August 16th is National Rum Day in the United States. Sadly we don't have such a day in the UK, so we've decided to piggyback onto the Americans' day to celebrate years of enjoying Daiquiris, holidaying with Pina Coladas and the collective groan of bartenders worldwide when someone orders a round of 15 Mojitos.
In honour of a spirit drunk by pirates, slave-traders and of course the British Navy, we've compiled ten cocktails, without a doubt some of the finest invented with rum, to mark the occasion.
1. The Daiquiri
Surely the ultimate rum cocktail and a sure way to test a bartender's skills in balancing drinks. We prefer ours straight up and natural with fresh, fresh lime. For this you can follow our 10:3:2 formula or David Embury's 8:2:1 formula. Other styles include frozen or on the rocks.
2. El Presidente
A drink with several versions, we've always preferred 2:1 rum to dry vermouth and some grenadine. The original version uses pineapple juice as well. Others omit fruit for bitters or add Cointreau in two different variations, here and here.
3. Rum Old Fashioned
Created in 2009 by Goncalo de Sousa Monteiro in Berlin, this
contemporary classic cocktail takes on a new dimension with aged rum instead of whisky.
4. Hemingway Special
Created by Constantino (Constante) Ribalaigua Vert, the legendary head bartender of La Floridita, Havana, Cuba for Ernest Hemingway, after the great man wandered into the bar to use the toilet. When Hemingway tried the Floridita's standard frozen Daiquiri, he is quoted as saying, "That's good but I prefer it without sugar and with double rum" - so the Hemingway Special was born.
A true Hemingway Special should be served without the addition of sugar. However, Hemingway had a hardened palate and more delicate drinkers may prefer this recipe.
5. Rum Punch
The classic proportions of this drink are 'one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.'
An old navy drink using rum and lime, we like to make ours with muscovado sugar but some prefer to use honey while others seek to warm their cockles with a hot grog.
The Nacional is an apricot twist, named after the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, where it was created. A second version incorporates pineapple.
One of the best known drinks of our day, and when well-made one of the most refreshing, there are several versions of this recipe. The classic muddled then built is the best known. Our own version is shaken, then there is the Royal Mojito with champagne and host of flavoured versions including elderflower, orange, pineapple, apple and ginger.
9. Dark N' Stormy
The national drink of Bermuda, where ginger beer and Gosling's rum are produced, and often a source of litigation as one of only a handful of trademarked cocktails.
10. Brass Rail
A popular choice in America, this drink was invented by Tony Abou-Ganim and named after his cousin Helen's bar the Brass Rail in Port Huron.
The King of Rock 'n' Roll - or, simply, "The King" - Elvis Presley passed away on this day in 1977.
It was not what you'd call an elegant demise. The beautiful youth who had inspired millions and transformed a sterile, anodyne music scene died hugely overweight, drug addicted and bloated from a diet that included deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. He had fallen from his toilet onto the bathroom floor.
On autopsy, ten different prescription drugs were found in Elvis' system, all in epic quantities. Like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley's death sparked a career revival, and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., continues to churn out the profits even now. We would prefer to remember The King as, well, simply "The King", so we are enjoying a King's Jubilee.