Written by: Petr Tůma
Rum, in Spanish, "ron".
For centuries it was the rugged drink of adventurers, pirates,
and outlaws that had very little to do with the fine bouquet and
pedigree of today's Caribbean distillates.
A sip of this liquor, made from fermented sugar cane juice, could
close up your throat, so it was imbibed almost exclusively with
lemon, sugar, and cinnamon. Rum was used to prepare grog. Then
along came pioneers like Don Facundo Bacardi, who tried to civilize
this poor man's drink using targeted experiments and their knowledge
of wine production. Wherever they were in the Caribbean, they came
to a common understanding. If the rum is filtered through charcoal
its impurities and some of its unpleasantness, that "rummy" aftertaste,
are removed, and it also loses its color. And then, if it's aged
in charred oak barrels, its bouquet becomes rounder with time.
Thus was born a crystal-clear, white spirit that was surprisingly
light and pleasant tasting.
But its greatest fame and long-term nearly exclusive association
with Cuba have yet to come. Although in the mid-1800s this largest
Caribbean island hosted the development of the art of bartending,
which brought to perfection cocktails like the "Mojito" -
originally called "Draque", "Cuba Libre", and
frozen "Daiquiris", rum enjoyed its greatest boom thanks
to the American prohibition, which didn't cover the island. Cocktails
flowed in streams, and famous personalities of the day, like Marlene
Dietrich, Gary Cooper, and Ernest Hemingway had to take care not
to drown in their hangovers. After Castro's arrival and the expropriation
of family distilleries, famous rum brands associated with other
islands appeared - Bacardi, now made in Puerto Rico, Cruzan Rum
from the US Virgin Islands, Metusalem from the Dominican Republic,
or Captain Morgan or Myer's Rum from Jamaica.
Today mixed drinks are making a comeback, so it's no wonder that
there are many "guaranteed" original sugar cane rums
on the market, including secondary spirits that are made by adding
extracts to potato alcohol and that fortunately can no longer be
The most refined Caribbean rums are eight years old or more and
are imbibed straight, on the rocks. You'll recognize them by their
golden-brown color and more for their well balanced flavor and
aroma, thanks to which they are closer to cognacs and whiskies
than spirits. But even the "crudest" rums for cocktails
must age at least two years in barrels in which bourbon or sherry
have been aged. That's also where they get their color like golden
sun beams and the inimitable flavor of the Caribbean.
The author is the deputy
editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine.
Photo: Věroslav Sixt
Cuba at home! The Caipirinha Muddler by Ad Hoc will help
you make the perfect Cuban cocktail every time. The nylon
and stainless steel components are also dishwasher safe,
for easy clean-up. CZK 390
Available at: Naoko, Revoluční
24, Praha 1
Did you know that the word "cocktail" is
a truncated form of "peacock tail"?
Mix 5 cl of white rum, 2 cl of fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of sugar syrup.
Pour into a shaker filled with ice, shake, and serve in a Champagne glass filled
with shaved ice that looks like fresh snow. Garnish with a piece of lemon and
drink with a straw.
Photographed in cooperation with hotel Radisson SAS Alcron
HAVANA CLUB ANEJO RESERVA 40%
Great as a basis for cocktails, but straight, it tastes best over ice,
which makes its already fine bouquet even finer.
Price for bottle: cca 500 Kč
LIGHT RUM 40%
A pleasant, fruity rum from St. Croix, where it's been made since 1760.
Mixed from two- to four-year-old rums, its carbon filtration leaves it
colorless - so it's good for cocktails, and stays pure. There's also a
Price for bottle: cca 280 Kč
BACARDI CARTA BLANCA 37%
The favorite ingredient for popular cocktails like Bacardi & Coke,
Mojito, Strawberry Daiquiri, and Mary Pickford. Its fine taste and
high quality are due to double filtration through charcoal before and
Price for bottle: cca 400 Kč
RESERVA 15 let 40%
This famous Cuban rum is made by the so-called "solera" method,
whereby the youngest rum rises to the top of the barrel. The result is
fine as velvet, with a hint of caramel and an outstanding bouquet.
Price for bottle: cca 760 Kč.
KEY RUM STOCK PLZEŇ 37,5%
One of the few Czech brands that can still be called rum, as it is distilled
from sugar cane grown in Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana. White and caramel-colored
golden variants are available.
Price for bottle: cca 150 Kč.