When I think of summertime, I imagine sun, flavorful foods, spices, the Caribbean, and refreshing cocktails. Morea restaurant definitely agrees with me. Their July “Love of Cocktails” dinner pairing series featured Don Q rum, and foods from the Caribbean.

Don Q is a very well known and popular rum from Puerto Rico. My husband was born there, and tells me that this is the rum of choice of native Puerto Ricans. The Don Q rum making process has been passed down through six generations of the Serralles family and is over 150 years old. Don Q also holds a very special place in the hearts of Puerto Ricans. When Hurricane Maria hit the island back in 2017, the distillery immediately initiated fundraising activities, financed and helped with the distribution of meals, and manufactured hand sanitizer for the population and relief workers.

I told you after last month’s cocktail series that this is an event you don’t want to miss, and many heeded my words. There was a great turnout for this dinner pairing and everyone had a great time.

Once again, master mixologist, Billy Hines, came up with four amazing cocktails featuring Don Q rum, and the chef at Morea paired the drinks with amazing food. The first course was fried oysters with alfalfa sprouts, watermelon, honey rum, and caviar. Now I know what you’re thinking. Oysters and watermelon? It was delicious. The oysters had some heat to them, and the watermelon cooled your palate. It was a wonderful combination. The cocktail paired with this was the “Hoochie Mama”. Yes, the name makes me laugh even now, but it was amazing. It consisted of Don Q double aged vermouth cask finish rum, Don Q coconut rum, pineapple infused tequila, orange juice, cinnamon, agave, aquafaba, and grenadine. Billy Hines doesn’t fool around with cocktails folks. This is why he is one of the best mixologists in the city. This drink meshes a pina colada with a Bahama Mama.

Next up was a “Flying Nun” paired with Jamaican jerk chicken, mofongo, and a red beet sauce. The cocktail was made with Don Q double sherry cask finish rum, banana liqueur, agave, lime, pineapple, watermelon, and absinthe. It was so good. You really could taste every ingredient in the glass. We were treated to a sample of the Don Q sherry cask rum straight, and it was so smooth. If you ever see it, please buy it and let me and my husband know. We’ll come over and help you drink it. The jerk chicken had a good level of spice and heat. The mofongo was finely chopped and looked more like a couscous, but was very good nonetheless.

Our third course paired a “Viking Funeral” cocktail with conchinita pabil. The cocktail was made with Don Q seven-year aged rum, apricot brandy, guava, passion fruit, lime, and Don Q 151 rum. The 151 stands for the alcohol proof! It’s the perfect topper for a cocktail, and when lit, burned beautifully. It was a definite crowd pleaser. The conchinita pabil was slow roasted pork, papaya sauce, habanero garnish with red onion, cilantro, and grapefruit. The pork was cooked to perfection and the grapefruit was a nice cooling agent to the habanero and red onion. Trust me when I tell you, Morea puts a lot of time and effort into these cocktail series. You will not be disappointed with the food or drinks.

The final course was dessert. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was the cocktail, paired with a pineapple upside down leches cake with Thai coconut milk. The cake was homemade courtesy of Billy Hines’ wife. I don’t even know where to begin with this last course. It was simply stunning. The cake was super moist, but light, and packed with so much flavor. We could have eaten several slices. It was that good. The cocktail was made with Don Q Reserva anejo rum, coffee liqueur, pressed coconut water, agave, and aquafaba. It was the perfect drink to have with dessert and end the meal.

I can’t stress enough how amazing, and how much fun, Morea’s “Love of Cocktails” series is. Every food and cocktail ingredient is carefully thought out. They really go out of their way to make sure you get your monies worth, but also, they want you to have fun and appreciate craft cocktails and good food. If you can’t make it to one of these events, please make sure to stop in to Morea for Sunday brunch, lunch, dinner, or happy hour. You will not be disappointed, I promise you! The food, drinks and super friendly service will get you hooked, and hopefully coming back often. Make sure when you go to ask about the August “Love of Cocktails” event or check on their website for more information.

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