1883 Magazine

It’s not everyday that you get to interview the Global Rum Ambassador and ex hollywood rapper while he makes a you special 1883 Cocktail. I met Ian Burrell at Cottons, his restaurant and bar in Camden over a lot of fun, conversation and cocktails. And I must say he looked dapper in his jacket and signature rum hat.


You are the world’s only Global Ambassador for Rum,  what exactly does that mean? Why does rum need an ambassador?

When you leave school and you ask what do you wanna be when you grow up, I wanted to be an actor, was doing Drama and got accepted into the best drama school in London. Then I took a year off and worked in a bar and thats where I learnt about cocktails moreover being born into a Jamaican family rum was always a part of my lifestyle. All the fun drinks had rum in it, So I thought I should do something with rum and that is how I became the world’s first Global Rum Ambassador.

Is Rum a man’s drink? Because personally I am not the biggest rum fan and a lot of girls I know say the same...

Rum is a very versatile spirit, what you do with vodka you can do with white rum, what you do with whiskey you can do the same with aged rum. Rum is so versatile that it works great with cocktails, I have had people who come and say they don’t like rum but then when you ask them what they wanna drink they say Mojito which of course has rum in it. Not everyone can drink neat spirits, they are for a niche audience. When people say they don’t like rum, they just don’t like the way Rum is served to them. So Ladies are you listening?



You are the founder and brains behind UK RumFest…The Rum Experience, why did you get involved, whats this about?

Its an event I started off in 2007, it’s to show how rum is perceived in the tropics. I wanted to have an event to make people understand that Rum is not just a spirit but it’s a lifestyle. 

In Australia, South America, Caribbean or even India when you drink rum as a part of your culture it then becomes a lifestyle. So its pretty much two days of dancing, lots of rum, great music and lots of fun!


In 2013 you were the first person ever to set up a “Pop Up” Rumshack in Antarctica, how did this come about?

I am a bit crazy, one thing someone said to me once in an interview that ‘oh you’re the Global Rum Ambassador but you haven’t been to south pole yet’ and I said you know what I should do it! That is how I landed up with my first Pop Up Rum Shack in Antarctica. 

I found a company that could take us by boat, paid for my ticket, got my mobile rum shack and jumped on! But it wasn’t plain sailing, we had to cross the roughest part of sea at one point which made us horribly sea-sick but the rum kept us going! We were there for 11 days and set up our rum shack  - first time it had ever been done! We sailed from Argentina to Antarctica. We even found a random bar where women can get free drinks in exchange for their bra!


You are a singer, basketball player, mixologist, restaurateur and a TV presenter. How do you manage to wear all these hats at the same time?

I enjoy life and always believed if you have to do something, you do it well. I have been fortunate and I have had a lot of opportunities so I wanted to make sure I did everything to the best of my best abilities. I have played basketball in the national league, have had a couple of big hits in movies with my music - such as the Scooby Doo soundtrack back in 2002-2003, had my tracks in playstation games. No one knew it was me which was great! I only wear one hat at a time and right now I am nothing else but a Rum Guy! My niece is an established singer now so I just let my family wear all the other hats so you can  just enjoy the rum and cocktails.

So where did the passion for cocktails come from? Tell us a little about you site ‘talesofthecocktail.com’. 

My passion came from working in a bar, I used to love chemistry in school. I compare cocktails to making a new chemical compound. Spirits are the elements and alcohol is the compound such as Daiquiri. Bar tenders are now called mixologists and so there you go, it’s all scientific!

What is your favourite cocktail? What cocktail would you make if you had to impress a date?

Rum Manhattan and Daiquiri are my favourite.

For a date I would make Mai Tai because you can never go wrong with it.

Some basic tips on making cocktails

Always try to get balance. For example a punch always has 5 ingredients and the word is actually an Indian word which means five in Hindi, the first punches actually came from India. The way we say it in the Caribbean is one of sour (lime), two of sweet (sugar, honey), 3 of strong (rum), 4 of weak (water, lemonade, juice),and 5 of spice to make it nice (nutmeg, cinnamon).  If you stick with this formula you will make the perfect cocktail.


How did you start your restaurant?

I took over the franchise of cottons in 2009. Its caribbean food, and we try to do traditional and modern caribbean but it is catered to a European or Western audience. So we add a little bit of class and sophistication to the presentation. We never say its as good as Mamma’s cooking but you can definitely bring your mum here.

If you had to pick between a great meal or a lip smacking cocktail, which would you pick?

Depends if I was hungry or thirsty. But to live I have to eat right. I need to food to live and a cocktail to wash it down!


For more info on Ian, The Rum xperience go to:

Interview by Shrimoyee Chakraborty - eatwithmeshrimoyee.com
Photography by Luoana Negut - luoananegut.com

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