So another week on, and another offer from the drink shop.
They currently have offers on all of their rums! Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good rum. Seriously, I love rum; So this offer is like catnip to me.
Whether you love a ‘Blanco’ white rum in your Mojito, or an Anejo dark rum in your Cuban – there’s bound to be a rum you love on this list. Not to mention you might find a rum you’ve never tried before!!!
So why not check out the offers, grab a bargain or two and chill this Easter! I know I will be!
The origin of that great tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai, is murky water at best. To fully understand the where, when, who, why and how of the matter you have to go all the way back to the 1930’s!
As it stands the where and when of the original Mai Tai is pretty much set in stone; it’s the ‘who’ that’s the biggest query…
So let’s state for a fact: The Mai Tai was created in California back in the early 1900’s and was created by one of two cocktail legends: Victor ‘Trader Vic’ Bergeron or Ernest ‘Don the Beachcomber’ Gantt.
I won’t regale you with their two highly intriguing stories, at least no more than to say that Trader Vic’s story is the more plausible (and also sounds more naturally true). That said, if you want to read Vic’s or Don’s Mai Tai origin stories then click here…
Arguably the most important factor in deciding who got the plaudits for the creation of the Mai Tai is that there are Trader Vic restaurants/bars across the world, and yet the same cannot be said for don the beachcomber establishments…
That result for them both has led to Trader Vic’s being the go to establishment for truly authentic tiki themed bars/restaurants and, by way of necessity; they also stock one of the wealthiest collection of tiki cocktails (Click here for a link to the cocktail menu of Trader Vic’s London branch)…
So why are tiki cocktails a thing? Well when they first came about they accompanied some fantastic food recipes that were Polynesian inspired and boasted some bold and wonderful flavours. Now both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic translated the flavour combinations of their food into their drinks. This led to some stunning, and some strong, tiki cocktails entering the world of mixology and becoming synonymous with both American and tropical culture since…
A brief history in a timely fashion (yes this will be quick)
The tiki cocktail started with the opening of the very first ‘tiki’ restaurant back in 1934. Regardless of who invented the Mai Tai, it is clear to see that Don Beach was the first person to start mixing fresh syrups, juices and rum. This practice is what makes cocktail a true tiki cocktail and was carried out by both Vic and beach throughout the renaissance of the tiki cocktail, leading to some of the great cocktails we now see plastered across almost every menu in every bar we ever go to!
Of course huge events like the world wars and American prohibition all had extremely potent effects on the course of the tiki cocktail, whether they precede the tiki era or simply occurred during their height. Inevitably the novelty of tiki cocktails and their almost teleportation-like effects wore off and they fell out of fashion during the 1960’s – mainly due to the Vietnam war and an increased sensitivity to indigenous peoples and; the former taking away the ideals of living out your days on a beach paradise pretty much nailed the coffin of the tiki culture firmly shut.
Fear Not! Like a phoenix from the ashes the tiki cocktail is back in full force (hurrah). The best thing about reboots is the ability to do something right. Mostly.
Tiki cocktails are certainly on a rise, and this is probably buoyed on by the astonishing firework of a rise that rum is currently experiencing. Although, as I have mentioned briefly in my earlier posts tiki cocktails of the present day are experimenting with other spirits…
This current trend of craft cocktails taking on the tiki cocktails and introducing new and exciting directions, shows how far the cocktails of the tiki theme have come since their rather humble beginnings…
So from their creation stemming from the blood of the first Mai Tai, tiki cocktails evolved to include some rather stunning concoctions. Granted there are some that may not give you the best of evenings but if we’re honest with ourselves, drinking absinthe in copious amounts is never a decent decision…
Look out for some of the best recipes from across the internet, from Classic Mai Tai’s to odd little Tequila-drenched Pina coladas, there is bound to be one cocktail for all tastes…
As a final note: This week will signal the end of my Tiki-Themed month and over the following couple of months I’ll be looking at something a little different. Keep an eye out near the end of the week for some (possibly) exciting news!
And here, finally, we have our 4th section of rum: Spiced. This is arguably the most important section of this list as the ‘spice’ in these rums can be what gives a tiki cocktail its kick!
There are a couple of rums on here you might need to scour online shops for, but for the most part the rums in this list are readily available in your local supermarket/off licence!
Kraken Spiced Dark Rum (USA) £21.95 – The Whisky Exchange
This 40% black spiced rum is somewhat of a genius. Its quality is unmistakable, earmarking it for greatness in the eyes of rum-tasters. But what really sets it apart from every other bottle of rum on the supermarket shelf is its old-style bottle shape. The traditional handle-necked bottle invokes visions of pirates and the romance often associated with the idea of a free life at sea.
Whilst the bottle makes it stand out, it does so knowing full well that the gloriously thick, molasses based alcohol contained within can more than hold its own; one of the only spiced black rums at home being sipped neat as it is swirling around a glass full of lime and cola. This is a perfect topper in a tiki cocktail too! Especially when you do not want to set the house on fire, but still want some theatre to your drink!
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Made in the USA from Caribbean rum and named after the mythical giant squid-like beast, Kraken rum is fantastic; a black spiced rum that is extremely reasonably priced! What’s more, for a limited time only, the whisky exchange is selling a special pack that includes an awesome looking mason-style glass! Perfect for Kraken’ your bottle open when you get in! Excuse the pun – Sorry, not sorry.
Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum (Jamaica) £17-20 Sainsbury’s
One of the favourites of my best mate at university, this rum truly has stood the test of time. In the past 10 years I’ve seen it go from strength to strength and literally fly of the shelves!
Perfect for combining with a mixer for a quick drink, this rum is often overlooked in its ability to fill out a cocktail or two. Regardless of your feelings towards it, Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum is a fantastic addition to any ones tiki-cabinet. Try substituting it into your next Mai Tai, it won’t taste like a classic mai tai, but it will be something a little special I’ll tell you that for nothing!
Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum (Guyana) £20 – Tesco
Another original spiced rum, Sailor Jerry’s fits into the ‘classic’ tiki choice section as it comes under one of the mandates set out in my first tiki cocktail post: It’s from Guyana!
Although Sailor Jerry’s has changed its recipe several times, and some consider Kraken to be more akin to the recipe everyone loved, this rum is still something very, very special. If you’re not a fan of Captain Morgans, for whatever reason – I’m not one to judge – then you should definitely be setting your sights on this classic tiki-suited spiced rum…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Ever tried a spiced mojito? Well you’re missing out! Try this recipe out the next time you have a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s knocking about…
This is the second Bacardi rum to make it into one of my top 5 lists, and it is by far the best of the bunch! I tried this a year or two back and it certainly did not disappoint! Combining a rich hearty gold rum with the heart of charred oak barrels this rum is smooth, spiced and even has a tang of smokiness about it! Wonderful in a Cuba Libre or ‘your own tweak’ on a dark n stormy ‘like’ cocktail this rum is best mixed with other ingredients for sure, but make use of it when creating your tiki masterpieces and you shall never be disappointed!
Fervent Shaker insider tip: If I’m honest, of the two Bacardi rums on my lists this should be the one you buy (if you have to choose)… Sweet, Smooth, Spicy, Smokey and damn good; this rum is perfect in a spiced Pina colada and even better in a rum-toddy…
Admiral Vernons Old J Tiki Fire Spiced Rum (England) £30-36 The Drink Shop / The Whisky Exchange
Ok, so here’s another ‘danger’ warning. This rum, at 75.5%, is by far the strongest of all the rums included in any of the previous lists! Thus it should be treated with the upmost respect.
So with the warning let me share some info about this fine, high-proof, rum:
This rum was the brain child of Admiral Edward Vernon. He enforced a strength reduction on the rum the British Navy gave to its sailors (back in 1740). After hearing the complaints of his men however, ‘Old Grog Vernon’ suggested the addition of lime & sugar to help the flavour and make the drink more enjoyable.
This Old J rum was created in honour of ‘Old Grog’ himself and whilst the strength of the rum has been readdressed, it was increased back to 151-proof [75.5%], it has kept the same balance of spices, lime and sugar that made the original rum a great hit.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Although this rum is perfect for tiki cocktails (it has tiki in its name after all) it is a 151-proof rum and therefore highly flammable! Whilst it gets a little old for me to keep warning you, you seriously need to be careful when handling such high-strength rum. It may taste great, used properly, but when you mess around; things can and will go wrong!
So here we are, the second to last post, and it’s all about the rich and powerful: Dark Rum…
Now we move onto the Dark rum and here is where it gets a little special, some of these rums are aged for nearly a decade and most come with a pretty special little story or two… From the Highly prized Goslings Black seal to the highly flammable overproof Plantation Rum here is my top 5 Tiki Dark Rums:
Goslings Black Seal (Bermuda) £21.15 – The Whisky Exchange
This brand of rum is one of the best dark rums on the market; its rich, well-balanced flavours make it an ideal choice for tiki cocktails and enjoying with your favourite mixer.
Interestingly the Dark N Stormy cocktail (at least in the USA, Caribbean, UK & most of Western Europe) can only be made with Goslings Black Seal Rum! This is the result of a trademark Goslings started filing back in the 1970’s.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Goslings were the first alcohol company to put in for, and get, a trademark for a cocktail. The trademark covers the use of the name ‘Dark N Stormy’ and regardless of the amount of lime or ginger beer used; the rum has to be Goslings Black Seal!
Bacardi Black (Cuba/Puerto Rico) £18-£20 – Sainsbury’s
Made in the Cuban style, but exiled to Puerto Rico; Bacardi Carta Negra (Black Rum) is a rich full-bodied dark rum that can hold its own against some of the best. Whilst the price would indicate its relative ‘cheapness’ when compared to some other brands, this rum is intended for the general use of mixing. Whilst it can be sipped, it’s best served in long drinks with cola or juice.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: I don’t like this rum neat. But I do love it in a Cuba Libre. Its dark-nature shines through in the rich taste and you don’t lose it when it’s mixed with Cola. Definitely worth the punt if you can’t afford the top end dark rums…
Plantation Overproof Dark Rum (73%) (Barbados) £35.65 – The Whisky Exchange
Like the honourable mention of Wray & Nephews white overproof rum in my first post, this dark rum is also overproof. If you’ve ever made, or had made for you, a cocktail called a ‘Zombie’ (made famous by the Don himself) then you’ll know that there is a requirement for overproof rum and for it to sit on the top of this drink. Its primary function is to burn and add a deep charred, burnt alcohol flavour to the drink. A worthwhile addition to any bar, home or public house; this rum is an excellent rum and perfect for advanced mixologists/bartenders…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: As with all alcohol one should be always be careful. However seeing as this alcohol is overproof (it’s 73% abv) it’s extremely flammable and should not, in any way, be underestimated or used lightly!
Ron Abuelo 12YO (Panama) £31.80 – The Drink Shop
Made from their home-grown sugar cane plantation, Abuelo 12 year old Anejo rum is soft, complex and character-full and can challenge even the most sophisticated of palates. Now some aficionados might argue that to mix rum of this quality would be heresy, I for one like my cocktails full of class. And this rum provides some serious weight in that category…
Clarkes Court – Special Dark Rum (Grenada) £27-30 The Drink Shop / The Whisky Exchange
Winner of 9 bronze/silver awards from 2002-2009 (as well as various gold medals) Clarkes Court Special Dark Rum is a 40% abv rum from the shores of Grenada. This dark rum is aged in ex-bourbon casks and is perfect for cocktails as it is considered to be a gentler style of rum; those preferring softer rum have a love for this particular bottle.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This particular rum is perfect for adding a little tweak to your tiki cocktails. Being of the softer variety of rums, this bottle will supply you with an easy to mix rum and help you develop your prowess, in regards to tiki cocktails at least…
So there you have it, my 5 top dark rums to use for you tiki cocktails. If you ever get a chance to nab a bottle or two off that list then I suggest you go ahead and give them a go! Just be extremely wary of the Plantation overproof 73%!!!
Is there a Dark rum you prefer that didn’t make my list? Why not leave a comment below with your choice? Although please understand that tomorrow I’ll be looking at spiced rums as the 4 section and therefore any ‘spiced’ dark rums will possibly be on that list!