Rum: Production, Cocktails and History

By Zoe Denckla
Rum is created from leftover dregs of sugar that sit, ferment, and become alcoholic over time. There are endless possibilities for how it can be aged, flavored, and filtered. This spirit can spice up any occasion, whether it’s adding a kick to a cocktail or giving a cake a new depth of flavor. Rum’s history, on the other hand, is not so positive. It was made on sugar plantations in the West Indies starting in the mid-1600s,  produced by the labor of enslaved people, and deeply linked to triangle slave trade. 
Today, rum is produced in over 90 countries and is one of the most diverse spirits on the market. This playlist will introduce you to the spirit's eclecticism. Gain insight into the modern difficulties of branding and producing rum and dive into the invention of modern rum drinks such as the daiquiri or the mai tai. Plus, explore the drinks history and listen in on a heartfelt conversation about the personal significance of a rum cake.

Back Bar Episode 4: Rum, Sugar, Lime, Water: The daiquiri seems simple, right?: Europeans came to the Caribbean and rum followed. Shortly after that we get the “holy trinity” of tropical drinks - rum, sugar and lime. It’s such a simple concept but like the history of the Caribbean itself it gets much, much more complicated than that. Special guests this week are Jillian Vose, beverage director of Dead Rabbit in New York City and Professor Fred Smith of the College of William & Mary.

The Speakeasy Episode 378: Oh the Places Rum Goes: Edouard Beaslay, Global Brand Director for Diplomatico sits down with the band to talk about the challenges of running a business in Venezuela and what you can use rum for in quarantine (spoiler alert: everything). 

Meat and Three Episode 125: Out to Sea: Sailors, Shellfish and Seaweed: Dive beneath the waves for an episode all about oceans. We visit underwater farms to learn about the current oyster boom and the benefits of growing kelp. Then, we climb on deck to understand how lobsters and fishermen are being impacted by the changing climate and travel back in time aboard British naval ships to sip on a game-changing cocktail: grog. 

Meat and Three Episode 126 Acid Redux: Citrus, Vinegar, Coffee, and Grog: Explore all things tangy, sour, and sharp in an episode about acid. We look at how one bar is finding creative ways to stop wasting citrus. Then we hear from an HRN host who travelled the world to learn about vinegar and we experiment with reducing acidity in coffee. We also continue our conversation about grog, jumping from the 18th century to the present day to discover some refreshing cocktail recipes. 

The Speakeasy Episode 441: Rum if You Want: Marc Farrell, founder and CEO of Ten to One Rum sits down with the band to talk rum culture, what he has in common with Tony Stark and the future of commerce as we all move into the brave new world of hybrid online/irl drinking. Plus: College Bars! Can we go back again? Spoiler alert: no.

A Hungry Society Episode 54: Shannon Mustipher on Modern Tiki and Rum: Shannon Mustipher is a spirits educator, cocktail consultant, and expert on the topic of rum and cane spirits. In 2014, she became the beverage director of the former Glady’s Caribbean in Brooklyn, and has poured cocktails in settings ranging from neighborhood pubs to Michelin restaurants. She is also the author of “Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails.” The show delves into bartending in New York City, why rum is a “window on the world” and more.

Processing Episode 46: “Monica O’Connell” - Rum Cake: Cake designer, baker and writer, Monica O'Connell has a deeply spiritual relationship with food, from the stunning cakes that she creates in her business, Curtis & Cake, to the foods she prepares in her personal life, to the nostalgia for the foods of her youth such as rum cake. She shares with us the different types of loss and grief that she has been dealing with this past year, including the very painful loss of her mother, and the non stop violence toward and murder of Black people in America. This was a deep and also very tender conversation, and we’re so grateful to Monica for her generosity in sharing her experiences and emotions with us. 

The Speakeasy Episode 417: You Put the Rum in the Coconut: Entrepreneur, rum pioneer and former coconut smuggler, Dani Zig joins Greg and Sother to talk about innovation in spirits, respecting your ingredients and how fortunate it is that the US government considers a certain plant nuts, not fruit. 

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