It’s true. Rum is the most romantic spirit in my apartment. It’s not just the sweetness from the sugarcane that makes it so special—it’s the time and the love that goes into making each batch.
Stepping foot in a sugarcane field is difficult enough. The cane has leaves that are as sharp as blades, and there are tons of bugs and rodents living in the fields. In the past, one solution was to set the fields on fire to clear out all of these unwanted creatures before harvest. This is one reason why slavery existed—the only way to get people to step in these fields was by forcing them to. So, that’s not very romantic… but my point is that the first step to making rum is a labor of love.
Once the juice is filtered out of the sugar cane, it is purified and heated to crystalize the sugar. Left behind is molasses, which is what is fermented with water and yeast, and then distilled to make rum.
The rum I enjoy the most is aged in barrels, and this gives the rum the same smoothness and complexity that an aged whiskey has. A brand I work on, Appleton Estate, is made in Jamaica. In the warm Caribbean climate, the wood of the barrel expands and softens in the heat, so what could take 15 years in Scotland may be accomplished in 5 years in Jamaica. This is why aged Caribbean rum is extremely rich, but also mellow, sweet, and smooth.
I tend to enjoy cocktails that are slightly sweet, tart, and bitter. The following cocktail has all of those qualities—it has everything you desire...
2 oz. Appleton 12YO
½ oz. Campari
½ oz. Lemon Juice
¾ oz. Simple Syrup
4 drops Grapefruit Bitters
Mint Sprig garnish
Pour all ingredients in a mixing glass, fill glass with ice, and then stir for several seconds. Strain into rocks glass over one large ice cube and garnish with mint sprig.