My favorite scene in the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie is when Johnny Depp’s pirate wakes up to Kiera Knightley’s character chucking all the barrels of rum into a gigantic beach bonfire meant to create a 1,000-feet high smoke signal that will lead to their rescue. “But why is the rum gone?” remains his mournful reaction. I understand your pain, Jack Sparrow! Rum is a magical libation that deserves to be celebrated and cherished, even if it means being stuck on a deserted island for the rest of one’s life. After highlighting cognac and Tennessee whiskey cocktails in my last two tastings, I was pleased to highlight a type of rum that is a little outside of people’s normal conceptions of rum: dark rum! 



Rum is an alcohol made from sugarcane, and while production began in the Far East, today’s most notable rum production region is the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, and Bermuda. Each of these countries create distinctive rums that vary based on their styles, flavors, and finishes. There are four main styles of rum: silver or white, gold, dark or black, and aged. (Spiced or flavored rums can be made from any of these styles of rum.) While aged rums, like our favorites Zacapa 23 and Appleton 21, are true sipping alcohols and should be enjoyed by themselves (like a fine scotch or brandy), silver, gold, and dark rums are excellent in mixed cocktails (gold and dark rums can also be sipped). 

As with tequila, a rum’s aging can be seen in the color of the liquid; as it gets darker, it indicates a longer aging time. Darker rums are made with molasses rather than pure sugarcane juice, are fermented for longer (usually in pot stills rather than column stills), and are aged for longer in new barrels (which allows more of the wood flavors to infuse the alcohol). A dark rum style is black in color and aged for several years in new oak barrels. These rums have a full body, with a rich, caramel-dominated taste profile. Dark rums, in particular, are great foundations for mixed drinks because they are over-proofed and, as such, really stand up to sodas, juices, and punch mixers. You’ll be able to taste the dark rum in a cocktail!  

For my cocktail tasting, I highlighted two different black rums because each was just perfect for one of my two cocktail recipes. You may have heard of (or had!) a Dark and Stormy, a classic dark rum cocktail with ginger beer and lime. I riffed on this classic to create my own recipe, a Dark and Stormy Daiquiri, which took out the carbonation but kept the ginger with an infused syrup, and complemented the lime juice with a splash of grapefruit juice as well (which really goes nicely with dark rum, as Difford’s Guide observes). For this drink, Jonah’s Curse Black Spiced Rum worked perfectly, with its rich and complex body; flavor notes of caramel, 12 traditional spices, and roasted tropical fruits; and a balanced finish where no one flavor dominates. (There’s a reason this rum won double gold in the San Francisco Spirits Competition!) For my other cocktail, an easy and pleasurable dessert Rum Cream, I chose the Gibbs Hill Black Rum, a traditional dark rum with a medium body, flavors of caramel, dried fruit, and oak, and a balanced finish. This rum went perfectly with the El Padrino Chocolate Tequila Cream—what a decadent end-of-the-evening sipper!



Here are my recipes for the Dark and Stormy Daiquiri and the Rum Cream! 


The Dark and Stormy Daiquiri


1.5 oz spiced black rum

¼ oz lime juice (more if fresh)

¼ oz grapefruit juice (more if fresh)

½ t ginger infused syrup (depending on your taste profile, you can reduce the ginger flavor by substituting some regular simple syrup)



Shake with ice, strain, and serve in a coupe glass with a citrus twist!


The Rum Cream


1 oz black rum

½ oz chocolate tequila cream (I love the El Padrino Chocolate Tequila Cream—a sipper by itself!—made from blue agave grown for up to 14 years and combined with authentic Mexican chocolate cream)



Shake with ice, strain, and serve! (Can either serve “up,” in a coupe or dessert glass, or over a large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass for a sipper.)