Why just this month alone, both The New York Times and Time Out New York have written about this oh-so-colonial spirit and hailed its return to glory. While rum may have been our founding fathers' drink of choice, its popularity has been eclipsed of late by small batch bourbons and aged single malts. More's the pity. As it turns out, quality aged rum has more to offer than meets the eye.
And, trust me, my both my eyes and my palate were skeptical. Rum has never been a Diva favorite. Sure, I'll sip on the occasional daiquiri or pina colada, given the proper mood and location - think vacation in Barbados - though generally speaking, most rums are far too sweet for my taste. But all this publicity piqued my interest and opportunity knocked in the form of the exceptional brown spirits menu at Gus & Gabriel. (I know, I know, again with the G & G?! Even I'm embarrassed by how often I've eaten there this month.) Long story short - we dined, we ordered a glass of Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 as an after dinner drink, and now I'm a convert.
Aged rum, such as the Ron Zacapa, is similar in character to a fine sherry or tawny port, with a finish that tends toward molasses a/o caramel notes. Make no mistake, the hint of sugar is there ... but its a better, more interesting hint than one typically finds in standard commercial rums. Depending on the brand and finishing, notes of spice, citrus or even leather can be present as well. Suffice it to say that flavor-wise, there's a lot more going here than I'd ever imagined.
Aged rum is delightful as a solo sipper. Enjoy it with a cube or two of ice if you like and, certainly, a water back if desired. Think of it as you would a fine scotch or bourbon and you're on the right track. Hit up that Time Out New York link for a list of reasonably priced aged rums suitable for such sipping. It can also be used in any number of cocktails.
If a festive, summery tipple is your heart's desire, you can't do much better than a classic Dark and Stormy. Does anyone actually need a recipe for this?! Honestly, this one's as old as the hills. I put the husband in charge of bar tending this week - he and the martini shaker have been suffering a bout of separating anxiety of late - and this is the formula he prefers ... taken from John K. Waters' Bar Tender's Guide.
The Dark and Stormy:
- 2 oz. Gosling's Black Seal Rum
- 3 oz. of ginger beer
- wedge of lime
In this case, you must use dark, not white, rum. Really. Its called a "Dark and Stormy", not a "Pale and Somewhat Over-cast." Gosling's is the preferred brand, in fact, I think they invented the drink; though if you have a favorite brand, by all means use it.
A brief word about the ginger beer ... while I failed to procure some in time for my Moscow Mule post, it turns out I was looking in the wrong aisle of the market. It was right there waiting for me all along, tucked in among the regular beer of all things. Will wonders never cease? If you can get your hands on some Jamaican ginger beer, snap it up. If not, Saranac ales makes a fine version.
So, where do you stand on the rum issue? Are you a fan of the aged stuff or more likely to order strawberry daiquiri? Thirsty Diva wants to know.