I am in the bar of Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour in Covent Garden, central London, trying desperately not to wish I was in the Caribbean. This year would have seen my wife and I, and her family, make a very special trip to Tobago to scatter her father’s ashes on the island that he loved so much.
The family would have conjured memories of him while sipping daiquiris, but two days before we were due to fly, the plague hit and we’ve been slightly resentful ever since.
I’d been looking forward to rekindling my love and fascination for rum, so here I am trying for the next best thing. The summer rain is thundering down outside but I have two wonderful distractions at my disposal: a Rum Old-Fashioned cocktail – and George Frost.
He is the son of Sir David Frost. In several minutes we will be doing our best “Hello, good evening and welcome” impressions and thinking that we are hilarious.
But now we sip. The drink is simple. Rum, Angostura bitters and a swirl of demerara sugar. The rum is good – distilled and fermented from sugar-cane molasses under Frost’s direction – and his brand, The Duppy Share, is now available not only in good bars but in supermarkets too. It has oaky notes; it is mellow and nicely, darkly sugary.
“For me, it’s a drink of comfort, of inclusiveness and unforgettable memories,” says Frost. He adds: “There’s also a hint of chaos about it, as well as being delicious.”
The last time we sipped rum together was in a bar by a beach in Jamaica. We were both on the island for the wedding of some friends. It was an immensely calm spot, a place of huge contrast. An island of mountains, rainforests and lush beaches, but also of dense cities and towns of violence and crime.
Jamaica’s culture is fused from a past of plantations and slavery. Much of its music is the personification of beautiful protest.
I was drinking rum with Frost, relaxing the day after the wedding ceremony and before the next item on the complex celebration agenda. Frost was relaxing after a journey that didn’t quite go as planned. Unlike Emily, my wife, and me, who enjoyed a five-day beach lead-up to the big day, he had planned a tight timetable with military precision.
After the arrival of his flight in Jamaica, he would go to our hotel, swim, change and get to the wedding.
It was all doable within an hour of touchdown. Unfortunately, he booked a flight into Kingston rather than Montego Bay, the difference being a five-hour drive from the former, rather than 20 minutes. No taxi would take on the journey, so he had to hire a rickety car and, with time against him, stopped by a main road to change into his wedding suit. But, down to just his pants in the lay-by, a gust of wind shut the car door and, with his keys in the ignition, it locked shut.
Frost was rescued in due course by a passing police car. Apparently, if you listen carefully, you can still hear them laughing about it today.
He missed the wedding by about seven hours but made it to the party at 11pm, sweating and dishevelled but clutching a bottle of The Duppy Share with a label specially designed with the couple’s names on it.
It was an episode that sums up the crazy spirit of rum. Similarly, I was persuaded once by Ranald Macdonald, the restaurateur and lover of a fine daiquiri, to accompany him to Cuba, where he would show me “the world’s greatest bar” and take me “to dinner with Fidel Castro”.
We scoured the back streets of Santiago de Cuba. “It’s somewhere here,” he insisted. “Just round this corner, I’m sure.” It didn’t appear to exist anymore – and neither did we dine with Fidel. But Macdonald took me to the Partagas cigar factory, where a manager read the news through a megaphone to the workers, and all of them were frisked as they left the building to check they weren’t pinching their beloved stogies.
Macdonald once opened a rum-based bar in Moscow. But he failed to do due diligence and the mafia burnt it down. It is far safer to have a rum cocktail with him at the bar of Boisdale Belgravia, his magnificent Scottish-inspired establishment near Victoria station in London.
Back at Mr Fogg’s, Frost and I order some daiquiris. “It’s just rum, lime and sugar,” he says. “And it shows the rum for what it is. You can’t hide a bad rum in a good daiquiri.”
Frost’s first sip had been from his father’s glass, as a young boy on family holidays to Barbados. We drink to fun, family, chaos and the Caribbean. Then scream: “Hello, good evening and welcome!”
William Sitwell is The Telegraph’s weekly restaurant reviewer. Read more of his articles at telegraph.co.uk/authors/william-sitwell