Rum & Cocktails

The best thing you can do with great rum is drink it straight, perhaps with a little ice. As with the best whiskies and brandies, it's the least you can do to show a little respect! Of course, there is plenty of rum that somehow falls short of such illustriousness. Luckily, all but the most unspeakably foul can find a worthy home in a cocktail!

If your rum is wretched, you need some other ingredients that will disarm the jagged edges while leaving the kill-devil's meager virtues a door to stagger through. For this purpose, there are numerous punches and cocktails where rum plays a supporting role, or perhaps is itself propped up by another spirit entirely. You'll find gobs of such recipes - some better than others - with a simple search on CocktailDB.com. But let's take the Fogcutter as an example (from Tony Ramos via Dr. Cocktail's Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails):

1 oz white rum
1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz brandy
1/2 oz sweet and sour mix
2 dashes simple syrup
Combine with ice and blend. Pour into a goblet. Add a float of cherry-flavored brandy on top, and serve.

There's rum in that drink. It says so right there at the top.

Another great strategy for rums, including those that are merely mediocre, is to mix them; the result can indeed be greater than the sum of its parts! Tiki drinks are all about this technique. Take Trader Vic's Mai Tai (this being the recipe published in Beachbum Berry's Grog Log):

1 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz Curaçao
1/4 oz orgeat syrup
1/4 oz rock candy syrup
1 oz aged Jamaican rum
1 oz Martinique rum
Serve in double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and spent lime shell. Garnish with mint sprig.
[Note that you may need to jimmy with the orgeat and sugar syrup proportions, depending on what orgeat you've got on hand.]

If you look, you will find many recipes that seek combinations of dark rums, aged rums, light rums and even over-proof rums. I have no idea what this recipe is - I found it, untitled, on a scrap of paper amongst my notes - but it sounds great:

1 1/2 oz light rum
1/2 oz Jamaican rum [aged]
1/2 oz 151-proof rum [look for Lemon Hart 151-proof Demerara rum]
1/2 oz Falernum
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
Shake all that with ice, strain it in to a tall glass, and fillerup with spicy ginger beer [we like the red-capped Blenheim's best].

Now, before we get any more carried away, we must pause and pay our respects to the Daiquiri: rum and lime juice, sweetened with a little sugar cane syrup. Do yourself a favor, travel abroad, stop by the duty free on your way home, pick up a bottle of Havana Club Añejo 3 Year, and make this drink:

2 oz light rum
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (half a lime)
a barspoon or two of sugar syrup (depending on how strong the syrup is)
You can either blend it or shake it with ice and serve it up. With a lime wheel. Or not. It's wonderful.

The Daiquiri is a drink with Cuban roots, but if you run out of genuine Cuban rum, you can always work with any of the rums from the lighter end of the scale - Puerto Rican, Dominican - and achieve a similar effect.

Finally, if you've found a decent-to-above-average aged rum that you enjoy but wouldn't mind jazzing up, make a rum Manhattan. No kidding! Stir a couple ounces of that rum with a little sweet vermouth - use a fresh bottle, not one that's been sitting around for six weeks (or, heaven forbid, longer) - with ice cubes and a dash of bitters. Strain it into a chilled cocktail glass, and omit that abominable red cherry. The rum is still all there, but something new has been added! It's smooth as silk, too.

The fact is, we've only scratched the surface. Statistically speaking, there are probably more cocktail and mixed drink recipes that call for rum than any other spirit (other than, perhaps, gin). Many rum recipes are just obvious variations on other recipes, while some are counter-intuitive, yet sublime. Ponder this drink, resurrected and set right by Dr. Cocktail, featuring the caramel-soaked dark rum for which Jamaica is so well known:

The Millionaire
1 1/2 oz Myers Original Dark Rum
3/4 oz Sloe Gin
3/4 oz Apricot-flavored brandy [the best is Marie Brizard Apry]
Juice of 1 fresh lime (1 to 1 1/2 oz)
Shake as though with the heebie jeebies in an iced cocktail shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.