Now cock an ear ye scurvy dogs and we’ll learn ye something about the juice of the cane, or we’ll have ye walkin’ the plank before ye can say Jean Laffite.
Rum, as any son of a sea slug worth his salt knows, is the product of distilling the fermented juice of sugar cane and molasses. Molasses is a by-product of refining sugar. Rums will vary by color, weight and sweetness, just like the wenches at our last port o’ call. Using more molasses will produce a darker, sweeter rum. Light rums have less molasses and are drier as a result.
Rum is a tropical spirit, like that twit Jack Sparrow, because it’s generally made in countries between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and it’s just the thing when crossing them doldrums. We privateers have been trading on it since the 1600s, and the British Royal Navy has been associated with rum since 1655 when them blaggers captured Jamaica. In fact, it wasn’t until 1970 that the Royal Navy did away with the sailors’ daily rum ration, which they called a “tot.” They oughta swing from the yardarm for that.
Because of its tropical origins rum lends itself to lots of fruity and fun cocktails. Here are a few for ye to try if you ever get shore leave, ye barnacle-faced dogfish, and you’ll be shark bait if ye forget the paper umbrellas.
Daiquiri – Muddle 2 sugar cubes (or 1 tsp. sugar) with the juice of a lime (fresh lime only ye scuttlin’ sandcrab). Add 2 oz. light rum, shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and/or a maraschino cherry. This was that marlin-poachin’ blowfish Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drink.
Mai Tai – Now that’s an old Tahitian phrase meaning “out of this world” which could well describe Tahiti itself. This drink was invented in 1944 by Victor Bergeron, he of the famous Trader Vic’s restaurant and Tiki Bar. Squeeze a lime into a shaker. Add 2 oz. golden rum, ½ oz. of Curaçao, ½ oz. almond flavored syrup and ¼ oz. simple syrup. Shake vigorously with cracked ice and strain into an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Two of these and sarongs start flyin’ like the Jolly Roger.
Piña Colada – Har, well ye can’t help lovin’ these tasty little wenches.
Put 1 ½ oz. golden rum, 1 ½ oz. of coconut cream, 4 oz. pineapple juice and 4-5 ice cubes in a blender and give it a whizz until it’s slushy. Pour into half a coconut shell (available on any desert isle) and garnish with a pineapple chunk and a cherry. And don’t forget the paper umbrella, ye grouper-headed cockatoo.
Well now, we’ve told ye what to make, but the question remains – what to make it with? Don’t let it be said that I’d leave ye hangin’ out to dry like a salt cod without makin’ a few suggestions, and here they be.
SHIPWRECK – From the beautiful isle of St. Kitts, the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere at 69 square miles (and you thought I was just a pretty face), Shipwreck is a family-owned, artisanal distillery. This spiced rum is molasses based, aged in oak barrels for 4 years and has flavors of nutmeg, clove, orange and exotic island spices. A great base for mixed drinks, or just chilled in your flagon. Bin 94 Wines has this as well as Coconut, Mango, Vanilla and Coffee rums from Shipwreck. Take one to your galley for just 6 doubloons – that’s $20.99 to you, ye waterlogged sea snake.
THE KRAKEN – Aye, ye must beware the Kraken, the sea beast of myth and legend that can live 3,000 feet below the surface, just ‘round the corner from Davy Jones’ locker. This 94 proof rum is strong, rich, black and smooth – they were gonna call it Oprah, but she’s not a maneater. This is the perfect rum for a Dark and Stormy or a Black Mojito. Try it for 12 strings of pearls or $25.99.
RON ZACAPA – This is rum from the Guatamalan Highlands, aged in barrels in the “house above the clouds” at an elevation of 7544 feet, where the cool temperatures allow the rum to age slowly, creating a rich, mellow and tremendously flavorful product. Done in the Solera method, rums of different ages are blended together after aging in whiskey, wine and sherry barrels from 6 to 23 years. And where most rums are made with varying amounts of molasses, Ron Zacapa is made only from virgin sugar cane honey, which is to rum what extra virgin is to olive oil. The yeasts used in fermentation are extracted from pineapples, adding yet another dimension of flavor. This fine rum is for sipping, and if you must, put one ice cube in it. No other son-of-a-seadog frippery required. Take home a flask for 3 gold sovereigns, a bolt of silk and two pigs or just stand and deliver $45.99.
One last question for ye: Do you know why privateers are called “Pirates?”
Because they ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!
‘Til next time ye dolphin-nosed dugong.