National Rum Day is upon us and what a great spirit to celebrate!! Not only is it one of the most, if not the most, widely used spirits in cocktails, it also has a fascinating history.
It all started in 17th century Barbados, though some argue it was actually in Brazil, when there was literally so much molasses (a by-product of making sugar) that plantation owners, not having any use for the stuff, dumped it into the ocean. It wasn't long before some crafty slaves figured out a way to ferment and later distill the molasses in turn creating the early predecessor to rum (which more closely resembles present day Guaro than rum).
The recipe was quickly perfected and rum took off like wildfire, piggy-backing on the sugar trade and quickly becoming popular in present day New England, across the Atlantic in Europe and of course with sailors and pirates alike. As a matter of fact, rum was so popular with the New England colonists that a distillery was setup on present day Staten Island in 1664 to meet the colonists never-ending demand, one in Boston quickly followed. The New England colonies quickly became the largest supplier of rum in the world and rum turned out to be the colonists' most lucrative industry with it even being accepted as a form of currency by some countries in Europe for a time.
It wasn't long before the British Navy took advantage of the popularity and demand for rum and in 1731 began issuing its sailors half a pint of rum twice daily, along with a gallon of beer, as part of their pay. By 1740 British Admiral Vernon declared that the vice of drunkenness had too visibly increased in their mariners and as such had a quart of water mixed to every half pint of rum effectively weakening the drink, this quickly became known as grog. Vernon also pushed to have limes and sugar added to the concoction to make it more palatable, this led to grog made with lime juice being referred to as limey, which in turn led to many American colonists referring to the British at limeys. The rum rationing tradition in the English navy continued until July 31st, 1970 when the rum rationing was put to an end, this day became known as Black Tot Day and is a day that will forever be a black mark on the English's valiant naval traditions.
The American colonies continued to control the rum markets until their preference slowly turned from rum to the native bourbon. Control and production slowly began to move back to the Caribbean and by the time prohibition kicked in the Caribbean was once again in control, at the time over 50% of the world's rum production came from Cuba alone. The Cuban dominance only lasted until Bacardi decided to move the majority of their rum production to Puerto Rico due to Castro's nationalization.
Today the majority of rum production remains in the Caribbean with each set of island producing its own unique type. Rum also remains one of the most widely consumed spirits in the world with cocktails like the Mojito, Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Pina Colada, Rum Punch and even the Long Island Iced Tea all using rum, and that is just a scant few of the cocktails that use rum.
In the end this article is simply a quick look back at rum and its storied past - whole books have been written on this legendary spirit covering where it was created, how rum characteristics changed over time, how different locations and traditions produced different rum qualities, how governments affected it....the list goes on and on.
****BONUS****Look bellow for a great rum based cocktail created by our friends at the Tonga Hut. The perfect addition to your National Rum Day Celebration!!!
Tonga Huts DB Punch
Fill a shaker with ice and add the following
Throw in a straw and ENJOY!!!!!
- 2-2.5 Ounces Appleton Rum
- 2-2.5 Ounces Canton Ginger Liquer
- 1.5 Ounces Torani Blood Orange Syrup
- 1.5 Ounces Orange Juice
- 1.5 Ounces Pineapple Juice 2-2.5 Ounces Fresh Lime Juice
Shake, strain into a high ball glass and garnish with some girlie fruit and maybe an umbrella.
Throw in a straw and ENJOY!!!!!