Friday, March 11, 2011

How to Build Your Cocktail Bar, Part 2: Rum

Last week, we started this series with a look at must-have gin and vodka for building your home bar. In this installment, we move on to another staple: rum. This libation is made from fermented and distilled sugar cane juice, or more commonly, molasses. Though most often associated with South America and the Caribbean, rum is made around the world and can exhibit wildly different characteristics from distillery to distillery. This variety makes this a particularly fun category to experiment with, but there are some essentials that you’ll want to look at to start.

First, you’ll need to get yourself a basic light rum; this is the bottle you’re likely to reach for most often when mixing. These are produced in one of two ways: bottling fresh after distillation, or barrel aging followed by filtration to strip the color. In either case they are generally very affordable; the challenge lays in finding the right one to suit your tastes. Denizen Rum is one of our perennial favorites as its easy to mix in a broad array of cocktails, but flavorful enough to keep things interesting. If you’re curious about the fresh, distinctive flavor of rhum agricole in a light rum, we suggest turning your shaker to Neisson Blanc as a delicious starting point.

Next, we recommend a bottle of gold rum as an addition to your mixing arsenal. Aged in barrel without the heavy filtration of an aged light rum, these spirits retain character from the wood. You can expect a hint of vanilla and butterscotch flavors in these more mature bottlings. While many of these are also wonderful on their own, they add another layer of toasty complexity to rum drinks. We recommend Angostura “1919” 8 Year Old Blended Rum as a starting point; try it in a Planter’s Punch at your next party to keep your guests quenched.

Finally, a rich and flavorful dark rum is a requirement for the well-prepared cocktailian. Lending a mouthwatering vanilla, caramel, and spice character to your drinks, these spirits are aged in heavily charred barrels for a more assertive profile. Though many of these are delicious on their own, they’re also a must for a Dark and Stormy. Two mouthwatering options are Cruzan Black Strap Rum and Gosling’s “Black Seal” Rum.

The Classic Daquiri is a wonderfully easy cocktail that is delightful in warmer weather.

2 oz. white rum
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Shake with ice and strain. Serve in a chilled cocktail (martini) glass.

Happy mixing!

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