Rum is such a huge and diverse category of spirits that you could spend a lifetime studying it and still have a lot to learn. I can’t think of another style of spirit that offers such a range of styles, flavours and products, well apart from whisk(e)y maybe, and even then I think rum has it trumped. So as the sun has just started shining here in the UK, and spring is on its way, I thought I’d take a moment to look at this wonderful family of spirits and share nine things I think everybody should know about rum.
I hope the thoughts below will inspire you to explore the amazing world of rum a little bit, and maybe find the styles of rum that you can enjoy the most. Even if you don't think you like rum, you should definitely open your mind to the possibility that there might just be a rum out there that's perfect for you. For me this will be an excuse to dig into the b&t back bar and sip a few old favourites and remind myself why I love rum so much. It seems that every year, with the first burst of spring sunshine the rum section of the b&t drinking room starts calling out to me. In fact I may have to pause here to shake myself a daiquiri before I continue writing.
Right, that’s better! On with the blog and my thoughts on rum…
I’ve heard a few people say recently that they think the tiki craze is over, and I think I know what they mean. Tiki was heralded as the ‘next big thing’ much as tequila was before that, and while it has grown in popularity, and become more mainstream it has never really exploded in the way that was predicted. That’s not entirely surprising as it’s a niche style of drinking, but to say it’s dead seems a bit of an exaggeration to me.
Tiki, as I’ve written before, is a style of drinks inspired by Polynesia and tropical island culture and is predominantly based around rum, with plenty of exotic fruits, juices, syrups and liqueurs thrown in for good measure. It was originally popularised in the 1940s America when these enticing flavours from far-flung shores were a welcome bit of escapism after the gloom of WWII.
A few years ago there was a definite resurgence of interest in this style of drinking, with Tiki bars and nightclubs popping up on a regular basis. Of course many were quick to jump on the bandwagon to exclaim that Tiki would be the next big thing. Even if that promised explosion has somewhat failed to deliver, Tiki has still managed to establish a firm place within our global drinking culture. In almost every major city you will find at least one or two bars dedicated to tiki drinks, and on many cocktail menus you’ll find not only the classic Mai Tai or Zombie, but other modern tiki inspired cocktails. So to say that tiki is dead, to me at least, seems too strong a statement. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that tiki has found its place within modern cocktail culture, and has indeed added to it. Tiki isn’t dead, it’s alive and well, but in a limited way, and for that reason I say tiki is here to stay.