Interview with Carlos Cuarta – Chicago’s Finest Rum Mixologist & Venezuelan Rum Preacher

Carlos Cuarta  

Chicago’s Finest Rum Mixologist & Venezuelan Rum Preacher

1) Who is Carlos Cuarta?

Carlos Enrique Cuarta is a native of Venezuela. He has now been a long time resident of the USA and the great city of Chicago—11 years. From his beginnings in South America to the present he has collected an incredible amount of culture. His enthusiasm for life, and his inexhaustible curiosity are an example to many people he has touched in his career as one of Chicago’s finest bartenders. A note to the reader, Carlos has never worked behind a Chicago bar establishment; however, he has tirelessly pushed the limits as a bartender for many spirit brands, private clients, and catering companies. A notable accomplishment since it takes undisputedly more commitment and perseverance to pursue the art of craft cocktailing on one’s own time and dime.

That kind of tenacity has not gone unnoticed, however. In 2010, Carlos was the recipient of the Diageo Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund, a scholarship that allowed him to continue his spirits education at the prestigious BAR (Beverage Alcohol Resource) in New York City. Over the years, during his involvement in the USBG Illinois Chapter, Carlos has been extremely active in supporting his fellow bartenders and mentor, Bridget Albert, at the Academy of Spirits, various charitable organizations, and also mentoring and financially assisting other Latino bartenders in pursuing our great craft. In his spare time, he continues to improve his skills by attending classes put on by the likes of industry icons like Dale Degroff, Steve Olson, Angus Winchester, and Junior Merino.

Those who know Carlos can personally attest also to his insatiable need to experiment with the elements of the cocktail. At home he is constantly working on various infusions, syrups, cordials and recipes for his own pleasure, but also in preparation for the many projects and competitions he has committed himself to. In fact, Carlos, though grounded in classical Mixology, has never shied away from modern challenges. Though he has worked for brands in the Bacardi family, Beam Global, and Diageo, he has also developed cocktail recipes for PepsiCo, Wrigley Gum, and Red Bull.

All in all, Carlos has dedicated his life to raising up the bartending craft and at no expense to his lust for life. In fact, they are one in the same. As Carlos says, “Always be sipping”

2) Biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplish for the rum industry.

  • Be able to educate about the Rum category in general, and become a Venezuelan Rum Preacher with the presentation “Venezuelan Rum”, a bit of history, law, regulations and process of a great and unique rum.
  • As Cantinero and Rum lover I was lucky enough to participate in the national finals of Bacardi Legacy Competition and Diplomatico World Tournament and show what I am capable to do using rum.

3) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

Where I grew up in Venezuela, I was surrounded by sugarcane fields, I first hand experience the field sugar cane process from planting all the way to harvesting, beautiful smell came from the fields during the whole process.

Unconsciously all those memories are so useful today.  I remember seeing how the “campesinos” worked in the field and how the sugarcane field was burned, harvested, picked up and then delivered to the sugar factory and then transformed in molasses to the distillery.

As I grew up and was allowed to legal drink, my passion for rum grew, after learning the versatility of this spirit.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry? ?

The most amazing thing rum has to offer is  that its a true product that comes from sugarcane. Then you have all the versatility of the rums, thanks to all the non-standard methods that each country has, this makes  rum so rich.

At the same time, even though it sounds simple, the production of rum is very complex.

5) Favorite Rum Drink + Recipe?  

Hand Shaken Daiquiri (variation)

Glassware: Coupe

1 oz. Bacardi Superior Silver Rum
1 oz. Santa Teresa Grand Reserva Rum
3/4 Spoon of Cane Sugar or 2/3oz. Cane Simple Syrup 1:1
¾ oz Fresh lime juice

Method:

Add the lime juice and sugar into your shaker, stir well to dissolve and then the rum. Shake with cracked ice. train into a chilled cocktail glass.

6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

This industry is consistently growing, but the last 12 years it experiences a constantly blooming that increases every year, I am seeing a lot of experimentation and more producers going into the aged categories, playing with the process and type of vessels.

Its incredible that as more people try this spirit they love the spirit more and want to learn more about the category.

I am glad to see how the US Rum Industry have evolved and having a renascent of a very authentic Colonial American Spirit. Also the sum of non traditional rum producers countries make  the picture bigger and more interesting.

Rum is a winning bet to our palate.

7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have help you. 

-Bridget Albert a Bartender/Mixologist, whom founded the United States Bartender’s Guild – Illinois Chapter, the Academy of Spirits and the Advanced Academy here in Chicago.

During her classes we learn about Rum since the humanity started playing with the sugar cane, until the actual days, we also were expose to taste all the styles and listen to knowledgeable guest speakers as well.

-David Cid- Bacardi Brand Master, a very passionate and enthusiastic rum person, a natural educator, always open to share his knowledge about the category.

He helped me as well to understand more deeply the Rum process and the endless variables of this distillate.

I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who still contacting David and bombarding him with Rum questions, he enjoy to RUMmage his knowledge and share his experiences.

-Tito Leonard Cordero a recognized Venezuelan Rum Master from Diplomatico Rum, which whom I have had countless conversations about Rum in general, Venezuelan Rum, its style, law, regulations and diverse process. Always willing to share experiences and knowledge.

7) What 3-5 things do you have in your bucket list for the next 12 months?

  • -Be focused on my health, be more mindful about physical and spiritual wellness. All combined will allow me to preach more about rum for long time and also sip more rum with my friends at the present and for the years to come as well.
  • Keep preaching the “Venezuelan Rum” gospel to impact and educate more people about this delicious liquid.
  • Continue inspiring and giving support to the Hispanic Bartenders here in USA and overseas, sharing great data and very educational information.
  • For sure add more Rum knowledge and travels to my records.

9) Any last words?

What about to express my last word with some Rum…

Rum Last Word (modified)

Glassware: Coupe

1 oz. Diplomatico Blanco Reserva Rum
½ oz. Luxardo Marraschino Liqueur
½ oz. Green Chartreuse
½ oz. Fresh Lime  Juice
2 drops of Lavender Scrappy’s Bitters

Method:

Add  the ingredients into the shaker, except the bitters, ice the tin. Shake well , then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add the bitters, stir once.

 Thanks to the Rum Lab for the interview and I will like to see more people doing events to educate and promote the Rum Culture.

10) How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page? 

FB Carlos Enrique Cuarta
Twitter @ccuarta
Instagram ccuarta

Author: Fede

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