“Dark rum in drinks, maybe even expensive vintage rum as a mixer in drinks – you can’t do that, that’s BLASPHEMI!?”— Anyone
You’ve probably heard the above sentence in some variation and I must admit, that I was once one of those people singing this song. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t do that anymore because several years ago it dawned to me how incredibly wrong, elitist and hopeless it was for me to claim that only cheap spirits belonged in cocktails and the expensive ones was for “pure” drinking only. Oh how wrong I was.
Where does this misconception originate from?
I have no clue, but I think I got it from the whisky-loving community – that’s where I’ve heard it mentioned the most anyway. As far as I see it, most people will claim that a 15 year old Laphroaigh should never be mixed with cola, an that it is better straight up (some will claim that watering it down or serving it on the rocks is allowed). And they are probably right, seen from their point of view, but who decides what I think tastes nice? Some feinschmecker – or me?
In honesty I probably wouldn’t mix the Laphroaigh with cola, it’s too smoky for that (it was just an example), but after having spent too much money on cheap booze in my younger years (and hated myself for it every single “the day after”) I’ve developed a taste for the finer taste notes in premium spirits. I’ve become a genuine fan of rum; of good rum, that is. Not of the most expensive, vintage collectors editions, but of good, fair-priced rum like the El-Dorado and the Ron Zacapa. And I’m not afraid to serve them straight up or as mixers in drinks and cocktails.
What has changed?
You see, I’ve discovered that by using a good rum or whisky it adds a dimension to the drink that wasn’t there before. Some you’ll like and some you’ll hate, but that is not the point. The point is that by trying you get to optimize a given cocktail to your pallet, not mine or some unknown bartender in a bar eighty years ago. Over time I’ve come up with some mashup’s (mixups?) that my girlfriend and I enjoy thoroughly when sitting alone or with friends on the balcony, overlooking the sun set below the water. Now that’s life…
The thing is, it’s not about how much you paid for the bottle, it’s about endulging in a drink that really gets to you. A drink that matches your demands, your needs. And I honestly think that a mojito (here’s a recipe for a World Class mojito) when it gets that certain glow, or tinge, that only the subtle colours form a great, dark rum can provide.
If you have the courage to pay a little more for your rum and as a result experience what rum could taste like, I can recommend the following rums, all of which are within economical reach for most people:
- Ron Zacapa Solera 23
- El-Dorado 12 Years or El-Dorado 15 Years
- Captain Morgan Private Stock
So to wrap it up: I love drinking my rum or whisky straight up, but I equally enjoy drinking it in cocktail, provided it does something good for my drink. In advanced cocktails with a lot of powerful, aromatic ingredients I tend to keep it simple, or at least reconsider it before I swap for a more aromatic rum (you might want to stick with the light rum instead).
What’s your opinion regarding using premium, vintage spirits in drinks? Go or No-go?