The Four Seasons of Rum

Recently at the Museum of the American Cocktail, Wayne Curtis, cocktail correspondent, and author of "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails", demonstrated the great versatility of rum, and how well it blends with many traditional and unexpected ingredients, while discussing its colorful history and culture in North America.

His main premise during the 2-hour lecture/demonstration is that this most essential of liquors not only perfectly pairs with clear mixes, like tonic, and with fruit juices and fruit slices, but rum is also an excellent mix with other rums.

According to Curtis, each rum has its own style and characteristics based on many factors during the distillation process, and in particular the types of molasses and sugar cane used from the outset in each rum’s manufacture. Because rums created in one place on one island develop in a certain way, they are well-suited to be blended with a wide variety of juices, mixes and fruits. And particular rum characteristics also lend themselves to pairing with other rums distilled in other places.

Curtis delved into the economic history of rum and how the presence of a rum distillery was often the defining industry of the style of life and culture for an entire island. Then he carried that premise through to the presence of rum following Prohibition when restaurateurs and bar managers concocted a whole social movement known as Tiki. Rum-based drinks were, and still are, the raison d’être for this fun and happy culture.   

Throughout the lecture, he also showed how rum is not just a refreshing summer beverage, but can be used year-round to create imaginative cocktails perfectly suited to the season of the moment. The lecture was punctuated by examples of perfectly-created cocktails, served to all in attendance. The history and legend about each drink served as the backdrop for instructions on how to make and serve definitive and traditional rum cocktails.

Rum Toddy (Winter)

  • 1-1/2 oz Mt Gay Extra Old
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 thin kumquat slices
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • boiling water

Put rum, sugar, cloves and kumquat slices in a mug, top with boiling water. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Mai Tai  (Spring)

  • 1 oz dark Mount Gay Extra Old
  • 1 oz Flor de Cana 5 Year Black Label
  • 3/4 oz orange curaçao
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz orgeat syrup

Shake all ingredients with crushed ice; pour drink and ice into glass. Garnish with mint. 

Rum Swizzle   (Summer)

  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1.5 oz Mount Gay Silver
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • top with club soda

Build in highball glass, then swizzle.

Ti Punch   (Fall)

  • lime wedges (small)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 oz cane syrup
  • 1.5 oz Depaz White (or Clement Premiere Canne)

Squeeze lime wedge into rocks glass. Add cane syrup to taste, then rum. Add one or two ice cubes (optional). Stir.

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