Rum wisdom

ImageAll categories of Rum know a huge sales revival. It’s a fact that bartenders, can’t ignore. In this article I will not extend historical knowledge on Rum, as this spirit has a long story, related to much slave trade, colonisation of the Caribbean’s, treachery and revolution. I would like to give everybody a hint of what were rum cocktails before they were associated with oversweet frozen daiquiris, fruity mojitos and sacrilege Mai tai’s. There was a life a MUCH better one for rum before Pina coladas and tikis.

For those who think, ”I can’t do rum” I’m guessing you think that for the main reason of it being, because of a really rough binge session back in your teenage day with a cheap rum. Or just a bad experience with a catastrophic repetition of over diluted mojitos in a random boozer. Take a second to think again, Rum is like whisky, there’s just as many different types, with completely different flavour profiles, complexity, richness and smoothness. But you can’t really compare a light crisp Cuban rum, really briefly aged, with a good old rich and smooth Nicaraguan vintage. If the AOC rum agricole de Martinique is high proof crisp and vegetal, the Guatemalan rums will be more on the fruitier, caramel, spicier side.

Unlike many would think, pretty much all types of rum can be mixed. If the light un-aged ones are ok to be mixed with pretty much any juice, the life changing cocktails, will be made with old rums, and simple ingredients, warm liqueurs, bitters, vermouth…

Rum has been used to prepare what is one of the oldest cocktails still made today in modern cocktail bars. The Grog, consists of rum and water, sometimes lemon or lime, with nutmeg or cinnamon.  This was introduced in the British Royal Navy, in the middle of the 18th century. The idea is pretty much essence of the cocktail. Take a spirit, too strong and possibly too rough and dilute it down to improve the taste and lower the strength. Molasses were soon added. We’re not talking about Zacapa solera, we’re talking about proper pirate booze, roughly distilled, poorly aged and stored, possibly macerated with a couple of dead mice.  Sailors had a daily allowance of rum, originally half a pint, twice a day. Diluting it down was meant to reduce drunkenness on board and the indiscipline related to it.

 This is pretty much how everything started. This laid the bases for the mojito and the daiquiri, and then plethora of cocktails. A mix of hot sun, hard work, and a justified need of intoxication led the inventors of these drinks to blend the ingredients needed to create these recipes that have lived thru the ages.

So as we go on, if you are looking for something different than sugar rum and water, no need to drown yourself into gallons of juices and coconut cream. Before the tiki and the disco era were born, rum had a life. Fairly easy to obtain during prohibition thanks to the rum runners, and still accessible in Cuba for the drunks that were wealthy enough to afford the trip to imbibe despite their homeland regulations, it is the base of many incredibly tasty classics, that are mostly forgotten these days. We owe to prohibition a series of relatively simple drinks such as:

The Mary Pickford, created by a Cuban bartender for the American actress pioneering silent movie (the cheeky little bugger had now set the base on how to easily impress a female customer, we all have named a drink after a fit patron ourselves). Rum, pineapple juice maraschino and grenadine.Image

El Presidente, 4:2:1:0,5 slightly aged rum, red vermouth, Curacao (less sweet than triple sec), grenadine (home made please), created by one of these American bartenders who fled the Great ExperimentImage

Nacional special, again, slightly aged rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup, apricot brandy (4:2:1:1:0,5), and again, created by another Yankee bartender in CubaImage

Maybe among my personal favourites, The papa doble, or Hemingway Daiquiri, or Daiquiri #3, according to personal researches (not so pushed), 99% of people ordering this drink will be bartenders. Created for Ernest Hemingway, famous alcoholic bipolar diabetic regular at La Floridita, what a legendary chap. The guy wouldn’t have any sugar in his daiquiris, and liked it stronger and bitterer. It is really important that you use freshly squeezed juices on this one. If you wonder what your Mexican elbow is there for, it’s time to use it. White Cuban rum, freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime juice, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur.  Please report any bartender that you see adding sugar to it.Image

We could talk all night long about prohibition rum drinks, but that’s not the (main) point. I am just trying to awake you curiosity on drinks that you might not think of ordering or recommending. I like to compare these drinks to the good old vinyl records that you rediscover in your dads collection. Would you rather listen to 1D, or a good old Joe Cocker? Exactly. Remember, if these drinks survived the 18th amendment and are still enjoyed today, they must be somehow good.





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