Mixology 101: Rum

Updated: 31 Aug 2012

Rummage no more. Here’s one spirit that evokes the Caribbean, says Rachel Jena

Sweetest thing
Let sugarcane juice or molasses ferment long enough, and lo and behold, you’ve got yourself some rum. Well, unrefined moonshine actually. To get rum on the shelves, it needs to be fermented and distilled, and then left into oak barrels to age.

Of lightness and darkness
There are generally two grades of rum – light rum and dark rum. The latter is also called golden rum, and its darker hues are the result of unique ageing processes. Best taken neat or used in cooking, whilst its lighter counterparts (or silver rums) play a prominent role in cocktails due to their milder flavours.

What’s your name again?
Order ‘rum’ in Spain and the bartender will probably shoot you a quizzical look. Say ‘ron’ instead. In France, the word to use is ‘rhum’, and if you want to sound like an old pirate, call it Nelson’s blood, kill-devil, or demon water. With the accent of course, mateys.

Trading wives, good shampoo
Rum has some bizarre milestones. Eighteenth-century Englishmen were said to have periodically auctioned off their wives for rum. A century later, rum was purported to be great for cleaning hair. Today – thank heavens – it’s kept safely behind the bar, and used in popular cocktails like Daiquiris, Zombie and Mojitos.

Tags: Features