Know your Poison: Rum


“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!”
-Robert Louis Stevenson in his classic novel “Treasure Island” (1883)

A gory story has been attributed to the origins of this song, that pirate Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, punished a mutinous crew by marooning them on Dead Man’s Chest, which has high cliffs and no water and is inhabited by pelicans and snakes. Each sailor was given a cutlass and a bottle of rum. Teach’s hope was that the pirates would kill each other, but when he returned after a month he found 15 men had survived. The history of rum is inseparably linked to the Sea and its legacy is traced through the naval explorations of the 16th century, the slave trade, the Caribbean and the seafaring tales of the Pirates who made a name for themselves on the back of many a rum-inspired journey. Made from cane sugar, rum was easily available in the cane-rich Caribbean islands, from where the British naval ships would stock up, and plundering pirate ships would pillage.

Even today, the best rum is said to be Authentic Caribbean Rum, which according to its connoisseurs is pure liquid heaven. Rum is made by distilling fermented sugar (or molasses) and water. In addition to sugar, molasses also contains significant amounts of minerals and other trace elements, which contribute to the final flavour.

White Rums are generally light-bodied. They are usually clear and have a very subtle flavour. If they are aged in oak casks to create a smooth palate they are then usually filtered to remove any colour. White Rums are primarily used as mixers and blend particularly well with fruit flavours. Golden Rums, also known as Amber Rums, are generally medium-bodied. Most have spent several years aging in oak casks, which give them smooth, mellow palates. Dark Rums are traditionally full-bodied, rich, caramel-dominated Rums. The best are frequently aged in oak casks for extended periods. The richest of these Rums are consumed straight up. Spiced Rums can be white, golden, or dark Rums. They are infused with spices or fruit flavours. Rum punches (such as planter’s punch) are blends of Rum and fruit juices that are very popular in the Caribbean.

Experiencing the magic of Rum…

Straight up: Nothing but unadulterated authentic Rum. Serve neat or with a splash of chilled spring water…as nature intended!

On the rocks: Want to unfold the flavours a little more? As the rum crashes and cascades over cubes of cool ice, its rich flavours release further.

Mix it up: Soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, or cola with a squeeze of lime or a dash of bitters – whatever rum mixes with, it’s sweet harmony.

Punch: Punch was invented for rum. Fruity, fun and a perfect way to get any party – or carnival – started.

Cocktails: Rum has to be the most celebrated spirit in a mixologist’s toolkit, adding its golden nectar to countless recipes.

A few favourite rum-based cocktails…

Rum and Ginger: 50ml rum, ginger ale (or ginger beer for an added kick), a dash of bitters (optional), a squeeze of lime

Mojito: 50ml rum; 1 tbsp fresh lime juice; 1 tbsp sugar syrup (2 parts sugar / 1 part water); 6-8 mint leaves; a splash of soda.

Gently muddle mint leaves in a highball glass. Add lime juice and sugar syrup. Fill glass with ice cubes or crushed ice. Add rum and gently churn with a spoon to mix ingredients. Add a splash of soda, top with more ice and garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Daiquiri: 50ml rum; 1 tbsp lime juice; 2 tsp sugar syrup (2 parts sugar / 1 part water).

Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of cubes of ice and shake hard until the shaker frosts. Strain into a martini or cocktail glass. Garnish with a juicy wedge of lime.

Bay Breeze: 50 ml rum; 50ml pineapple juice; 100ml cranberry juice; a lime wedge to garnish.

Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice, shake and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge to finish.

Manhattan: 50ml rum; 2 tsp sweet vermouth, 1 tbsp black cherry syrup; 1 dash bitters; cherry to garnish.

Stir all the ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass until very cold. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve..

Golden Libre: 50ml rum; 3 lime wedges; cola, to top up.

Muddle the lime in a highball glass, fill with ice and add the rum and cola. Stir gently and serve with two straws.