Generally when I order a cocktail out, or make one at home, I prefer Gin and Whiskey. Manhattans, Negronis, Boulvadiers, Old-Fashioneds, G&Ts, etc… But now that summer has arrived in full, I’ve been trying my hand at a spirit that I’m not totally familiar with: Rum.
I feel like rum has been maligned over the years. Abandoned to plastic cups full of coke, or cloying frozen messes in wide brimmed resort glasses, the spirit rarely gets the attention it deserves. Or rather, it didn’t used to, especially in the dark ages of the 80’s and 90’s. Now we have entire movements devoted to restoring its dignity, and the dignity of the family of cocktails it usually resides in: Tiki. Before you write them off as disgusting, syrup filled tourist drinks, head over to A Mountain of Crushed Ice to see what the professionals are doing.
Summer is the perfect time to explore this wild spirit, and one day, last week, I headed over to Hawthorne Liquor in the hopes of finding a reasonably priced bottle. Last time I bought Rum, two summers ago, I was lucky enough to find Appleton Estate 12 year old at a reduced price. This year I would be lucky enough to find it not only on sale, but with two Riedel snifters included! I was pretty happy.
But what to do with it, now that I had it? Well, clearly the glasses were sold with it for a reason, and the first thing to do with a new spirit is to taste it! So I poured myself a dram, and let it do its thing.
I really prefer barrel aged Rum for drinking. Clear rum makes a great Mojito, but for something like a sipping spirit, it needs to be aged to have complexity and layers. The oak definitely lends it a caramel nose, not unlike a bourbon, but there’s also a fruitiness about it. The closely thing I can think of is Lychee, which is more apparent in a rum like Cachaca, but still present in this Jamaican rum. It’s sweet and light, yet rich.
Like a barrel aged bourbon or rye, rum can also be used in an old fashioned! I don’t have access to my bar right now, so I had to make do: I found a small-jam jar, which works great as a tumbler, soaked some sugar in some barrel-aged orange bitters, which added a bit more oak along with the spicy orange of bitters, added the rum, let it dissolve a bit, added the ice, then twisted a large lemon peel over it to brighten the whole drink. It worked out amazingly!
Finally, the real reason behind my purchase: The Daiquiri. Jeff’s post over on his blog definitely inspired me, but I also never had a chance to drink the Appleton daiquiri Katie at Marche would make, and I really wanted to this summer.
I brought the bottle and my shaker out to Becky’s place, where we enjoyed it out in the sunbathed garden in the evening. A simple concoction of 2 1/2 oz rum, 3/4 oz lime, and 1/2 oz simple syrup. Not frozen, or glowing with corn-starch ridden sweet and sour mix. Just a crisp, rich, delicious summer cocktail. I didn’t have a cocktail glass, but I think I made do.
Now I’m not totally sure on the differences between Jaimaican, Martinique, and all the other multitude of regions, but I do know that, for me, Rum = Summer as much as Rose, Caprese, and BBQs do.
How do you like your rum? Let me know!