Rum Facts for Bartenders

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Rum Facts for Bartenders

Rum Facts for Bartenders

This is the ultimate tropical cocktail spirit. When plantation workers discovered the magical result of fermented molasses and sugarcane juice, the Caribbean was never to be the same again. Rum is not simply the defining spirit of the region. It is also an integral part of the history and culture of the Caribbean, bearing witness to tumultuous political shifts, pirate wars and Royal Navy adventures. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular spirits in the world.

Regional Rums

Rum distillation originated in the Caribbean in the 17th century, with the first experimentations occurring in Barbados and Brazil. These days, rum comes from three distinct regions. From the Spanish Caribbean (featuring countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic) comes smooth anejo rum, noted for its smooth, complex flavours.

English-speaking Caribbean countries, like Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados produce some of the finest examples of dark rum in the world. These varietals have fuller flavours and distinct notes of molasses. Haiti, Guadalupe and Martinique of the French Caribbean produce rum that has been fermented exclusively from sugar cane juice. This type of rum has unique, sweet flavours.

Grades of Rum

Let’s start at the beginning of the rum spectrum. Light rum (also known as “white” or “silver” rum) is widely used in tropical cocktails, like mojitos and pina coladas. It is subtly flavoured and includes cachaca, a Brazilian rum variation that features in the caipirinha cocktail. Next on the spectrum is gold or amber rum. This is a medium-aged varietal with stronger flavours and aromas than its white counterpart.

Dark rum, on the other hand, is a rich variety that has to be stored in heavily charred oak in order to attain its distinct colouring and aroma. It has heady, spicy aromas and notable flavours of molasses and caramel. Spiced rum is a popular version of the amber grade. It is usually enhanced with additional natural flavourings, which include rosemary, absinthe, aniseed and pepper. Contemporary blended rums feature fruit flavourings that are also common in designer versions of vodka. These are mainly used for cocktails, and feature tropical flavours of mango, banana and lime.

Famous Rum Brands

Some notable rum brands have histories that stretch all the way back to the 1600s. One such example is Pyrat Cask 1623, the rum of pirates. It is aged for a minimum of 40 years and has a particularly thick and luxurious texture. It is uniquely peppered with baking spices, giving it a thrilling complexity that distinguishes it from other brands.

Other exceptional brands include One Barrel, hailing from the distilleries of Belize. This amber rum features unique notes of tobacco. Old Monk, on the other hand, is an Indian rum featuring a heavy array of evocative spices. Pusser’s British Navy is the original grog rum, and has been produced on the British Virgin Islands for over 300 years.

As a bartender, you’ll have to know how to make a wide range of tropical cocktails inspired by rum. Common cocktails include the Cuban Mojito, the Brazilian Caipirinha and the Puerto Rican Pina Colada. Other noteworthy island concoctions include the Daiquiri, Brass Monkey and Royal Bermuda Cocktail.