Review: Drawstring Pirate Breeches, Sash, Bandana

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Center Stage Costumes

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve window shopped at the Center Stage website – they have probably the best variety of your pirate “basics” around – several styles of breeches and slops, along with a whole line of pirate sashes and socks. And that says nothing of their absolutely gorgeous hat collection.

The first thing (aside from their online catalogue) that impressed me about Center Stage was their willingness to answer customer questions. I know that sounds like a gimme, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve emailed a vendor basic questions (Do you have more photos of that product? Can you give me a better description of the size of that item? etc.) only to have it fall on deaf ears – or to receive a reply that only addresses half my questions. No such concerns with Center Stage, they were more than happy to answer my questions, both via email and by phone.

What I ordered was the start of a basic pirate outfit – a pair of drawstring breeches, a sash, and a bandana. All arrived in a very timely manner, and all seemed very well made. Continue reading

Review: How I Became a Pirate

Rating: ★★★★★
How I Became a Pirate
by Melinda Long and David Shannon

Best Pirate Book Ever! OK, so I’ve said that before, but there’s just something magical about children’s pirate books. So many adult-oriented pirate books get bogged down in things like murder, scurvy, moral and legal issues, and all that nonsense. But quite often a good children’s book comes along and reminds us that historical fact notwithstanding, pirates are COOL. Period. So yeah, I love pirate kid’s books, and this is especially true when they’re well written and beautifully illustrated. This one is both, and then some. Continue reading

Review: Westerhall Estate

Rating: ★★★½☆
Westerhall Estate Rum

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

When it comes to rum, I don’t usually go for smooth – I tend to equate it with hollow and boring. That said, Westerhall Estate isn’t smooth – it’s silky smooth. It’s soft, buttery, lie down in a hammock and let island girls fan you with banana leaves smooth. And just when all that smoothness is about to lull you to a gloriously well-earned siesta, along comes a sensation of brown sugary sweetness, graceful yet exotic enough to awaken you just bit to enjoy the banana-fanning some more.

A delightful rum in a lovely wax-sealed bottle. Goes down easy (some witnesses might say too easy) and won’t cost you a mint. Definitely recommended.

Review: A Hanging Offense

Rating: ★★★★☆
A Hanging Offense: The Strange Affair of the Warship Somers
by Buckner F. Milton, Jr.

Now normally I side with the pirates – it’s in my nature. But in this story I just had to root for the naval captain. Sorry, not story – this is history. And a fascinating piece at that. Word has it that at the time these events gripped the nation (the OJ trials of the 1800s, I suppose,) but today not many have heard of the Somers. 19 year old Philip Spencer was a midshipman, the son of the secretary of war, and trouble. Insubordinant from the get-go and selfish to boot. That may be all forgivable, but when he’s stationed on the Somers, a training vessel manned almost entirely by children, well, that’s when I draw the line and playful mutiny becomes cold-blooded murder. Of course, Captain Mackenzie learned of the plans in advance and dealt with it as best he could, but you can read about that yourself. Continue reading

Review: Bedtime Stories for Pirates

Rating: ★★★★★
Captain Bogg and Salty

Buy the CD
Genre: Original pirate songs and tunes.
Rating: G
Target Audience: Kids, but HIGHLY recommended for all ages

Usually when someone makes a sing-a-long pirate album you get the distinct impression it was made by children’s entertainers trying their best to pretend at being pirates. As such, its appeal tends to be very limited. Continue reading

Review: Pyrat XO

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Planters Gold: Pyrat XO

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

Whatever you may say about Pyrat Rums, one thing is certain – nobody presents their product better. Whether you’ve acquired their top-of-the-line Cask 23, or if you’ve selected their more affordable XO Reserve, in either case you get a glorious handblown bottle – complete with cork, ribbons, and a medallion of Hoti (the god of bartenders.) This is how rum was meant to be packaged, and I’ve yet to find another that comes even close. Continue reading

Review: Plantation Rum – Trinidad

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Plantation Rum – Trinidad

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

A decent rum, but it left me wanting. Smooth, but lacking any exciting undercurrents to make it truly worth revisiting. It might be a good purchase for the fledgling rum drinker if they’d like to start with something more approachable, but otherwise I’d look for something a tad more complex.

Review: Mount Gay Sugar Cane

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Mount Gay Sugar Cane Rum

No, you didn’t misread. The above title claims this review is for Mount Gay Sugar Cane Rum, but the label calls it brandy. I just learned the hard way that they’re one and the same. It seems that in some states Mount Gay is required by law to label their brandy as rum – either way, it ain’t rum, and it certainly ain’t good. I used it to remove a nasty clog from my drain, and it didn’t even do a very good job of that. The flavor was vaguely reminiscent of shoe leather soaked in vinegar. If you think that sounds appealing, give it a shot. Otherwise, I’d stay clear.

Important Update! I almost let the hideousness of this “rum” scare me off Mount Gay forever – don’t make the same mistake! If you try only one new rum this year, make it Mount Gay Extra Old.

UPDATE: I’m killing comments on this post. It was written back in 2004 and it’s getting quite tedious to respond to every Sugar Cane Brandy fan that wishes to air their disagreements. So instead, here’s a generic comment and response copies from my FAQ:

Q. Are you a total dolt? (insert rum name here) is my very favorite, and yet you call it wretch – was your tongue burned by acid when you were young?

A. Rum is a very subjective subject, and while I welcome opinions that disagree with my own, I do get tired of belligerent posts that choose to question my tastes entirely – especially regarding reviews that were posted several years ago. My rum reviews can be quite opinionated – I freely admit that. I have a strong preference for what I consider to be “heritage” and “naval style” rums – meaning the dark, oaky, molassesy sorts like you often find out of Barbados or Jamaica, and the peppery, bold sorts that reflect the mixes favored by the British navy. I don’t give a flat fig what rums won awards, and if I wanted my rum to taste like cognac, sherry, or port, then I’d pour myself a cognac, sherry, or port. A high end rum that tastes like any of the above might be very pleasant on the palette, but to a swab of my preferences they taste like fail.