Spirits Around the World: Rum

Sweet and refreshing, rum will delight guests on and off the beach

While traditionally reserved for piña coladas on the beach, rum is making a comeback in everyday drinking. 

Taking its name from saccharum, the Latin word for sugar, rum is made from sugarcane byproducts, usually molasses or sugarcane juice, making it much sweeter than its alcoholic compatriots.

In maritime cultures, rum has served as the drink of choice for many a sailor, pirate and other island dwellers. Historically, rum has also been mixed with citrus juice to ward off scurvy on long voyages—not to mention that its alcohol content helped ease the monotony of the sea.

More recently, rum has found its place as the drink of choice for beachgoers, who leverage its unique sweetness in various chilled, refreshing cocktails—but many underestimate its versatility: Rum’s flavor lends well to mixers and is often served in warm beverages to tide people through the cold winter months, far away from the tropic locales the liquor is so often consumed in.

There are several different types of rum, though unlike whiskey or bourbon, there isn’t a set definition to each style. Here are the basics on some of the liquor’s most popular varieties:

  • White rum: Clearer and lighter-bodied, white rum is popular in cocktails that require a subtler rum flavor.
  • Gold rum: More complex than white rum, gold rum is amber in color and can taste of vanilla, almond, caramel or citrus, depending on the barrels it’s aged in. Mix it in a cocktail for a bold rum taste, or drink it on its own.
  • Dark rum: Aged in oak barrels, dark rum (often called black rum) is deeper in color and often considered the purest expression of molasses. 

How to Serve Rum

Want to include this sweet spirit in your meeting’s beverage experience? Try it four ways:

Beat the heat. Enhance summer meetings with refreshing, cool rum cocktails, such as a mojito or daiquiri.

Bring out your inner pirate. If you want to get traditional, serve bumbo, a favorite cocktail of pirates that’s spiced with sugar and nutmeg.

Keep it classy. Just because rum is associated with swashbucklers and wild beach parties doesn’t mean it can’t be understated and sophisticated. Use dark in a rum sour, served in a lowball glass with crushed ice.

Make it a dessert. Rum’s sweetness makes it the perfect ingredient for delicious desserts, such as rum cake.