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HomeEatRUMBeyond Bourbon: Exploring Rum in the Classic Old-Fashioned

Beyond Bourbon: Exploring Rum in the Classic Old-Fashioned

You know you want it...

Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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One evening, our friends texted, “We tried the Brugal Rum on ice last night, which we liked. We also made an old-fashioned with it and thought it had a richer flavor than cognac.” What? Rum in a traditional Whiskey Cocktail. Surely, you jest.

The history of the Old-Fashioned is quite colorful. The word “cock-tail” first appeared in a newspaper in 1806, and a reader wrote to the editor, wanting to know the word’s meaning. The editor replied the following week, saying the “cock-tail” is “…a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.” Barrooms across the country began creating their version of cocktails, the most popular being the Whiskey Cocktail. Soon, bartenders began embellishing the drink, which led some customers to rebel, asking for the “Old-Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail” instead.

In 1895, George Kappeler published random bartending recipes, including the Old-Fashioned Whisky Cocktail. The recipe read:

“Dissolve a small lump of sugar with a little water in a whiskey-glass; add two dashes Angostura bitters, a small piece of ice, a piece of lemon-peel, one jigger whiskey. Mix with small bar-spoon and serve, leaving spoon in glass.” 

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The Old-Fashioned continued to evolve, adding crushed fruit to the cocktail during prohibition to mask the taste of lousy whisky, and today, bars across the country now make “Craft Cocktail” Old-Fashioned, each with its own twist. But one ingredient remains consistent: Whiskey or Bourbon. Well, until now.

One evening, just before Christmas break, our friends joined us for an Old-Fashioned “Craft Cocktail” style using different rums. The recipe used was:

Pour 3 ounces of rum, 1 tsp of simple syrup, and 3 dashes of Orange Bitters in a cocktail glass. Stir. Add ice and a cherry.

Brugal 1888
This cocktail is very rum-forward, with caramel notes on the nose and palate and pops of oak and orange blossom on the back of the palate. The orange bitters provide a drier finish and leaves us wanting more.

Bacardi Gran Reserva Diez 10
Hands down, this smells like a rum cocktail. The fruit and toasted marshmallow we found drinking it neat, provides a good mouth feel, coating every crevice of the palate. The finish, however, turns metallic and brash. 

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12-year-old
The characteristics of this cocktail align more with a bourbon Old-Fashioned. Although fruit is on the nose, the charred oak barrels take over on the palate, descending to a warm finish. 

Mount Gay XO
This complex rum holds up nicely in the cocktail. The simple syrup and orange bitters enhance the underripe fruit notes on the nose and palate while allowing cloves to engulf the finish. The cocktail was a pleasant experience from start to finish.

While we differed on our favorites, we agreed that some, but not all, rums can be a viable option in a Craft Old-Fashioned for those who find whiskey or bourbon too peaty or harsh. Try it with different rums, then drop us a line to tell us what you think. editor@allatsea.net

About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 33 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.

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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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