Root Source: Dark Rum
what you should know
Christopher Columbus brought Asian sugar cane to the West Indies in 1492. The sweet, fibrous stalk spread quickly throughout the Caribbean. A century and a half later, the liquor distilled from it was notorious enough to be banned by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Rum is made from both fermented sugar cane and its syrupy by-product, molasses. Rich, caramel dark rum is made by aging clear rum in casks, usually ones made of charred oak. (The double distillation process is similar to the one used to make Cognac.)
yo ho ho Drinking rum to excess was a popular theme of pirate songs, and its general affiliation with the sea led to some interesting cocktails. Most of us know about grog, a mixture of rum and water (and sometimes lime). Kill Devil was a mixture of rum and gunpowder. Bumboo called for rum, water, sugar and nutmeg. And Rumbullion contained rum, wine, tea, lime, spices and -- one imagines -- anything else lying around Blackbeard's galley.
triangle trade Sugar cane and rum formed one leg of history's most despicable triangle trade routes.
what you need
Several rum-centric histories have been published over the past few years: Ian Williams' Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776; Wayne Curtis' And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails; and Charles Coulombe's Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink that Conquered the World.
Save your back from all that hunching over to read the side of the measuring cup. Invest in an OXO Good Grips 2-cup angled measuring cup.
While you're indulging your OXO love, plop down the $20 for this 8-inch double rod strainer.
what you do
We used rum to deglaze the pan and form the base of the pan sauce, which infused some richness to this dish of braised pork with mushrooms and basil.
A stewed chicken dish popular in Trinidad and Tobago, this potent Caribbean chicken is sweet, spicy, rich and mouth-filling.
Speaking of Trinidad, to make a local rum punch, remember this little ditty: one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong, four parts weak.
Though the rum's optional in this banana hazelnut upside down cake, we urge you to tip it in.