Friday Happy Hour – The Dark and Stormy and a Brief History of Rum
I wanted to reload this HH as it has been almost 3 years since I last talked about it and let’s just say a few of these beverages have been consumed since then. I have read several books during this same stretch on the history of rum and it is as romantic as it is violent and like many things we enjoy today, built on the backs of slavery (shameful but true).
Here is a brief version of the history of rum:
Once discovered in the “New World,” Europe craved and demanded as much sugar as they could get their hands on. They added to cacao (another New World discovery) to make their now famous chocolates, candies and other sweet things that have since been a part of the decadent European history for several hundred years. The West Indies was the spot to grow sugarcane (climate, etc.) and so that is what the Europeans did in spectacular fashion. Take over a native crop, industrialize it, and then haul slaves from Africa to plant and harvest it.
Sugarcane is easy to grow but difficult to process. Slave labor made it easy. This back-breaking and uber-hot work was done throughout the Caribbean and the finished, refined product was shipped to the American colonies and throughout Europe.
The byproduct of this refinement of the sugarcane was molasses. Early on it was simply discarded, but eventually, the colonists in particular figured out this intensely sugary syrup would ferment and could be distilled into a dreamy elixir – rum.
Sugarcane grown, harvested and refined through slavery. Refined sugar shipped to Europe (America too) for desserts, candies and treats, and now the fermented molasses was also being shipped, and in large quanitities, by way of rum. This incredible and simple crop literally grew entire industries that are still around today!
Rum is still super popular today in a various of mixed drinks and was actually the most popular spirit in the Americas for many decades until the Irish and Scots emigrated en masse and brought their whiskey-making ways with them. More on that another time.
Enough history…let us drink!
Original Post from 10/2013
One of the great discoveries of the summer of 2013 has been the Dark and Stormy. I had never heard of it (weird, right?) until Ruhlman and the DALS husband/wife team put something up on it on their blogs…probably older posts but hey, its new to me!
Over the past few months I have been exploring all sort of new cocktails. Being a little behind in the cocktail game, I decided I would skip all the hipster types with all kinds of goofy ingredients and go back as far as I could. I am talking pre-prohibition when possible. I have rediscovered the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, the Negroni and dozens of others. Along the way I have learned a little about Bourbon, Rye, and other whiskeys. Have discovered that it is possible to have a Vodka that actually as some flavor and aroma to it (Bainbridge Distillers) and you don’t have to add fruit juice or soda pop to anything to make a drink taste good, especially when you have good spirits on hand.
I may be making this up but the Dark and Stormy appears to have roots well before prohibition. In fact, the ingredients to make this simple and delicious drink all seem to have some bloody heritage in the slave trade and in the “other” British colonies. Want legit ginger beer? Guess what? It either comes from England or Bermuda or Jamaica. Good rum? MUST BE from that same part of the world (black strap molasses is king). Oh, and remember how rum came to be? Yeah…that was the fermented molasses by-product of all the sugar cane that was being sent back to Europe. Dirty English bastards.
Well, I suppose we shouldn’t reject everything just to be politically correct. I mean there IS good rum, then and now, and well, fermented ginger is pretty much awesome and when you add a lime wedge or two, you now have something that I wish I could drink on a sandy beach and not just the cold swept Washington coast.
The Dark and Stormy
Take your favorite glass or jar and smash a lime wedge into the bottom and then drop it in. Fill with ice to the brim. Fill with your favorite dark rum, about 2-3 oz (I really liked Kraken, Goslings, and some black strap called Old Brigand that I was referred to) and then fill the rest, about 3-4 oz, with your favorite ginger BEER (not ginger ALE!!!!). I loved Fentiman’s (even though it is non-alchoholic) and Crabbitt’s and have now discovered Fever Tree from England which is wicked awesome. Chuck another lime wedge into the top. If you put in a jar, you can put a lid on it, and well, you can…take it with you.
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