Rum: The Spirit with a Past

Rum is a long-celebrated liquor that has shaped not only the cocktail world but also influenced colonialism, slavery, and economics. With tomorrow being National Rum Day (and a Friday), celebrate the last few weeks of summer with fellow rum enthusiasts with the one spirit that invokes salty ocean breezes, and tropical adventures.

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The History of Rum

Starting in the Middle East, Arabs first introduced sugarcane to the Mediterranean region of Europe, which eventually led to Portugal enslaving Africans to work in nearly eighty sugar mills in the 1500s. This growing trade eventually came to the America’s, where slaves milled sugarcane and formed it into molasses. Once fermented and distilled, rum made its way onto scene, becoming the most stylish drink of the 1700s.

Rum Fame

In 1758, George Washington supplied voters with 28 gallons of rum, and 50 gallons of rum punch prior to his election in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Washington wrote to his campaign manager, “My only fear is that you spent with too sparing a hand” which makes sense during a time where the average American was consuming 3.7 gallons of rum per year.

Probably most famous for drinking rum are pirates in the sugarcane-rich Caribbean. While pirates would drink whatever they could get ahold of, the average crew drank the cheap and available rum. In 1740, the addition of citrus and water to rum (grog) proved to help ward off scurvy as well as the foul taste in stale, barreled water available on the ship.

Where to Drink Rum in the District

Here are some picturesque places to sip rum-based cocktails. Or if you prefer something more neat, most of the establishments listed below offer rum flights, sipping rums, and extensive rum lists with unique flavors.

Photo by: Tiki TNT

ArchipelagoTruck Bed Funeral – Mezcal, navy strength rum, peach cordial, grapefruit, cinnamon, served in a skull. Trust me, you don’t need more than one.

Bar CharleyNight Night Juice – Demerara & white rums, Kronan Swedish punsch, Batavia Arrack, Agnostura & orange bitters, Absinthe.

Casta’s Rum BarEl Presidente – Aged rum, Lillet, grenadine, bitters or Sacco – Aged rum, lime, coconut water, soda.

Jack Rose Dining SaloonVelveteen Dreams – Cotton & Reed dry spiced rum, Mancino Blanc vermouth, Key Lime Pie Falernum, OJ.

Colada ShopHotel Nacional – White rum, dark rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, lime apricot puree.

Tiki TNTScorpion – Thrasher’s White Rum, brandy, orange, lemon, Orgeat.

Cuba LibreParadise Rum Punch – Don Q Gold Rum, Don Q Coco Rum, Licor 43, falernum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice, coconut milk, guarapo, Angostura bitters.

Coconut ClubIs that thing on fire? – Rum, more rum, mezcal, tropical juices, even more rum, wray and nephew fire (serves 2) or Hawaiian Iced Coffee – Iced coffee, rum, coconut-spice whipped cream.

Rum Cocktails you may not Know

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El Floridita (sometimes called the Hemingway Daiquiri) – 1 ¾ ounces white rum, 1 ounce lime juice, ¾ ounce Maraschino. Shake and strain.

Jamaica Rum Punch – 1 tablespoon of sugar, a little water, the juice of half a lemon, 1 ½ ounces Jamaican rum, and 1 ½ ounces of Irish whiskey poured over ice.

Classic Daiquiri – 2 ounces of white rum, ¾ ounce simple syrup, and ¾ ounce lime. Shake and strain.

Rums to add to your Collection

Don Papa Rum 10 Years

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“This rum from the Philippines is aged in re-charred ex-bourbon barrels for a silky, intensely rich vanilla-forward bourbon with pops of dried tropical fruit.”

Diplomatico Rum Reserva Exclusiva

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“Distilled in copper pot stills 12 years, Diplomatico is considered among the best Venezuelan rums. Its banana flavors are prominent, but with ice the rum comes alive with subtle spice, dry vanilla, and smooth chocolate.”

Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Jamaica Rum

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This “21-year-old Jamaican juice has aromas of orange peel, cocoa, and coffee, and shows its complexity best with a bit of ice or water.”

El Dorado 1988 25 Year-Old

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Distilled in Guyana in 1988, and “created to mark the turn of the millennium. It’s rich and viscous yet smooth, with notes of tropical spice, coffee, and fig.”

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