So… What Do I Actually Do With Rum?

October 12, 2017

You’re living a certain lifestyle now that means having a bottle of rum at home is not aspirational, but an actual reality. Congratulations!

But once you’ve bought a bottle of rum and spent 15 minutes doing pirate voices in the privacy of your own home, what do you actually do with rum? What is rum? Why is rum?

We’ve got all the answers you need.

Are there different kinds of rum?

Yes! Yes, there are. When you’re shopping for this sweet molasses spirit, you’ll generally find that they’re split into ‘white’ and ‘dark’ varieties.

White rum sometimes gets a bad rep – people used to think it tasted kind of nasty, but that’s all changed now. It’s distilled in white oak barrels and then filtered so it’s clear, but unlike other types of rum, most of the time it isn’t aged. White rum has faint notes of vanilla and almond (or if you’re going the Malibu route, coconut). White rum proves that even the worst reputation can be salvaged.

Dark rum is usually aged in charred oak barrels and has more of a smoky, caramel-y taste to it. This a more full-bodied rum. A rum you can really get your taste buds around.

In your travels, you may have also heard of ‘spiced rum’ which is increasingly popular when paired with ginger beer. Back in the olden days (like super olden days, not just before 1980) rum was often spiced to mask its poor quality. Now it’s just a neat way to flavour rum – so much so that you can enjoy a spiced rum with just a bit of ice in a glass.

Where’s it from anyway?

Well, the story is kind of bleak. Rum was first discovered in Brazil, Barbados and Jamaica in the 1600s, which were centres of sugar cane production for European colonisers. During the process of harvesting sugar, farmers would crush the sugar cane, boil it and then leave the remaining syrup to set in clay pots. As a result, molasses was left behind and the farmers… dumped it into the ocean. Yeah, they weren’t that bright.

It was the slaves on these plantations who found a use for this molasses, mixing it with the cane juice skimmed off the clay pots and fermenting it into alcohol. The British navy enthusiastically embraced rum in the mid-1600s, probably because it’s delicious. The popularity of rum soon expanded beyond the Caribbean, and by the 1660s the British set up their own distillery in Boston.

Weirdly, in Australia, rum was the catalyst for the only successful armed takeover of the government. The ‘Rum Rebellion’ in 1808 saw a band of mutineers take over the office of William Bligh, the Governor of New South Wales, when Bligh attempted to ban the use of rum as currency to curb public drunkenness.

Yo ho ho!

What can you do with it?

Rum makes a great foundation for a cocktail, so much so that you only really need a few ingredients to whip them up. For a classic Dark and Stormy, all you need is dark rum, ginger beer, lime juice and a wedge of lime to garnish. If you’re looking for something with a refreshing zing, a Mojito only requires white rum, mint leaves, caster sugar, soda water and a bit of lime.

Want one more rum cocktail? Okay, fine. Try your hand at a Daiquiri, which is a mixture of white rum, simple syrup and lime juice. At least your guests will be drinking something tasty while they try to ignore your pirate voice.