The word rum might conjure images of the Caribbean, a beach and possibly an ice cold punch, but like the spirit itself, its story of the spirit is far more layered and complex than this.
Distilled from molasses or sugarcane juice, there are records of the latter dating back as far as 800BC, and sugar cane is indigenous to the Pacific Islands of Melanesia. Transported to the Caribbean and surrounding Americas by Spanish, and then English colonisers in the late 1400s and early 1500s, the long, tumultuous history of sugar production brings with it the same for rum, as well as some myths embraced by marketers.
Over time, distillers developed a range of styles, such as rhum agricole — made from sugarcane juice opposed to molasses; various maturations and aging processes; and even entirely new flavour profiles, using recycled bourbon barrels for aging or creating liqueurs with added flavours like spice or coconut. This variety in rum production exemplifies its endless possibilities, and London bars embrace these possibilities with their drinks. Rum is equally fun as it is sophisticated, and as complex as it is accessible.
The most enjoyable way to drink rum (according to some rum connoisseurs) is by itself, to taste all of the notes, textures and flavours from the wood used for maturation, or from other botanicals added through its distillation process.
This can be a joy, but if not ready to go neat, try adding a little coconut water and ice, or try rhum agricole over freshly pressed sugar cane juice with a squeeze of lime, as they do in the French Caribbean. This classic mix is the national drink of Martinique, called T’punch, an evolution of the kreyol term “petit punch,” meaning small punch. Or, consider the myriad rum cocktails, whether maximalist drinks with several ingredients or the newer turn towards using rum as the base spirit in classic cocktails that otherwise use gin, vodka, or whisky. London’s bars do it all.Read More