It’s Not Just for Mai-Tais: savvy and sophisticated, rum transcends mixing
Dec 30, 2017 08:58PM
Rum aficionados Tom Bocchino, Kim McGonnell and Brian O’Neal at Doc Ford’s. Photo by Gina Birch.
Gallery: Cheers - January/February 2018 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
If you think rum is just for high-fructose cocktails, booze cruises and beach parties, think again. It’s a spirit that has many faces, and while it has a near-permanent place with the party people, it also has a seat at the table filled with people of discerning palates and refined taste.
“Because of the craftsmanship going into it and how some are made, connoisseurs love high-end rums to sip on,” O’Neal says.
That is indeed that case at Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille (Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Myers Beach), where there are nearly 20 premium selections on the list. Kim McGonnell, general manager of the Sanibel location, explains, “Someone comes in here who is used to a brandy or cognac to finish a meal, and instead, they are trying a snifter of nice rum. It’s fantastic.”
A quick and dirty rum guide:
- Rum is distilled from sugar cane or molasses
- The Caribbean is best known for rum production
- White rum is typically best when used with mixers
- Barrel aging gives rum warm mature flavors of vanilla, smoke and wood
Mount Gay is the first documented rum distillery (1703), but O’Neal says evidence of rum making has been found dating back to the 1600s. Made in Barbados, from molasses, Mount Gay is set apart from others in the world of rum because of the water used in its production. Coral limestone beneath the Caribbean island acts as a natural filter, producing pure, delicious spring water for distilling.
Mount Gay’s 1703 is full bodied and tastes like winter, with flavors of maple syrup, cinnamon, pepper, smoke, vanilla and bacon. You could drink this in a snifter while eating a steak.
These rums are quite special and at their best when served neat or on the rocks.
Store shelves are lined with premium rum selections, and it can be confusing when choosing one better suited for sipping than mixing—or one that can satisfy both. A great way to learn is through a tasting flight, where several small pours of different brands are lined up for sampling.
Since rum making flourishes in tropical climates, it makes sense that Florida has a few producers. Papa’s Pilar is a popular brand, made in Key West and inspired by Ernest Hemingway. It comes in blonde and dark varieties, and is suitable for sipping or mixing.
The natural sugar in rum lends itself well to mixers. On the flip side, this attribute makes it so easy to go over the top. The unpleasant “morning after” has tarnished rum’s reputation over the years, making it the spirit you want to take home but not marry.
Sailor Jerry Ginger Apple Winter Mix
- 1½ parts Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
- 2 parts sour mix
- 1 part apple juice
- 1 part ginger syrup
- Pinch of ground cinnamon