Rum lovers around the world owe a great debt to a simple plant: sugar cane. Hundreds of years ago, there was a sugar craze in Europe, and colonies were established around the Caribbean to make the sweet commodity. But the production of sugar creates a lot of byproduct—namely, molasses. There wasn’t much use for the thick, sticky, sweet substance until it was discovered that molasses could be fermented and then distilled. The alcohol quickly became popular with pirates, sailors and America’s founders.
Rum also became a key element in the infamous “slavery triangle.” The Brits shipped molasses to New England, where it was transformed into rum, proceeds from the sales of which purchased slaves in West Africa, who were subsequently taken to the sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean and South America.
While the rules for rum production vary greatly from country to country, there are two main types: light and dark. The color of the spirit is primarily determined by the amount of time it has spent aging in oak barrels. The longer it’s been aged, the more color and flavor it picks up from the wood. Some experts say that the Caribbean’s high heat and humidity help speed up the alcohol’s maturation. No matter the color, most rum is still made from molasses, but some brands do use fresh sugar cane juice.
HOW TO DRINK RUM:
While rum can be sipped neat or on the rocks, many famous cocktails use the spirit as a base, including the Mojito, the Piña Colada, the Dark ‘n Stormy, the Daiquiri and the Mai Tai, not to mention the simple Rum and Coke.
This Bartender Really Knows Her Booze—And Thinks You Shouldn’t Live Without These 5 Bottles
Philippa Guy shares her favorites.
Have We Seen the End of the 9-Ingredient Drink?
What is the power of less?
3 Rum Cocktails Instantly Elevated by One New Premium Rum
There’s one aged rum that can elevate all types of rum cocktails.
Pumpkin Spiced Rum Is Available Now
It comes in an aptly chosen pumpkin-shaped bottle and is available at stores now.
How the Mai Tai Became the Calling Card for the Tiki Movement
What makes a great Mai Tai.
A Drinker’s Guide to Making the Most of the National Parks
How to do it right in nature.
What Is the Fourth Major Ingredient for Jamaican Rum?
There’s more to the spirit than sugar, water and yeast.
9 Great Rum Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now
The rum. It’s out there.
Your Horoscope in Cocktails: August 2018
It’s time to listen up and find out what your zodiac sign has in store for you—at least in terms of cocktails.
Inside Tiki Farm, the Biggest Tiki Mug Manufacturer in the World
How the mug magic happens.
4 Reasons Bars Need More Than One Jamaican Rum
A single bottle isn’t enough for a complete cocktail program.
10 Hottest Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now: August 2018
Summer. And it’s time to drink.
Las Vegas Gets Its First Real Rum Shack. And It’s Not on the Strip.
Digging into the new Jammyland.
A Guatemalan Rum You’ve Never Heard of Has Arrived in the US
Why it’s good. And why you should check it out.
How Old Is the Rum in That Bottle, Really?
The number on the bottle doesn’t always tell the whole story.
The Best Frozen Cocktails in All of the United States? Possible.
New Orleans’ Manolito is unlike any other bar in the country.
11 Frozen Cocktails to Make at Home
Fire up that blender!
Tequila Coffee Exists To Make Your Mornings Much, Much Better
The best part of waking up is tequila in your cup.
The Search for the Jamaican Difference Begins
What is it about Jamaican rum that makes it unlike anything else.
There’s Nothing Quite Like Watching Your Drink Get Made Tableside
The art of the performance.
Fire Destroys 65K Liters of Rum in Jamaica
A fire broke out in a sugar cane field yesterday in Trelawny, Jamaica, destroying more than 65,000 liters of rum.
4 Rosé Cocktails You Absolutely Need This Summer
The pink wine. But kind of better.
5 Cocktails That Make the Most of Aged Rum
These recipes are an amazing way to try a delicious new spirit.
Indian Whiskey Brand Is The Best Selling Whiskey In The World
The best-selling whiskey in the world is not only one you’ve probably never tried, you’ve likely never even heard of it.
The Next Phase in Beer Cocktails. It’s Happening Now.
There’s always something new to experience.
9 Boozy Drinks in Bars That Taste Like Childhood All Over Again