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 Dutch Bar Treats Gin for What It Is: A National Treasure
Inside Tunes Bar in Amsterdam.
Inside the Most Talked About New Tiki Bar in Years
NYC’s The Polynesian is a next-level new bar.
What Is the Fourth Major Ingredient for Jamaican Rum?
There’s more to the spirit than sugar, water and yeast.
11 Hottest Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now: June 2018
The drinks to know. Now.
5 ‘Star Trek’ Cocktails to Try at Home
Make them all.
London’s Coupette: My Bar in 3 Drinks
Old-fashioned, unpretentious simplicity enters an unexpected neighborhood.
4 Reasons Bars Need More Than One Jamaican Rum
A single bottle isn’t enough for a complete cocktail program.
This NYC Bar Director Really Knows His Booze—And Thinks You Shouldn’t Live Without These 5 Bottles
Trust him. He has worked at at some of the best bars in New York City.
9 Great Cheap Bottles That Bartenders Swear By
No need to break the bank.
The New Mexican Spirits Movement. What You Need to Know Beyond Mezcal and Tequila.
So many spirits in Mexico.
How Old Is the Rum in That Bottle, Really?
The number on the bottle doesn’t always tell the whole story.
11 Hottest Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now: May 2018
Where to go. Now.
Your Horoscope in Cocktails: May 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.
7 Distilleries That Let You Get In on the Fun
Nothing quite like drinking at the source.
The Search for the Jamaican Difference Begins
What is it about Jamaican rum that makes it unlike anything else.
Home Bar Basics: Which Bitters Are Best for You?
Find your most essential bitters.
11 Essential Cocktails for Your April Parties
Make your guests happen.
11 Hottest Cocktails to Drink in Bars Now: April 2018
5 Cocktails That Make the Most of Aged Rum
These recipes are an amazing way to try a delicious new spirit.
Your Horoscope in Cocktails: April 2018
Let your zodiac sign determine what you'll drink this month. Learn more at Liquor.com.
Is Your Favorite Rum as Old as It Says It Is?
The ins and outs of aging labels.
5 Hottest New American Bars Right Now
Get your travel plans going.
This BACARDÍ Legacy Finalist Wants to Bring the Bar and Kitchen Closer Together
Luis Hernandez thinks the food and cocktail menu should play off one another.
This Barbadian Bartender Is Changing the Way We Drink in Paradise
Meet Philip Antoine.
Another Thing to Do with Good Rum? Cook with It.
Fire up the stove.
10 Cocktail Books That Will Keep You Reading (and Drinking) This Spring