Rum is a spirit distilled from sugar cane juice, its byproduct molasses, and sorghum. After rum has been distilled it is clear, colorless, and 190 proof (95% ABV). It's watered down to get it to a palatable 80 proof (40% ABV). There are overproof and flavored rums that don't fit this mold but, 40% ABV is the basic standard.
Unlike Whiskey/Whisky, Tequila, and Vodka, there aren't a lot of rules to making Rum except for being made from sugar cane and it's byproducts.
The differences between the archetypes of this native Caribbean spirit are vast, but the process isn't changed drastically. Just a difference between time aged and type of wood it's aged in.
This "Light" variant is clear and, usually, colorless. To achieve this it is, commonly, aged in pale ash-wood barrels for a year then transferred to stainless steel containers to finish the aging process. Bacardi changes this up and uses specially selected oak barrels. This light variant is less intense in flavor and easier to mix in cocktails.
Gold and Dark Rum
"Gold" rum is aged in dark wood barrels for only 3 years, while it's "Dark" counterpart is aged in dark barrels for five to seven years. Dark rum can be compared to whiskey and aged tequila due to the qualities it takes on from the wood it's matured in. Some brands add caramel to make the liquor look prettier. In my opinion, that is super lame but, to each their own.
Caribbean Spirit: History of Rhum
This liquor is known for it's Caribbean Island heritage. Christopher Columbus was the first to bring sugar cane to the "West Indies"... along with smallpox, measles, and influenza. He was kind of a dickhead but, that's a different story. Rum became a staple in Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. The flavor profiles differ from island to island, especially since the rules of making it are so loose. Rum is fun that way though.
In the 17th century, a trade "triangle" formed between African slaves, sugar, and rum. Not really cool that they were trading sugar and booze for people but, I thought it was interesting.
This liquor was very popular in the New England colonies but... once the revolution began and they severed ties with England, England cut off all trade (including the Caribbean) to the newly formed United States of America. No Rum, No Molasses, and No Sugar. No trade meant that New England had to start making their own booze. They had grain readily available SO Whiskey was that booze and it's now the national spirit of the USA.
The origin of the name "Rum" is a bit hard to pin down. Some say it's a bastardization of the Spanish word "Ron"... which means "rum", so that doesn't make sense to me. More likely it's derived from the Latin word "Saccharum", which means sugar. The last rumor I have read was that it comes from the word Dutch sailors used for their larger drinking cups "Rummers".
Bacardi and Prohibition
Bacardi got wise that the US was going to repeal prohibition. Their response was to lobby to reopen their distilleries before that happened. Their foresight paid off and caused rum's popularity to explode due to Bacardi flooding the market with their product as soon as prohibition ended. Smart move!
Rum was once called "Kill Devil", because, as it was described, it was "Hellish and terrible". It was often given to sugar cane plantation slaves as a way to boost morale. Their work was hot, dirty, and backbreaking. What better way to help ease the pain... Get drunk on Rum!
The cocktail was invented by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox. He led a mining expedition and witnessed local Cubans mixing Bacardi Superior into drinks and decided to take it upon himself to create something. BOOM! The Daiquiri was born.
Rear Admiral Lucius Johnson brought the cocktail recipe to the states in 1900. The recipe has been messed with a bit but, the modern version was created in the 1980s.
- 2 oz. Light Rum
- 1 oz. Simple Syrup
- 2 oz. Lime Juice
Shaken with ice and strained into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnished with a slice of lime.
Ever seen the movie "Cocktail"? You'll know this one if you have. The origin of the Cuba Libre is associated with the U.S. presence in Cuba following the Spanish–American War. The cocktails traditional name, "Cuba Libre" (Free Cuba!), was the slogan of the Cuban independence.
It was created in Havana, Cuba, in 1900. The Cuba Libre became one of the most ordered cocktails in the world! Viva La Revolution!
- 1.5 oz of Light Rum (Traditionally Bacardi Superior)
- Fill with Cola (Traditionally Coca-Cola)
Served in a collins glass or a rocks glass. Garnished with a lime slice squeezed in.
Some recipes call for lime juice but... a little bit of lime juice goes a long way. Be Careful. Enjoy. Free Cuba.
"Why didn't you just tell me it was a RUM and COKE!" - Tom Cruise, Cocktail (1988).