The First Timer's Guide to Rum Cocktails

The Caribbean has given us many great things: amazing music, delicious food… and of course rum. As the summer slowly approaches, and we can finally let loose and enjoy the outdoors with drinks in our hands and a smile on our faces, it's time to champion that last one – rum – in the spirit of sunshine, summer and good times.

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It's believed that rum was first developed as a sugar cane juice either in ancient China or India. However the first distillation of rum took place in the Caribbean back in the 17th century. Tradition notes Barbados as the true home of the spirit.

While getting drunk on gin supposedly makes you feel maudlin and feckless, getting rum drunk is the best kind of drunk. Think of those that have been associated with rum: British naval officers, pirates, Ernest Hemmingway… all jolly chaps right? Rum has sailed across the high seas and landed in every port, left a lasting impression and gathered an army of rum revelling groupies.

There are three main styles of rum: white rum, aged rum (also known as gold rum) and dark rum. All styles are suitable to make cocktails. Each Caribbean Island is famed for a different rum cocktail. Here are four delicious cocktails from four different islands.

Made in Cuba: Mojito  

The signature cocktail of Cuba helped to inspire one of the 20th century's famous writers. Ernest Hemmingway wrote about his days drinking mojitos at Havana's La Bodeguita del Medio bar. The recipe is still served there today. But if a trip to Cuba isn't in your budget, you can replicate Hemmingway's recipe at home:

6 fresh mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
3 shots white rum
Champagne or soda water
Sprig of fresh mint, for garnish

In a shaker, lightly muddle the mint. Add the brown sugar, lime juice and rum and fill with ice. Shake well and pour into a glass. Top with champagne and garnish with the sprig of fresh mint.

Made in Puerto Rico: Pina Colada

In the words of Rupert Holmes in the song 'Escape': “Yes I like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain....” Puerto Rico's national drink is one of the most famous Caribbean cocktails, replicated in bars around the world and even sold ready-made in supermarkets. Barrachina claims to be the birthplace of the Pina Colada. The proper Puerto Rican way to serve it is on the rocks.

3 shots fresh pineapple juice
1 shot cream of coconut
1 ¼ shot Rom del Barrilito rum

Blend together and garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.

Made in Jamaica: Planter's Rum Punch

Jamaica's version of the Caribbean punchy drink is more citrus-based with the inclusion of orange and pineapple juice. It's a great cocktail to serve at parties, and the vibrant orange liquid will compliment anybody who's watching the golden sunset on a Caribbean beach holiday. Courtesy of Couples Resorts, here is the recipe so you can make it yourself for a garden barbecue party:

1 shot Coruba dark rum
1 shot Appleton special
1 shot white rum
Dash of orange juice
Dash of pineapple juice
Splash of Bitters  
Splash grenadine

Mix all ingredients and serve in a tall glass. Serve with ice.

Made in Bermuda: Dark and Stormy

Fans of this concoction say the one and only way to make and drink this is by using original ingredients from Bermuda.

2 shots spiced rum
300ml ginger beer
Juice of ½ a lime

Fill a glass with ginger beer and add two shots of spiced rum. Squeeze half a lime over the top and wipe the lime around the rim of the glass. Serve with ice.

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