Written by Meaghan Clark
Who’s that rum?
Once an elitist spirit that was traded amongst the high seas, rum has an amalgamated history that is sparking contemporary interest, this time among trained mixologists instead of the British Navy. In the 17th century once rum had been cultivated in plantations across Africa, India and Spain by way of harvesting local sugar cane, rum was offered to willing naval participants as wage while being exported to the sophisticated European elite. Eventually, royals turned their eager and impressionable lips to gin, and rum was quickly brushed aside as a sailor’s spirit often paired with a heavy belly and sea salt.
It wasn’t until 1970 that the rum ration sailors provided for high tailing the seas were completely abolished. By that time, the spirit had formed its own kind of calling also inspired by the sea - the tiki drink. Tropical resorts everywhere made rum the spirit when sugary juices and colorful paper umbrellas were involved; the painkiller – a devilish concoction of dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and orange juice – became a sunbather’s favorite.
As modern mixologists unveiled a new sort of cocktail, one where truly simple classics prevailed, rum has once again become a spirit to contend with. From Old Fashions to conspicuous chic tiki clubs in New York and Los Angeles, in the 21st Century rum had seen a comeback.
You’re a What?
Rum varietals are distinct, originating by first fermentation through either molasses or syrup. Americans are friends with the molasses type, while Brazilians have always welcomed Cachaça to their tongues, and rhum agricole is a similar sugar cane by-product of the West Indies. The distinct flavors that are built around each concoction truly define a mixologist’s appreciation for the molasses or sugar cane creation – playing with flavors, originating new treats for bottom dwellers and experimenting with succulent sides for a statement or garnish.
White rum might be the younger sibling to the elder and wiser golden spirit. While it isn’t aged in a barrel like its kin, aged white rum can still impart a seasoned drinker into its reigns with renowned brands coming to its rescue. Truly high end white rum is the only exception for an otherwise crisp, clean spirit that is ideal for the home mixologist.
We shouldn’t have to tell you twice to check the label – pure golden rum with a rich velvety warmth is aged in a barrel and perfected over time. Steer clear of caramel additives that hide what true distillers are attempting to create – pure passion. As complex as the golden hues of this type of rum insinuates, a plain old simple on the rocks will do just fine, too.
Not just for college hangovers, spiced rum has its stereotype but it doesn’t have to be entrusted to knock out your evening. Spiced rum is easily paired with an endless amount of tricks, but a bartender’s true proposal should be to find one that doesn’t leave you regretting your evening for the next morning – choose a brand that is experienced in creating more than just a funky flavor combination, and you’ll recall that early morning munchies attack.
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“People are seeing rum as more than just a one-drink spirit [these days],” says The Liquid Muse Natalie Bovis, “because there are several different types of rum that mixologists are becoming acquainted with and inspired by. Since more classic drinks are coming back due to the mixologist resurgence, people who think of themselves as vodka drinkers, or whatever, are being exposed to cocktails using different kinds of spirits.”
Don Q has been tongue-tested by the lot and raved by all. It helps that the rum has a rich history, filled with sordid tales of both familial appreciation and dysfunction. This Puerto Rico rum has been stupefying sailors since 1865, whom slowly emerged as a heritage-rich spokesperson for the spirit. Since reinstalling its brand into the American culture, even introducing flavored rum in 1998, Don Q is now standard fare for veteran mixologists. The award winning Grand Añejo is most likely the choice.\
VIDEO: DON Q BLOOD AND TEARS
Blood & Tears recipe
2 oz Gran Añejo
2 oz Horchata
.5 oz Honey syrup
2.5 tbs Diced Red Bell Pepper
2 Small Diced Habana Peppers
1 Cinnamon Stick
Pour Don Q Añejo, horchata, and honey syrup into the shaker. Add the peppers and muddle together. Add ice and give a good shake. Strain into a martini glass. Add 2-3 drops of Peychaud's Bitters. Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.
Gosling’s has a long history in the rum business, something very few can claim – and treats itself like a veteran in the biz. Originating on the harbors of St. George’s Bermuda, Gosling’s has taken the time to tighten blends old and new – gold rum, old rum, rum swizzle and of course, the signature black seal rum, have all been perfected under Gosling’s belt. Like any savvy business, Gosling’s turned its popular sip – the dark ‘n stormy – into a contemporary and handy to-go can. Of course, if you want to keep things classy, it doesn’t take a pro to put together this signature rum cocktail.
Dark & Stormy
1.5 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Gosling’s Stormy Ginger
In a tall glass filled with ice, add 4-5 oz. Gosling Stormy Ginger beer and top with black seal rum. Garnish with lime wedge.