as a clue to the location of your birth: you most likely hail from a French-speaking Caribbean island - Guadaloupe, Haiti, Martinique - as opposed to an English-speaking one - Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica. Since you are of the La Favorite Ambre brand, you, indeed were born on Martinique, specifically La Lementin, since 1843. This Caribbean island is the only rhum region designated as an Appellation d'Origine Contrôllée, which means, as it does in France's Cognac-making region, it adheres to rigorous guidelines for harvesting, fermenting and distillation.

Because you are from the "agricole" family, you take on qualitative, versus merely geographical, significance: now we're talking the cream of the crop, literally. Distilled from pure sugar-cane juice rather than molasses - a sugar-cane byproduct - you are a quite the lovely straight-sipping type. You're aged for a couple years in used whiskey and bourbon barrels. This gentle aging seems to bring out your nuances while rounding out any harsh edges, yet you remain fresh and intense, a pure expression of sugar-cane subtlety. The aroma carries hints of grassy sweet cane and smoky wood. Flavors of honey and dried fruits suggest a similarity to a fine cognac. Nice.

Yet, you do pack a little punch, ringing in at 55 percent alcohol.

Yes, I know, I would never add ice. A true Martiniquais would only drink it neat.

Again, I apologize La Favorite Ambre. I'm not saying this excuses my behavior, but I just want you to know why I acted the way I did. For what it's worth, I'm sorry. Next time I'll give you the attention you deserve, unless Stoops dives into the crowd. Then, I'm bailing on you and Vine-ing that shit.


Ron Swarner


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