Episode #089 – Rum and Rum Cocktails

Rum is too often thought of as a sweet spirit, “because it is distilled from sugar,” but that ignores the fact that all liquor is distilled from sugar. Although aged rum is often described as having brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla notes, this “sweet” prejudice is unwarranted due to the broad diversity of flavor profiles in rum.

In this episode we acknowledge we got a bit ahead of ourselves with Tiki and Daiquiri episodes before we’d done a 101 on rum. This is our attempt to correct that oversight and extend our coverage of a spirit we both feel is still waiting for its ultimate moment in the cocktail renaissance.

In recent years, we’ve seen a growing interest in rum as “serious” Tiki takes off in major cities across the country. “Serious” denoting Tiki service that is not snarky nor tongue-in-cheek, but truly appreciative of the contribution Tiki brings to cocktail culture.

Likewise, Daiquiri cocktails still suffer from an all-to-often stereotype of syrupy, frozen drinks that feature slushy ice more than the base spirit. Like so many classics, a proper Daiquiri is a well balanced, delightful tipple.

One reason rum seems to suffer from a disproportionate amount of stereotype and misinformation is the rum industry lacks a standard labelling or classification regime for production, aging, and bottling.

Rum Classification is a mess. Most of the common practices for labeling rum provide little transparency to the consumer to indicate production methods, maturation, blending, additives, and most of all the flavor of the end product. In fact, many of the labels can be confusing or even misleading—particularly for someone just getting into rum.

A few alternative labelling regimes have been suggested, but unless they are adopted voluntarily by the industry at large, we aren’t likely to see a meaningful shift toward transparent labeling for consumers anytime soon. This should be most upsetting to home-bartenders because information is key to education and consistency in constructing a well crafted cocktail.

Along with some of the books referenced below in the recipes, we also recommend checking out cocktailwonk.com who has probably forgotten more about rum than both of us combined have ever known about the spirit.

African Plateau (To Have and Have Another by Phillipe Green)

  • 1 ½ oz Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum
  • ¾ oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. falernum
  • ¼ oz allspice dram
  • ¼ oz simple syrup

Method: Combine ingredients in shaker, shake well with ice, strain into a chilled coupe.

Cana Sour (from Rum Curious by Fred Minnick)

  • 1 ¾ oz. Pusser Rum
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. orgeat syrup
  • ¾ oz pedro Ximenez sherry (float)

Method: Combine rum, lemon juice, and orgeat in shaker, shake well with ice, strain into a “small ice” filled rocks glass or wine glass. Float sherry on top.

Royal Bermuda Yachtclub Cocktail (PDT Cocktail Book)

  • 2 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse Amber Rum
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • ½ oz. Cointreau
  • ½ oz. Velvet Falernum

Method: Combine ingredients in shaker with ice, shake until we very chilled (40 seconds), strain into a chilled couple. Garnish with a lime wheel.

  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 generous dash of Falernum
Method: Shake with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slide of orange and a cherry.