Rum makes a fine hot drink, a fine cold drink, and is not so bad from the neck of a bottle…Fortune magazine 1933
I love rum. My taste for the sultry fluid started many years ago when I was a guest at the Villa De Sergie, a magnificent abode filled with uncommon treasures, down in Puerto Vallarta where Daiquiris were blended with deft hands to create a superbly delicate compound as a prelim liquid that would send us off into the evening. Rum, which is the pillar of Daiquiris goodness, is a dangerous agent which bows to the power of a contemptuous indifference to fate, sets the mind and body free of responsibility, obliterating memory of today and tomorrow, gives an adventurous feeling of superiority, vanquishes all fears and doubts, and in some cases allows the consumer to change his name, or at least add a new one. Could a liquid be any finer ?
My favorite rum concoction is not the Mai Tai, Planters Punch, the Zombie, the Kid Fizz or the Mojito – though it will be a cold day in hell when I deny myself the pleasure of throwing any of these down, though the sweetness of these tropical drinks reminds me of Donny and Marie concert. My favorite is the straight Anejo Barcardi rum and soda water with 3 limes. This cocktail has many names such as the La Fonda, the Oh How We Danced, and the Los Mismos. The later name came from Cuba in 1899 when the drink swept both Cubans and Americans off their feet at the fabulous Cosmopolitan club when one Cuban customer ordered a Bacardi and seltzer and his buddy said “Lo Mismo” which is to say “the same” in Spanish. The Americans, eager to try something novel, also ordered “Lo Mismo”, found it much to their liking and ordered round after round of Mismos and brought the drink
back to stateside. I personally discovered it while touring with the Great Diego Despues down south of the border looking for venues that could handle the raucous ways of The Nick Talent Full Throttle Wide Open Golf Tournament. Sipping our Mismos, over looking the pool of the Las Rocas Hotel which was filled with fun and danger, we both agreed that we had found our venue and found our drink. For the next twenty years we made history.
Grog, which is basically rum diluted by water with occasional citrus to prevent scurvy, is associated with the bad boys of the seas: Pirates. But in reality, Grog came well after the Happy Days of the likes of Capt. Morgan, Blackbeard, and other pirates. In 1740, the British Navy would issue a daily dram of grog as a moral booster to the swabs and it was unknown what was the strength of the concoction. The Sikes hydrometer, which measured alcohol content, was invented in 1816, but prior to that the alcohol content was determined by mixing the spirit with a few grains of gunpowder then subjecting the grog to the focused rays of the sun under a magnifier. If the gunpowder managed to ignite, but the liquid didn’t flare up, this was “proof” of its proper alcohol content. Even diluted, the grog ration was the equivalent to about five cocktails per day and by the 1950s only a third of the British sailors took advantage of their grog tot. As naval operations became more complex with computers and missile systems, the daily grog rations made less sense than when all the sailors had to do was haul around buckets of tar. Finally, on July 31, 1970, what is known in British naval circles as Black Tot Day, the final ration was given to the British sailors. With black arm bands, heavy hearts, and a 21 gun salute – the Grog rations were over after 325 years.
Now Rum comes in “Jolly Rancher” like flavors with the marketing pointed to the youth of America, which at best is a disturbing trend. One out of every 3 bottles of rum sold is one of those sickly sweet artificially flavored nightmares with “tropical” counterfeit flavors such as mango, pineapple, and banana which has as much in common with “tropical” as Glade air freshener does with an Alpine meadow.
Capt. Morgan rum is the number 2 rum in the world (Bacardi number 1) which accounts for one-third of the billion dollar rum market. It was introduced in the U.S. all the way back in 1949 by Seagrams and is now owned by Diageo which is the largest producer of liquior in the world. Other Diageo brands include the best selling vodka in the world Smirnoff, the two top Scotches Johnnie Walker and J&B , the leading stout Guinness, and the number 1 liqueur Baileys Irish Creme. The ten largest producers of booze in the world own 70% of all liquor brands and that concentration is sure to rise.
Let us remind ourselves that rum needs to be consumed if we want to advance as a society and I take this position as a volunteer to lead, drink, and travel the seven seas to spread its word. I am a tippler who among sailors, bridge builders, spreaders of all pleasant forms of lark, soldiers of good fortune, marauding beserkers, priests, and other disreputable sorts, promise to spread the groove of rum wherever needed. Like right now. Remember, if everyone follows the rules, in the end it will lead to chaos. So drink more rum, break more rules – otherwise chaos will reign. Groove.
Again I stole this material from a wonderful book called “And a Bottle of Rum” by Wayne Curtis which was given to me by my sister Goldie who I have known personally for 60 years. What a gal! (something our Dad would say)