Most of my island friends drink rum above all other spirits. (Except for Lyndsey).
Rum. Perhaps the most complex, yet under appreciated spirit in the world. The generational knowledge, sophisticated blending and historical significance just can’t seem to overcome the hubris of scotch, popularity of vodka or snobbish nature of brandy. Please allow me my moment of defense.
Yesterday was national Rum day. So why am I writing an article about rum today? Simple, I choose National Rum day to finish my smuggled bottle of Havana Club, Cuban Barrel Proof rum. How could I drink it the day before? I’ve coddled, and offered tastes of this bottle as often as Scrooge bought Christmas presents. Yesterday was my day to celebrate and enjoy the best rum I have (had) in my collection.
Why does rum have to play second team? Why do people snicker when I say that RUM is my favorite drink? What is it about rum that makes people treat it like a homeless person asking for change?
I have a theory that correlates to Christmas. What is the imagery associated with the holidays? Snow. Evergreen trees, scarfs, knit hats, toboggans and at the heart of it all, COLD. We are sold imagery based on what the Madison Avenue ad agencies sell to us. If you are not from New York/Boston/Chicago or Europe et al, you are not from the economic engine of this planet and therefore you, your country, your culture, and your RUM are all second rate. It’s the mañana culture come back to bite us.
Most of my island friends drink rum above all other spirits. (Except for Lyndsey). I love it when my Wall St. buddies look down on me for sipping a 12 year old Cock Spur when they have a Johnny Walker Red Label in their hand. Seriously?
Rum, just doesn’t get it’s just consideration by the masses. The same masses that flock to cruise ships, get sun burns redder than a Key West sunset, and swear they wish they could hit the lottery so they could live this way every day of the year. The oxymoron is perplexing to me. You love it, you don’t love it, you love it, you don’t love it. Maybe it’s just jealousy. Maybe rum reminds people of some of the greatest times of their lives while on vacation in the islands. Maybe the reality of their gray, cold, cubicle existence is too much to bear, so they avoid rum altogether. Okay, I’ll admit I’m getting a bit carried away but you get the vibe of where I’m coming from right?
Maybe I’m being too hard on the consumer and should shift my focus to bars. How are people supposed to know about good rum and it’s grand potential when the vast majority of bars, even good bars, do not carry much beyond Bacardi and Captain Morgan. Sure these two selections are the basis of many good drinks. But only serving these are just so damn limiting. It’s the same as never traveling beyond the limits of the town you were born in. There’s a huge world out there go sample it people.
Bars tend to like vodka – in all it’s 29 syrupy fruit flavors. You know you are in a forward thinking bar when they carry 10 syrupy fruit flavors of Cruzan Rum. My hat is off to the guys from St. Croix for at least fighting for shelf space.
Rum, in my not so humble opinion, belongs side by side on the same shelf as Scotch Whiskey. The craft of making these two spirits are comparable, the history is equally long, the economic importance cannot be understated and both have impacted the culture of the countries from where they are produced.
Next time you go to a (good) liquor store, slow down in the rum section and select something different, something new, something that looks interesting. Plan on paying a few extra dollars for it and drink it neat. Open your mind and your palate to this cultured spirit and please share it with your guests so they too can taste how good rum really is. For this effort I raise my glass in your honor. Cheers.
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