The SOMM Journal

August/September 2014

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{ }  81 zone with rum, and because it plays off those exotic flavors, we can experiment with a very unique product," he says. "People are interested in the cocktail, and it has a very appealing look to it." Khandehrish's guests have told him they are fascinated to see the ingredients work together, especially since the Setai Chai is made from four ingredients that are totally unique unto themselves. "The way I approach my cocktails is to ask, 'What is the flavor profile of the spirit?' Asian-style ingredients are more exotic to pair with Chai Rum—and chai itself is such an exotic flavor—so from there my mind started experimenting. The Setai Chai is what evolved," says Khandehrish, who is an expert in the field of unforgettable flavors: He does a lot of Persian cooking, a food culture that's based on spices. He says that's why when Chai Rum came across his bar, it was a natural thing to embrace. The Journey Is Only Beginning Chai Rum was launched in February 2014 and is still in preliminary launch mode. It has been approved for the U.S. and the Virgin Islands and is available through Southern Wine & Spirits in Arizona, New Mexico and Florida, and A to Z Wholesale Wine in Texas. "Tea is so diverse and complex that we have just begun our journey of the mar - riage between rum and tea," says Akal. "It's more than a drink—I am creating an experience for people that makes them feel something. It's about whether color and texture and aroma and taste trans - late into actually taking you somewhere emotionally." Chai Rum is not Akal's only venture—he is a true artist. From his life as a com - poser and artist signed to a major music publisher, he has been a creative director involved in events such as the World's Fair in Seville, Spain, Bastille Day in Paris and Art Basel Miami. Akal was also voted one of the 100 most influential creative think - ers in Florida. As Akal's adventure continues, Chai Rum is steeping its way into the hearts of discriminating imbibers—and the mixolo - gists challenged to inspire them. For more information on Chai Rum, click to Chai To learn about the Setai Hotel, visit "It's about whether color and texture and aroma and taste translate into actually taking you somewhere emotionally." The Setai's mixologist, Philip Khandehrish, shares a laugh with Chai Rum founder Kiran Akal at the Miami hotspot.

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