In the cocktail world, it’s white rum that gets all the love: lightly flavoured and with no colour to muddy the other ingredients, it’s an ideal pick (most of the time). However, if you want to taste the rum in your drink, dark rum is the way to go. Here are some of my favourites that showcase dark rum as the king of cocktails.
We’ll kick off with both the simplest and (potentially) most complicated cocktail in the world: The Old Fashioned. At its core, it’s simple enough to barely be a cocktail: spirit, sugar, bitters. However, your choice of spirit, sugar and bitters are all important to create a drink tailored for you.
There are lots of ways to make an Old Fashioned, but this is mine. It’s a big drink and should last a long while – the flavour changes as the ice melts and if it’s still in cubes by the time you’ve finished, you’ve drunk it too fast:
Add the bitters and sugar syrup to the glass with a couple of ice cubes and stir until the ice cubes are coated. Add the rest of the rum and ice, and give it a very gentle stir. Drink respectfully.
While the Daiquiri is traditionally made with a light rum, I prefer the extra kick of flavour you get with a darker spirit. As with the Old Fashioned, it’s as simple as they come: rum, sugar, lime: the original three-ingredient combo that kicked off the cocktail.
Every bartender has their own ratio for making a Daiquiri, and my preference changes almost every time I make one, depending on what rum I have. Fortunately, I’ve stuck with the same one recently, giving me a go-to recipe. But, you’ll probably need to tweak the proportions depending on how sour your limes are…
Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. I don’t garnish my Daiquiris. I use the lime wedge to make another Daiquiri. I’m a monster.
Dark n’ Stormy
This is a classic – rum, ginger and lime – with one issue: it’s been trademarked by Gosling’s. As such the only ‘true’ Dark n’ Stormy is one made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum, and anyone who uses anything else and calls the drink by its name is asking for a lawsuit.
We’ll stick with the official recipe, but as long as you don’t stick it on the menu in your cocktail bar, feel free to switch in another dark rum of your choice:
60ml Gosling’s Black Seal rum
90ml ginger beer
15ml lime juice
Pour all the ingredients in a glass full of ice and give the mixture a quick stir. Garnish with a lime wedge and a cease n’ desist letter.
Another trademarked cocktail, but one that’s very nice – a strange admission from someone who normally won’t allow anything fruity other than freshly squeezed citrus juice in his drinks. This time it’s Pusser’s rum that has its name attached to the cocktail, and despite my opposition to the idea of trademarking a recipe that the company don’t seem to have invented, I occasionally guiltily indulge in a Painkiller.
Here’s their take on its history:
Shake the ingredients over ice and pour into a glass (or a branded Pusser’s tin mug) full of ice. Garnish with a dusting of grated coconut and drink it in a hammock, on a beach, far away from the grasping hand of trademark law.
This is one of those rare drinks that named a glass, although it’s not quite as highbrow as a Martini. According to the story, the inventor was Pat O’Brien, a New Orleans bar owner in the 1940s with a stack of rum that he wanted to get rid of. Inspired by the Daiquiri, he mixed the rums with lemon juice and added a splash of passion-fruit syrup, before serving the drink long in glasses that looked like hurricane lamps.
And with that, a New Orleans classic was born.
However, as usual, there’s no one recipe. Here’s a simple one from Diffordsguide (The Hurricane No.1), made with a punchy rum that I love:
Shake it all up with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass full of ice. If you want the modern New Orleans version, serve it in a plastic cup and drink it in the street. Garnish with pineapple and cherry on a stick.
Corn n’ Oil
I’ve saved the best to last. Another simple cocktail but one that relies on one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets: Falernum.
Falernum is a spiced sugar syrup. It’s thick, sweet and flavoured with at least lime, ginger and almond, like a citrusy and spicy orgeat. It is one of my favourite things.
Its roots are in Barbados, so it only seems fitting that we use a Bajan rum. Like with the Old Fashioned and Daiquiri, this drink is mainly rum, so make sure you use something good – it’s all about amplifying the flavour rather than hiding it. I’ve gone for The Real McCoy, which I was pointed at as a candidate for a Corn n’ Oil by The Rum Diaries blog: this is their recipe.
Pour the ingredients over ice in a rocks glass and stir. It doesn’t need a fancy garnish: just drink and enjoy.
Hurricane cocktail image by MusikAnimal from Wikimedia Commons.