Rum: The Summer Cocktail

When one thinks of summer cocktails, what comes to mind are the usual standbys: gin and tonic, or a a tom collins or, in you're down south, a mint julip. Or else you think of all those sticky-sweet frozen drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of them. When hot weather rears its head, our libations change accordingly. You want some thing cool and icy, and quick. If you're  like me, you don't want to mess with blenders and such. You want something fast and refreshing, something more substantive than the usual white wine.This is where rum comes in. It's the quintessential summer drunk. My forebears hail from the Caribbean where they have been battling hot summers with this elixir since time immemorial.

Now, in terms of rum, most people consider summery drinks as being daiquiris, mojitos or pina coladas. That's great if you want to spend time fussing and blending. But summer rum drinks can be as invariably simple as a rum highball with soda or orange juice. Below are given some tropical rum drinks that are very easy to prepare. So, for that next BBQ or pool side party, or even while hanging out on the fire escape on a hot night, try some of these out.

Be aware that rum, like fine wine or brandy, has different characteristics. Some connoisseurs prefer a dark aged anejo, some prefer rum that is sweet and heady with molasses-like flavor, and some prefer a light, dry variety. In general, rum comes in two types: white (or silver) and dark (or gold).  In terms of alcohol content, they usually come in 80 proof, and you can go up to 151 proof. The latter is not recommended for sipping. It is not a parlor drink. In my culture we use it to make coquito, a sort of high-powered egg nog that is definitely not a summer drink.

CUBA LIBRE:  Mix in a shaker with ice and and pour (unstrained) into a 10 ounce highball glass:  2 ounces white rum and juice of 1/2 lime. Fill glass with club soda or seltzer water.

HAVANA COCKTAIL:  Mix and shake well with ice: 2 ounces white rum, 1 ounce pineapple juice, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Strain into a cocktail glass. (Note: you can substitute, if desired, 1/4 ounce grenadine syrup in lieu of the sugar).
LIBERTY COCKTAIL: Mix and shake well with ice: 1 ounce dark rum, 2 ounces apple juice, and 1/4 ounce grenadine. Strain into a cocktail glass.
MADAGASCAR COCKTAIL:  Mix and shake well with ice: 1 ounce white rum, 2 ounce orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Top with grated or powdered nutmeg.
MINT CRUSH: Mull 8 fresh mint leaves (washed and wipe clean) and 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar in an old-fashioned glass (8 oz.) Add 3 ice cubes and 2 ounces dark rum. Fill with water and stir. Decorate with a mint sprig.
MONKEY WRENCH:  Pour 2 ounces white rum into a highball glass with ice. Fill with grapefruit juice and stir.
PINEAPPLE FIZZ: Shake well with ice and strain into a highball glass: 1 ounce white or dark rum, 2 tablespoons pineapple juice, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Fill with club soda or seltzer water.
RUM COBBLER: In a goblet or mug, dissolve 1 teaspoon powdered sugar in 2 ounces club soda. Fill with ice, add 2 ounces dark rum and stir. Serve with a straw.
RUM COLLINS: Pour 2 ounces white rum in a highball glass over ice. Add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir well and add club soda, a maraschino cherry, and a slice or orange. This can also be done with dark rum. In which case you add the juice of a lime instead of lemon.
RUM FIZZ:  Mix and shake well with ice: 1 1/2 ounce white rum, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 teaspoon powdered sugar. Pour (unstrained) into a highball glass and fill with club soda or seltzer.
RUM HIGHBALL: Into a highball glass filled with ice, pour 1 ounce white or dark rum. Fill with ginger ale, and add a slice of lemon or lime and stir.
RUM RICKEY: Squeeze juice of 1/2 lime into a 10 ounce glass. Add ice cubes and 2 ounces white rum. Fill with club soda or seltzer.
RUM SANGAREE: Mix and shake well: 2 ounces dark rum and 1 teaspoon powdered sugar. Pour into an 8 ounce glass with 3 ice cubes. Fill with club soda or seltzer and sprinkle some ground nutmeg on top.
RUM SOUR: Shake well with ice and strain into a 6 ounce whisky sour glass: 2 ounces dark rum, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar. Add a maraschino cherry and decorate with 1/2 orange slice. Or you can serve the drink on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass.
RUM SWIZZLE: Into a highball glass pour 2 ounces dark rum, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 teaspoon sugar and 3 sprigs fresh mint. Fill with ice, club soda, and then use a swizzle stick until it froths over.
TRINIDAD COCKTAIL: Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass: 2 ounces dark rum, juice of 1/2 lime, 2 dashes angostura bitters, and 1 ounce grenadine syrup. Serve with a twist of lemon peel.
TROPICAL COCKTAIL: (Created at New York's Essex House, I'm told) Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass: 1 ounce dark rum, juice of 1 lime, 2/3 teaspoon grenadine, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Garnish with pineapple slices.
WEST INDIAN SWIZZLE: Into a cocktail glass add 2 ice cubes, then pour 2 ounces dark rum (preferably West Indian rum), 1 lump sugar, 1 dash Angostura bitters, and 2 ounces club soda or seltzer. Swizzle with stick to froth.

There they are. Go out, experiment, explore, and have fun.






1 jigger light rum
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