What surprises me so much about rum, is how little people know about it. They had too much of it once, mixed with cheap pineapple juice and swear it off. Or they once quaffed Mai Tais in a blissed out honeymoon fervor on beaches not marked on maps, and, now, the memory supersedes the experience, and why bother ordering another Mai Tai, it certainly won’t be as good.
I, too, as a 20-something, had written rum off as fuel for fires of yesteryears. And it wasn’t until I got a job to tide me till I wormed my way into a kitchen (which, incidentally, never happened) at Beretta that I realized my foolishness. I was lucky enough to have been there shortly after Thad Vogler had put together the bar, which meant plenty of rum. There was El Dorado 12 year and Neisson Blanc and Smith & Cross, among so many others. So many flavors and from different countries, yet all fell under the banner of rum. There were Daiquiris and Painkillers, but also El Presidentes and Ti’ Punches. For me, no other spirits was as versatile as rum. I fell for agricole rhums for their grassy citrus notes, Jamaican rums for their dark earthy flavors, and aged rums for the layers of complexity. I learned to make drinks for the wannabe vacationers and to pair with a meal. Rum really can satisfy the needs of even the most discerning drinker.
Now, I try to use my powers for good. Left to my own devices – bartender’s choice – I will choose rum, in the hopes that soon you will too.