Separating rum into rigid categories is a Sisyphean struggle within the spirits world. Climate, fermentation, age, raw materials, filtration, cask type, pot or column stills, blending, island/nation of origin—these are all factors that lead to incredible diversity, and just when you think you have a handle on a certain style, Lucy van Pelt goes and yanks the football away.
Speaking to this ongoing amorphousness, Ed Hamilton—an expert known to many as the minister of rum—contends that, while aging, “if you haven’t tasted a rum every 6 months, you haven’t really tasted it.” And we wouldn’t want to be late to get to know lightly aged blended rums, a variety that modestly speaks up with subtle tropicality and often supports a team of uplifting ingredients in sunny-dispositioned cocktails. Aged for an average of two to three years, lightly aged rum might be a blend of two or more separately aged distillates, from column or pot stills or a combination of the two. Then comes the decision of whether to not filter—to keep a tinge of heft and color—or to charcoal or carbon filter, for clarity and a more mellow profile.
Considering all the potential tweaks and winding paths of the process, if you suffer from wishy-washiness and decision paralysis, rum production might not be for you. Even for dedicated, discerning drinkers, it’s tough to confidently prejudge a bottle by its label, color, or country. But lucky for us there’s a less academic and immensely more pleasurable method of assessment—pour it and drink!
While many of us may be more than a sugarcane stalk’s length from the shore, Rum’s the Word that will give you island-time vibes and plenty of smoothness, sunshine, and sweaty cocktail glasses full of inventive and cooling concoctions. Subscribe now through May 9th to get this box—shipping the week of May 3rd for those who signed up in April or earlier, and the week of May 10th for those signing up in May.
Allow Marshall Altier and Jonathan Borin to take you back to Nicaragua with this re-release of their Hemingway en Nica. This update on the classic daiquiri amplifies the taste of bright, bitter, and balanced citrus, thanks to the naranja agria–grapefruit syrup. Known in English as the Seville orange, the naranja agria is a go-to ingredient in Latin American kitchens and also serves as one of the bases for flavoring triple sec and other orange liqueurs. A healthy dose of pimento bitters brings a deep, warming spice for a vibrant visit to the land of lakes and volcanoes.
Marshall is a 24-year hospitality operations veteran, brand builder, and published author. Hecollaborated on the creation of Bar Keep Organic Baked Apple Bitters and has conceived and helmed bar programs internationally for the Mandarin Oriental, the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, the Four Seasons, and MGM Resorts International.
Jonathan has been in the food and beverage industry in both San Francisco and New York City for more than 22 years, opening eateries and cocktail bars from corporate hotels—such as Ian Shrager Hotels and W Hotels—to independently owned restaurants such as Cafe Altro Paradiso, Ernesto’s NYC, Frenchette, Summit Bar, and Highlands NYC, to name a few.
Rum and the open ocean . . . a relationship that began aboard many a ship at the dawn of the spirit and continues today in festive fashion as a staple at idyllic waterside watering holes. Alex Velez’s Sea Fog honors this union in a direct but unexpected way—with a daylong infusion of nori. This new subtle foundation of rich, oceanic flavor is joined on its journey in the direction of Japan by lively ginger and yuzu, before a faint plume of smoke and tobacco bitters anchors this satisfying blend to the depths for a chill night of tasty sipping.
Alex got his start in the hospitality industry in Puerto Rico before moving to Chicago in 2005. He’s created bar concepts for multiple venues over the last 15 years and has new dining experiences in Las Vegas and San Francisco on the horizon.
The arborists among us will have a leg up in contextualizing this island-hopping cocktail from Dan Watson, which features a syrup made with mauby, the bark of a small tree used to flavor beverages throughout the West Indies. But everyone will delight upon the first taste of Don’t Tell Richard, a richly textured mix of cold brew coffee (made with coconut water!), rum, Angostura bitters, and mauby, which imparts a rootiness to a special syrup flavored further by ginger and cinnamon for an anything-but-pedestrian pick-me-up.
Dan has visited a dozen Caribbean distilleries and loves hearing himself talk about rum. If you’re sitting at his bar, he hopes you will love hearing him talk about rum as well—but if you don’t, at least humor his opinions on the 1997 World Series and the Great American Bash ’95.
Rum is many things to many people: a portable slice of island spirit, a considerable player in the distinguished canon of classics, or simply a nuanced nip to sip neat. Certainly Rum’s the Word for all of the above, but there’s always room for more. Sign up today for dazzling days in May and three fresh takes on this sun-ready spirit!
The Shaker & Spoon Team
*not vegan: honey-ginger syrup (contains honey)
*potential allergens: Banana chips and candied ginger cubes were originally packaged in the same facility as peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and milk products.