With most spirits, each has its own sordid past of shame, public indecency and moral corruption. But as the new world evolved so did our spirits, they moved from the back alleys, bath tub joints and boot legging hideouts to state of the art distilleries. While the spirits evolved some of the old impressions of yesteryear still lingered in the minds of the drinker. Rum is no exception to these historical indifferences with sordid tales of rum runners, pirates, and the slave trade while modern tales of teenage angst, late night binges in the headlights of a Camino by the local waterhole still sear in peoples memories. But rum's image is getting a huge transformation in the form of beautifully balanced, crisp blancos and rich, creamy anejos. Very quickly more and more examples of the Caribbean's finest export are making their way into the bar and onto the hippest bars cocktail lists.
Rum is becoming more popular within the bartending community because of its amazing versatility. What other spirit can be gentle sweet white rum to thick, smoky dark rum with everything in between. Rum is distilled from molasses, which is derived from sugar cane; sugar cane was originally from the Canary Islands, but was introduced to the West Indies by Christopher Columbus. The word rum is believed to come from a number of sources, two of which are rumbustion meaning uproar & rumbullion meaning rumpus (probably from what happens when rum was consumed). The other, is Latin for sugar, saccharum. Whatever the meaning of the name, the word rum has been dotted throughout history that many other spirits cannot contest to.
It is thought that the first spirit distilled in the US was in fact rum, distilled in Boston from molasses imported from the West Indies. Rum can be distilled anywhere where sugar cane is readily available. By the mid eighteenth century, there were nearly one hundred distilleries dotted throughout the Caribbean, each producing their own style of rum. Each country has a distinctively different style of rum making, from the smooth "single barrel" styles of Nicaragua, to the smoky styles of Jamaica. With white, dry rums to 12 year old full bodied sippers, the list is endless.
When you think of classic Caribbean cocktails you start thinking about Daiquiris, Mojitos and Batidas. They all use rum as their main component; they are refreshing, cool and the hippest thing to drink at the trendiest bars. But rum has more versatility than just the classics; white rum can replace vodka in cocktails while darker rums can replace scotch and whiskies. Your creative abilities are endless and people are starting to realize this as well, Vinnie Jones and his Bacardi Mojito ads had a huge hand in the push for rum drinking.
Mixologists are now getting on the rum band wagon as well. Chris Guthrie from Elysium in Brisbane, Australia says "I love rum, it is easily my favorite spirit, so many different styles and tastes make rum the most versatile spirit in my opinion, from a light white Cuban style rum in a mojito to a heavier aged rum from Jamaica in a treacle or Mai Tai. Rum is definitely the king of spirits, so much history as well."
Rum is now making a significant impression on mixology throughout the funkiest bars. Next time you're in that funky little hot spot, ask for a aged rum on the rocks or a mojito and join the latest trend in spirits.
"VIVA LA REVOLUCION DEL RON"