Rum: a Great Way to Beat the Summer Heat

Rum: a Great Way to Beat the Summer Heat

By Tara A. Spearsrum 1 

In the hot, lazy days of August, it’s hard to get motivated to do anything but relax in the shade. While August 16th officially marks National Rum Day, rum is one of the most enjoyed spirits used for cocktails year round in the tropics. Whether you prefer thirst-quenching concoctions with cheerful garnishes or smooth, spicy elixirs, the long ago pirates had it right, there’s a rum recipe for everyone’s taste.

Ed Hamilton, known as the “Minister of Rum” is one of the world’s most well-known authorities on rum and sugar-cane spirits, shares a few  little known tidbits to commemorate the holiday:  

  1. Rum is the most diverse of all the distilled spirits, varying from a clear, light spirit to a heavy bodied spirit, which can be as dark as night. 
  2. Rum is made from sugar cane, but the distilled spirit contains no sugar and has the same calories by volume as vodka or whisky.
  3. Though often considered a renegade spirit, rum can only be made from sugar cane as the simplest raw material, yet it continues to be one of the least understood distilled spirits.
  4. At the time of the American Revolution (1700s) there were more than 150 rum distilleries in New England, USA, alone.  Rum grew out of the early 17th century sugar processing industries of the English-speaking colonies. The method of sugar production on the plantations produced leftover molasses, which some enterprising soul realized could be fermented into a kind of wine; then distilled into what was known as Kill Divil and eventually, rum.

Wayne Curtis, in his book,  “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails”, sums up rum’s easy-going character: “Rum embodies America’s laissez-faire attitude. It is whatever it wants to be.” There is no standard by which rum is defined: alcohol contents, naming standards and production processes vary from region to region. Basically, if it is made from molasses or sugarcane, it is rum. It ends up being a matter of personal choice which rum you like best.

Sugarcane is the main ingredient in making rum. First, the sugarcane is boiled down and the remaining residue is spun until crystallized. Then it is separated from its congealed form, known as molasses. The molasses is reboiled, mixed with water and yeast, then left to distill in aged oak casks. To produce darker rum caramel is added and it is aged for a minimum of three years (usually 5 to 7 years). Lighter rums are aged from one to four years.   

 Characteristics of various types of rum:

Light rum: clear colored with light, subtle taste with a hint of sweetness. Most-used in cocktails.

Gold rum: Dark coloring through aging in oak barrels. Medium bodied.

Dark rum: Aged longer. Stronger flavor, with hints of spices or nuts, caramel, coffee.

Spiced rum: Flavored with the addition of spices such as cinnamon and pepper. Darker in color. Besides the different categories of rum there are unique geographic variations:

Puerto Rican Rum is noted as golden rum, light bodies and aged for a minimum of 3 years.  

Virgin Islands Rum is usually dry, light bodied rum close to Puerto Rican rum.  

Demeraran Rum is from Guyana and is a dark rum, having medium body. This rum is very high in alcohol content (151 proof) and is used to make a cocktail called Zombie.  

Jamaican Rum is naturally fermented for about 3 weeks, meaning yeast from the air settles on the surface of the mash. The rum is then distilled twice in pot stills and aged in oak casks for a minimum of five years. The dark color of Jamaican Rum comes from added molasses not from the cask.

Martinique and Haitian rum are distilled from the juice of the sugarcane rather than from the molasses. The juice is concentrated, distilled and aged leaving a medium bodies spirit.

rum 2Batavia is unique aromatic rum made from Javanese red rice. Small rice cakes are made and put into molasses to ferment naturally. The distilled rum is then aged for 3 years in Java then shipped to Holland for further aging (up to 6 years).

Aguardiente de Cana is the name given to the most rum from South America. The most popular of them in the U.S. is Cachaca, from Brazil. Cachaca is the main ingredient of a Caiprinha, a delicious sour Brazilian cocktail.

Much like a good cognac or scotch, some rums are meant to be sipped –try a premium rum like Zacapa XO or Zaya Gran Reserva. Many of these dark rums make a great after-dinner drink. Whether you are a rum aficionado or are just looking for a refreshing summer cocktail that will transport you to the Caribbean, give one of these tasty concoctions a try.




The name Daiquiri derives its name from a beach near Santiago, Cuba. The original type,  that was a favorite Hemingway was known to enjoy at La Floridita, Havana, Cuba, is a straightforward drink with just a hint of sweetness under the limey tart. Pour two ounces of light rum, an ounce of lime juice and half an ounce of simple syrup into a shaker with ice; shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. However, in the last century, just about every type of fruit has been incorporated to the basic recipe, besides the invention of the blender creating the ‘frozen’ beverage being served with ice slush.

Strawberry Daiquiri Ingredients: – 2 oz light rum – 1 oz lime juice – 1/2 oz triple sec – 1/2 tsp superfine sugar – 1 cup ice – 5 strawberries Garnish: strawberry Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a stemmed glass and garnish with strawberry.

Cuba Libre (typically referred to as rum and coke)   rum and coke

Cuba Libre  originated after the Spanish-American War when an American group of soldiers first mixed Coca Cola, rum and a wedge of lime to toast to the freedom of Cuba.                           Ingredients: – 2 oz light rum – Coca Cola – Lime wedge Pour rum first into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with cola and garnish with lime wedge.

 MojitoMojito: Another of Hemingway’s favorites and invented at La Bodeguita, Havana, Cuba. Crush 5 mint sprigs into the bottom of a chilled highball. Pour in one ounce lime juice, ¾ ounce simple syrup, and two ounces of light rum. Fill glass with crushed ice and garnish with lime wedge mint sprig. Add a splash of club soda to taste.

Dark and stormy


Dark n Stormy

This cocktail, which has its roots in Bermuda, is simple mix of black rum, ginger beer and lime.

Pina Colada



Pina Colada: Ingredients: – 1 1/2 oz light rum – 4 oz pineapple juice – 2 oz coconut cream – 1 cup crushed ice Garnish: cherry and pineapple Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with fruits.




This cocktail was invented during the World War II at Pat O’Briens bar in New Orleans and was named after the shape of a hurricane lamp. Ingredients: – 2 oz light rum – 2 oz dark rum – 2 oz passion fruit juice – 1 oz orange juice – 1/2 oz fresh lime juice – 1 tbsp simple syrup – 1 tbsp grenadine – Garnish: orange slice and cherry Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a hurricane glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Mai tai: mytie

Polynesian style cocktail originated in southern California in 1930s tiki bar.  The Modern Mai Tai


– 1 oz. gold rum

-1 oz dark rum

– 1 oz triple sec

-1/2  oz lime juice

-1/2 oz orgeat syrup

Combine all the ingredient in a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over crushed ice. Serve garnished with lime slice or fresh pineapple and a straw.

zombie Zombie:

This cocktail does have the potential to turn you into a zombie -its smooth, fruity taste works to conceal its extremely high alcoholic content. It became famous at the 1939 NY World’s Fair.

 Combined all the ingredient in a shaker with ice and shake to chill. Strain into a glass over crushed ice. Serve garnished with a maraschino cherry, fresh pineapple and a mint sprig, and serve with a straw.

1 1/4 oz lemon juice

1 oz dark rum

3/4 oz orange juice

1/2 oz cherry brandy

1/2 oz light rum

1/2 oz high-proof dark rum

2 dashes grenadine

Since rum mixes so well with fruit and other spirits, it’s a natural choice for cooling off and relaxing during hot, steamy weather.  Salud!


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