August 16th is National Rum Day in the United States, but we like to think of today as International Rum Day - because, let's face it, there's never a bad 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.
One of those spirits that has come a long, long way from its original incarnation, rum appeared on the scene as a hooch sold as "rumbullion" or "kill-devil" around the sugar-growing colonies of the West Indies. So, 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 Daiquiri formula or David Embury's 8:2:1 Daiquiri formula. Other styles include Frozen Daiquiri and Daiquiri On-The-Rocks.
2. El Presidente
A drink with several versions, we've always preferred El Presidentes made 2:1 rum to dry vermouth and some grenadine. The original El Presidente uses pineapple juice as well. Others omit fruit for a Presidente with bitters or add triple sec in two different variations: El Presidente No. 3 and El Presidente No. 4.
3. Rum Old-Fashioned
Created in 2009 by Goncalo de Sousa Monteiro in Berlin, the
Rum Old-Fashioned is a contemporary riff on a classic cocktail that takes on a new dimension with aged rum replacing 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 Hemingway Special recipe.
5. Rum Punch
The classic proportions of a Rum Punch are "one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak."
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 muddled then built Mojito is the best known. Our own Difford's Mojito is shaken, then there's the Royal Mojito with champagne and host of flavoured versions including the Elderflower Mojito, Orange Mojito, Pineapple Mojito, Apple Mojito and Ginger Mojito.
9. Dark 'N' Stormy
10. Brass Rail
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.