How I became a rum enthusiast

posted by Jeff | Saturday, May 14, 2022, 5:50 PM | comments: 0

I have a weird relationship with alcohol. In my teen and early college years, I avoided it because of the history of alcoholism and addiction in my family. Like, I militantly avoided it in college at first. In the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I had an opportunity to enjoy it safely, and I was fairly amused at the sensation I had after two beers. When I was legal during my senior year, of course I went to the bar every other weekend, and when I say "the bar," I mean there was only one near the campus. After graduating, mostly I would have a few with friends at home, and sometimes at the wing joint when I met up with friends. The Molson brand Canadian was my go-to, Corona was my backup.

In those early years, I didn't differentiate between "drinking" and "drunk," and given that beer was never really what I would describe as "good," it did seem like you might as well get drunk. I always saw a million bottles behind the bar, but never thought much about what you could make with them. But for my 30th birthday party I made my first mixed drink, in a 30-liter athletic cooler, a classic mai tai that I first had on my first honeymoon a few years prior. I found this rum drink to be delicious.

By the time I got remarried, I rarely drank anything, but hilariously found it convenient to have a box of Franzia in the fridge. I didn't know any better, until my brother- and sister-in-law set me straight. Beer seemed to also disagree with me and aggravate my IBS. Strongbow, the original version of English cider without the tons of extra sugar, started to show up here, and I really started to enjoy it. Then we started cruising, where fruity rum drinks were standard, and we did a mixology class and rum tasting, and everything changed.

I discovered that there were many drinks I enjoyed with white rum, dark rum and spiced rum, usually the common varieties of Bacardi or Captain Morgan. I also learned about sipping rum and the rum old fashioned. Kahlua and Bailey's are a little heavy, but also go well with a lot of things (and each other). Even Malibu, which I had long laughed off as cheap and crappy, was delicious when it was mixed with the right things. I was all about the rum. I think I had avoided liquor in the larger sense for a long time because I associated it primarily with vodka, which I totally don't like.

By the time the pandemic started, the cabinet under our butler pantry sink was full of bottles. In addition to the stuff above, there were the usual bottles of Jack, various liqueurs, the excellent Casamigos tequila, Solerno (which is better than Cointreau) and Pimm's, which Diana introduced me to while in the UK section of Epcot. Indeed, I had built quite a collection of bottles! We do have a bottle of Citron Absolut, because Diana likes the lemon drop martini, and the other stuff I do have sometimes, but I'm mostly about the rum.

We had a little weekend getaway down in Sanibel a few weeks ago, where we got married, and found this amazing tiki bar called Bimini Bait Shack. They had a ton of classic rum drinks on their menu, and most of them were made with a rum called Wicked Dolphin. Diana looked it up on her phone and found that it was distilled in nearby Cape Coral, so we went for a tour and tasting. Left with 12 bottles. After blowing through the vanilla bean variety, which is impossibly good, I ordered more along with a few bottles of the mango flavor. They also make varieties that are better analogs of the above flavors, so I still have a bottle of white, coconut, coffee, aged and likely something else I'm forgetting. It's really great stuff.

Every weekend, I make a drink or two, and enjoy it in the spring Florida breezes. I like rum.


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