Associated with piracy and various other illegal trades, rum is produced all over the world but is most associated with the tropical climates of the Caribbean nations.
Rum grew out of the early 17th century sugar processing industries of the English-speaking colonies. The method of sugar production on the plantations produced leftover molasses, which some enterprising soul realized could be fermented into a kind of wine; then distilled into what was known as Kill Divil and eventually, rum.
Wayne Curtis, in his book, And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, sums up rum’s easy-going character: “Rum embodies America’s laissez-faire attitude. It is whatever it wants to be.” There is no standard by which rum is defined: alcohol contents, naming standards and production processes vary from region to region. Basically, if it is made from molasses or sugarcane, it is rum.
Some of the variations you may come across:
Try: Don Q Cristal from Puerto Rico or Cruzan Light Aged from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Gold rum: Dark coloring through aging in oak barrels. Medium bodied.
Try: El Dorado 12 Year from Guyana
Try: Zaya 12 Year from Trinidad or Zacapa 15 Year from Guatemala
Spiced rum: Flavored with the addition of spices such as cinnamon and pepper. Darker in color.
Try: Sailor Jerry
Much like a good Cognac or Scotch, some rums are meant to be sipped –try a premium rum like Zacapa XO or Zaya Gran Reserva. Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Year Old has creamy notes making it a great after-dinner drink.
Rum Cocktails around Town
Papa Hemingway would probably shudder to see the way daiquiris are commonly served these days – pumped out of giant blenders, over-sweetened and flavored. The real deal, as Hemingway was known to enjoy at La Floridita, Havana, Cuba, is a straightforward drink with just a hint of sweetness under the limey tart. Pour two ounces of light rum, an ounce of lime juice and half an ounce of simple syrup into a shaker with ice; shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.
Where to drink it in Columbus: Try the Jury Room’s Jury Juice.
Another of Hemingway’s favorites and invented at La Bodeguita, Havana, Cuba. Crush 5 mint sprigs into the bottom of a chilled highball. Pour in one ounce lime juice, ¾ ounce simple syrup, and two ounces of light rum. Fill glass with crushed ice and garnish with lime wedge mint sprig. Add a splash of club soda to taste.
Where to drink it in Columbus: Try the Ginger Mojito at Third and Hollywood, made with Rogue Spirits Artisan Rum
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
My favorite. This cocktail, which has its roots in Bermuda, is simple mix of black rum, ginger beer and lime. It is not a true Dark n’ Stormy, however, if it is not made with Gosling’s Black Seal (the company actually has a trademark on the name Dark ‘n’ Stormy). Equally important, to me, is the choice of ginger beer (not ale); some people make their own but you can find a decent selection at Weiland’s and The Hills Market.
Where to drink it in Columbus: Rigsby’s Kitchen
This is a guest post from Karen Dion. In a previous life, Karen worked as a Tokyo bar hostess where her income depended upon the number of Champagne bottles consumed. Despite this, she still loves a glass (or two) of champers. Karen has written for Honolulu Weekly, therumpus.net and matadornetwork.com.