Winter Rum: Spice is Nice

We all love the fantastic feats that rum pulls off in the summertime—what with the limes, lounge chairs, and little umbrella garnishes. But there’s another side to the spirit that sparkles outside the sunshine, when the playas make way for parkas. It’s complex, inviting, toasty . . . and that’s even without the added infusion of spices.

Flavored rum first emerged back in the days when it went by the name of “grog” and flowed as freely as the waves of the Caribbean Sea—and the thirst of the intruding Royal Navy sailors and their pirate counterparts was as unending as the ocean’s horizon. Since enjoying rum straight was depleting rations too quickly, grog’s story began. Additions to thin it out included water, citrus, honey, and, eventually, the harmonious complement of delicious cinnamon.

Despite the successes of those and many other amateur experiments over the centuries, spiced rum had nary a commercial presence until the 1980s, when a cartoon swashbuckler named Morgan sailed in and staked a claim on shelf space. Lately, though, several other reputable distillers have caught on to how nutmeg, mace, clove, ginger—or whatever else their secret blend may call for—has a way of highlighting and bringing out the best of the rich, caramelized flavors of rum. And due to the increased amount of those tasting notes to target and play off of in cocktails, bartenders can’t help getting in on the action too! 

Word has certainly spread, and it turns out that Spice is Nice, not only year-round but also particularly in the winter months. No matter how unwelcomingly frosty it may be outside your windows, we invite you to hunker down and sample three sensationally seasonal drinks that showcase a rum brimming with extra fragrance and flavor! Subscribe now through January 2nd to get yours—it’ll ship the week of January 6th.

This January, the apple of Dan Watson’s eye is his fruit- and spice-forward Pommes Bande, named after a mix of Caribbean tree bark called bois bande, infamously known for its aphrodisiac quality. Another nod to rum’s region of provenance here is the combination of pineapple, lime, and Angostura bitters, which brings some beachy vibes into what’s otherwise a wonderful wintry duo of spiced rum and allspice-cider syrup. There’s no telling the full range of surprises in store when enjoying this season-defying cocktail, but we can guarantee one enhancement in particular—a cozy atmosphere that gets more tropical by the sip.

Dan can be most commonly found exploring northeast Ohio’s many parks, enjoying the food scene in Cleveland with his wife, or watching baseball at his local bar with a cheap beer in hand. When he’s not busy expressing strong opinions about the proper way to craft a mojito (built) or a Jungle Bird (Jamaican rum), he’d be more than happy to shake up a daiquiri for you at Porco Lounge and Tiki Room.

It’s our great privilege to introduce Honeur Abricot, an old fashioned that complements the many tasting notes of spiced rum with the smooth freshness of apricot. Here Orlando McCray has chosen bright preserves to provide a layer of sweetness and, as a bonus, a rich texture to the drink—along with bitters that target and amplify the spiced rum’s dulcet flavors of vanilla and honey, while also introducing the subtle essences of pomegranate, tangerine, hickory, and more apricot! It makes for an experience the French might call le dualité (the duality)—a cocktail that’s easygoing and relaxing but with much complexity under the surface. 

Orlando is a Tacoma, Washington, native who’s been living and bartending in NYC for eight years. He’s currently developing the bar program at Nightmoves in Brooklyn and covers shifts at Amor y Amargo in Manhattan.

Wake up and smell this richly aromatic cocktail from Brad Smith. All the elements of a classic, full-bodied hot buttered rum are present in The Hoolio—in this case, a craveable combination of cinnamon, honey, butter, and spiced rum—and the tropical coconut cream brings an additional sense of summer’s warmth. Hot coffee provides the perfect base for this blend of ingredients—mix them and watch your cup of regular ol’ joe transform into something truly memorable!

When he’s not at home hanging out with his wife and dogs or exploring his adopted city of New Orleans, Brad leads the team at Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29 as general manager and head bartender.

We’ve got big plans for 2020, and it all begins with this pronouncement—Winter Rum: Spice is Nice is coming! Batten down the hatches, layer up, and get set to toast the year—and decade—ahead with inviting and invigorating cocktails!

🍎🍑☕,
The Shaker & Spoon Team

*not vegan: honey

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