The Golden Age of Rum
The Caribbean. For many an exotic destination of turquoise water lapping on white sandy beaches, palm trees, reggae and calypso music, and a laid back lifestyle made famous by the likes of Hemingway. But for many others, it’s the home of one of the most evocative spirits in the world. Rum!
Harking back to colonial times when plantation owners realised that the molasses left over from sugar production could be distilled into a spirit, rum has a special place in the heart of barmen around the globe – not least because it’s an essential ingredient in some of the most famous cocktails ever created. Think Daiquiri, Mojito, Piña Colada or Long Island Iced Tea and you think rum!
Rum Types and Perfect Serves
The original, and for many, the best. Typically heavier and thanks to it’s molasses base, sweeter than other rums. Much of the taste stems from lengthy ageing in charred oak casks, a process that gives a very smooth, mellow and sometimes slightly spicy finish. Alcohol content varies, with the original strength Navy Rum traditionally at 57%.
Perfect serve? Sipped straight, or in the national drink of Bermuda – a Dark ‘n Stormy
Dark ‘n Stormy – Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Squeeze in ½ a lime. Add 100ml of ginger beer and then float 50ml of dark rum over the top. Garnish with lime and serve.
Often the first rum a drinker will experience, thanks to one of the world’s most famous drink brands – Bacardi. Typically aged in white oak casks that give the spirit slight vanilla and almond notes, the distilled product is then charcoal filtered for clarity and purity. White rum has a slightly sweet taste and a typical ABV of 40%.
Perfect serve? Both the Cuba Libre (rum & coke) and the Piña Colada are favourites. But why not try it in a Monkey Wrench?
Monkey Wrench – Combine 50ml rum and 100ml of pink or normal grapefruit juice in an ice filled Old Fashioned glass. Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, stir and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
The fastest growing sector in rum, golden rums get their colouration and flavour from ageing in charred white oak barrels that have been previously used in Bourbon whiskey production. With more flavour and a stronger taste than whites, they’re equally at home as sipping rum or in cocktails.
Perfect serve? The Havana Sidecar?
Havana Sidecar – Put 50ml Golden Rum into an ice filled shaker. Add 25ml Cointreau or Grand Marnier and 25ml lemon juice. Shake well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Not for the faint of heart, over proof rums have a much higher alcohol content than the norm – Bacardi’s 151 rum at 75.5% ABV being a great example! Bottles often carry warnings about keeping away from a naked flame and some even have stainless steel flame arresters crimped into the bottle neck!
Perfect serve? In sweet rum and fruit juice cocktails such as the Caribou Lou, or the notoriously dangerous Hurricane.
Hurricane – Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the juice of ½ a lime, 50ml white rum, 50ml dark rum, 60ml passion fruit juice, 30ml orange juice, 1 tablespoon grenadine and 1 tablespoon sugar syrup. Shake and then strain into a tall glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
Mostly based on golden rums, these obtain their flavours through the addition of spices such as cinnamon, absinthe & aniseed, nutmeg, vanilla and even pepper! Watch out for cheap spiced rums, which are often made from poor quality white rum, darkened with caramel colouring. Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum is the market leader, and has been responsible for much of the interest in spiced rums.
Perfect serve? Let the spices take a Long Island Iced Tea to new levels.
Long Island Iced Tea – Put 17.5ml of each of the following – Spiced Rum, Vodka, Dry Gin, Tequila, Orange Liqueur, sugar syrup, lemon juice and lime juice – into an ice filled shaker. Shake until cold. Strain into a Highball glass with ice. Top up with cola and garnish with a lemon slice.
Many spirits producers release premium and super premium editions for the connoisseur, and the same holds true in the world of Rum. Famous names to look out for include Appleton Rare Blend, Angostura Cask Collection, Brugal 1888, Havana Club 15, Diplomatico Ambassador and Clement XO. For a Navy style premium look at Pussers, and Kraken Black Spiced rum is an up sell opportunity made in alcoholic heaven!
Perfect serve? These are too good to be mixed! Sip and savour!!
Off the Wall?
Rum production isn’t confined to the Caribbean and there are some really weird and wonderful ‘Rum’ varieties out there. Getting significant attention amongst mixologists at the moment is an unaged cane spirit called Cachaça. Or, why not look out for Canada’s twist on golden rum – known locally as Screech!
Rum is an on-trade hot spot at the moment. Maximise sales by having:
- A rum menu – split by style and geographical area
- Cocktail suggestions
- Tasting events and rum clubs
- Price pointed tasting flights
- Staff training
- A rum display behind the bar – grouped by category and with up-sell options
The 10th UK Rumfest is happening on 22 – 23 October. Why not hold your own event to capture the excitement? rumfest.co.uk