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After the inaugural year of Fort Worth Cocktail Week in 2016, the participating distillers have grown considerably. This is the time to try something outside of your comfort zone with new spirits and find twists on old favorites. If I may be so bold, allow me to steer you to a few things worth your attention during the celebration.

Of all the spirits, rum has the most varied flavor profile between bottles. At Fort Worth Cocktail Week’s Tiki Party on Wed at The Usual (1401 W Magnolia Av), you can experience three wildly different rums: El Dorado, RumHaven, and Rhum Clement. 

El Dorado is the de facto choice for tiki-style drinks, which generally feature more than one kind of rum and require a spirit that pairs well with tropical mixers and other rum varietals without devolving into a sickly, cloying mess. El Dorado is a South American-produced demerara rum made from fermenting partially refined light brown cane demerara sugar into molasses. This process yields a slightly sweet and smoky flavor with deeper caramel flavors on the palate. Try El Dorado both in a cocktail and as a standalone sipper. 

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If you mixed up a bottle of Malibu coconut rum with suntan lotion, it might be hard to say which was the booze and which one would make you look more like George Hamilton. What the spring break staple lacks in subtlety, RumHaven, a higher caliber of coconut rum, makes up for by using real coconut water and cane sugar. It’s a refreshing drink on its own or a bright complement to dark rum and tropical fruit in a tiki-style drink. 

Veering into a totally different territory, Rhum Clement is the first and finest of its kind, produced in the French West Indies and falling into the “rhum agricole” varietal. Produced with freshly pressed sugarcane juice instead of molasses, rhum agricole is brighter and more vegetal versus sweet. Sip the barrel-aged Rhum Clement, and you can likely push aside your favorite brandy for good.

On Thursday, the new Salsa Limón Distrito location (5012 White Settlement Rd) hosts Bartenders without Borders: Tequila & Mezcal Night. If any spirit can be compared to wine, it’s tequila. The way farmers process the agave plant and the terroir determine the quality of the output. Olmeca Altos tequila is made of 50 percent Tahona-method crushed agave, which in short means they are literally smashing the plant the old-fashioned way: using a massive volcanic rock before utilizing the more modern industrial practice of a roller mill. Toss back a piece of legit rock ’n’ roll, baby.

If you are a loyal Last Call reader, or my mom, then you already have noted my feelings on mezcal being the it drink. Xicaru’s mezcal is a must-try if you have not experienced this smoky south-of-the-border creation that is the definition of small batch and artisanal spirit making.

Closing out Fort Worth Cocktail Week on Friday, the annual Gin vs. Vodka bout takes over The Foundry District (2624 Weisenberger St). For you locals who swear you can’t do gin, this is the party to squelch that damn defeatist attitude and jump over to the juniper side.

Plymouth Gin has been distilled across the pond since 1793, presumably to help our former owners numb the pain of losing their vacation homes in the Revolutionary War. But make no mistake, this isn’t an overpowering London dry gin that makes many a drinker blanch. Instead, Plymouth is citrusy, lighter, and more floral, playing perfectly into a delicate cocktail like the Aviation or French 75

How do you get in on all this action? It’s as easy as jumping over to the Fort Worth Cocktail Week website to buy a ticket (FWCocktailWeek.com) or purchase one at the door.

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