|THIS TROPICAL SPIRIT MAY BE FUELING GLOBAL WARMING (TO COCKTAILS)
Across America in 2010, there was a warming trend behind the bar. Tropical cocktails saw more sales than since their inception in the 1930s and ‘40s—once again morphing from an occasional Mai Tai on a menu to being the infrastructure of entire concepts.
In New York, tiki dens like Painkiller and Lani Kai opened to acclaim from The New York Times. Smuggler’s Cove fed the frenzy for tiki in San Francisco, and restaurants such as Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen in Laguna Beach stocked such an astounding selection of rums that guests could pick one label a day for a year and never worry about repeating.
Rum is indeed on the minds and lips of drinkers across America, and it’s in the hearts of bartenders in every type of venue, tiki-themed or not. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, rum is the second largest spirits category, with 24.9 million cases sold in 2010.
Mass Market Mavericks
Although the economy has been tough for all, “I think in general the rum category is re-entering the growth phase,” offers Toby Whitmoyer, Vice President of Bacardi Rums. “We’ve seen an increasing consumer interest in traditional rums as well as value brands. And the flavored lines are also doing very well.”
Cruzan Light Aged Rum
The Nelthropp family has been an integral part of St. Croix’s rich history since the 18th century, perfecting the art of balancing, blending and aging rums. The brand has a distinct five-column distillation process. Cruzan Light is aged a minimum of 14 months for a dry, clean taste with vanilla overtones, while Cruzan Dark is aged a minimum of two years, yielding a medium-body, rich color, texture and flavor.
St. Croix, 80 proof, $15.99,
Beam Global Spirits & Wine
Brugal 1888 Brugal 1888 is a blend of rums aged five to 14 years in medium-roasted American white oak casks and subsequently in European oak casks, previously used for aging sherry. The 1888 label is smooth and full-bodied with a notable finish of toffee caramel, wood and licorice.
Dominican Republic, 80 proof, $49.99,
Rémy Cointreau USA
Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum Made with molasses, water, grain and yeast, and distilled in a continuous still, the brand’s characteristic taste really is achieved through the final addition. A unique and proprietary recipe of exotic, indigenous island spices produce a rum that has pirated away the hearts of rum fans all over the world.
St. Croix, 70 proof, $14.99, Diageo
Part of what makes rum so appealing is the category’s sense of fun. A few brands take their campaigns a step further, targeting the passions and hobbies of specific demographics. Whether prompting patrons to get a tattoo or join a social network, these brands manage to stay relevant in a virtual sea of offerings.
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Bermuda’s largest export, this iconic brand is also famous for being the signature ingredient in the trademarked Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail. Malcolm Gosling, a seventh-generation rum maker at the company, spearheaded the campaign to recreate Bermuda’s national cocktail perfectly in American bars. It’s put this extremely smooth, intensely flavored rum in the hands of bartenders across the country.
Bermuda, 80 proof, $20,
Castle Brands, Inc.
Hand-Crafted Cocktails & Slow Sippers
“In 2006, if you asked an average consumer to name rums, it was always Bacardi, Captain Morgan and maybe Mount Gay,” offers Ben Jones, North American Managing Director for Rhum J.M and Rhum Clément. “Now, with the increasing availability of rums and rhum agricoles, consumers are learning about how rums are made and how they are crafted.” This increased interest is due to higher availability, but also the craft cocktail movement and the repositioning by the brands. Aged, spiced and agricole rums are finding traction similar to high-end scotches and fine cognacs in both cocktails and neat pours.
Pyrat XO Reserve Ultra-premium
Pyrat is a complex yet mellow blend of carefully selected aged rums sourced from throughout the Caribbean. Characterized by its rich amber color and oak wood aroma, the taste is a complex blend of oak wood, vanilla, orange and light cane sugar.
Caribbean, 80 proof,
$24.99, Patrón Spirits
Flor de Caña 12 Year Centenario
Matured in American white oak, Flor de Caña Rums from Nicaragua are slow-aged, guaranteeing they are 100-percent naturally aged without additives or artificial accelerants. This label is stately and semi-sweet, with hints of nougat, almond butter and molasses.
Nicaragua, 80 proof, $32.99,
New And Noteworthy
Rum is an ever-evolving category. These brands are fresh to the market or coming soon to a distributor near you.
BlackBeard Spiced Rum
Launched a few months ago and now in national distribution, this rum is not your typical spiced rum; rather, it’s an aged rum with a profile of secret citruses and wonderful baking-spice aromas (nutmeg) with a delightful vanilla finish.
Puerto Rico, 86 proof, $14.99, Destilería Serrallés, Inc
Launched this spring, Cruzan Strawberry is crafted with fine Cruzan rum, all-natural flavors and cane sugar. Combining the taste of ripe strawberries with a touch of ginger, Cruzan Strawberry is available nationwide.
St. Croix, 42 proof, $15.99, Cruzan International
In 2011, consumers logged on and texted in to choose Cranberry-Cherry as the next flavor to join the growing family of popular Malibu rums. It combines the flavors of juicy ripe cherries and tart cranberries.
Barbados, 42 proof, $14, Pernod Ricard USA