I am cursed with What’s In the Box Syndrome. When I’m faced with something familiar, even something I like, versus some unknown, my curiosity gets the best of me. I end up going with the novel, and usually am let down. My only excuse is, what if I passed up a rare opportunity? Of course, the likelihood of a random dusty bottle on a back bar being the gods’ golden nectar is slim to none.
Which is what made grabbing a bottle of Sugar Daddy Light Rum off the shelf at Sonoma Market all that more ludicrous. You see, I was tasked with bringing a cocktail to a camping trip among friends. BBQ, dessert and beer were all taken care of. So, I had only one responsibility and I best fulfill it. Wire racks with a surprisingly decent selection all lined up uniformly, not really a bad rum in the bunch.
I mentally mixed a few cocktails in my head. This was during the Great Lime Crisis of 2014 (never will forget the day where limes were $125 a case) so Dark and Stormys were out, so were Daiquiris and Mojitos. Being limited to a picnic table and what was possible with just a knife and ice, I decided on rum and tonics. The light rums I’d put in a Mojito would lose in a fight to the tonic, and the rums I would use in a Dark and Stormy would create a syrupy drink. But what of this rum I had never seen elsewhere, claiming to be from Jamaica in origin but barreled somewhere around Sonoma in Chardonnay puncheons?
I hope I’m not the only one staring transfixed at bottles of booze at the store. My girlfriend implored me to hurry along; the anxiety was getting to me. And that is the story of how we ended up alone in the woods with a bottle of Sugar Daddy Light Rum. All nerves were eased upon opening of the bottle. We raised a glass and the bottle barely survived the trip.
Sugar Daddy, produced by Prohibition Spirits, who also are responsible for Hooker's House Bourbon, is aged in puncheons, a barrel more than twice as big as a common wine barrel. Thus, the oak flavors aren’t too extreme in the rum though vanilla and oak are still present. The nose does still contain a hint of woodiness but it’s more like tobacco than oak. Also, the Jamaican rum is obvious and I pick up strawberries, much like I do from Smith & Cross rum. A touch of sweetness wafts out, akin to salted caramel. Doesn’t smell strongly of alcohol, though at 80 proof, that’s not surprising.
Initially, the flavor is strong on honey sweetness with a floral note converging in honeysuckle, but the sweetness is mostly up front. This gives way to a strong banana flavor, almost bananas foster, and there’s that vanilla. But vanilla isn’t the only spice and I’m surprised to detect rooibos. Finally, the acidity hits, cleaning out the richer notes with a lemon meringue flavor while the bananas ride along. All in all, a short climb up and then a dip, but a smooth ride.
And this is why I keep trying new things against my better judgment, because every once in a while you luck out.
Once I returned home, I was quick to find other ways to enjoy the rum. This was a no-brainer, with lemon and strawberry amplifying what is already present.
1.5oz Sugar Daddy Light Rum
.5oz lemon juice
1oz Skylite Snowballs Strawberry Syrup
Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a mint leaf.