National Rum Day

It's National Rum Day on the 16th of August, why not celebrate with some delicious rum cocktails.

The History of Rum

Do you know much about where rum came from? Here's a little of the history behind this famous spirit.

Rum is a liquor made by fermenting and then distilling sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice. The distillate, a clear liquid, is usually aged in oak barrels. Most rums are produced in the Caribbean and North and South American countries.

Rum plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies as well as the Maritime provinces and Newfoundland, in Canada. The beverage has famous associations with the Royal Navy (where it was mixed with water or beer to make grog) and piracy. Rum has also served as a popular medium of economic exchange, used to help fund enterprises such as slavery.

Rum's association with piracy began with English privateers' trading in valuable commodities. Some of the privateers became pirates and buccaneers, with a continuing fondness for rum; the association between the two was only strengthened by literary works such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

The association of rum with the Royal Navy began in 1655 when a Royal Navy fleet captured the island of Jamaica. With the availability of domestically produced rum, the British changed the daily ration of liquor given to seamen from French brandy to rum.

Navy rum was originally a blend mixed from rums produced in the West Indies. It was initially supplied at a strength of 100 degrees (UK) proof, 57% alcohol by volume (ABV), as that was the only strength that could be tested (by the gunpowder test) before the invention of the hydrometer. The term "Navy strength" is used in modern Britain to specify spirits bottled at 57% ABV.

While the ration was originally given neat or mixed with lime juice, the practice of watering down the rum began around 1740. To help minimize the effect of the alcohol on his sailors, Admiral Edward Vernon had the rum ration watered, producing a mixture that became known as grog. The Royal Navy continued to give its sailors a daily rum ration, known as a "tot", until the practice was abolished on 31 July 1970.

Today, a tot (totty) of rum is still issued on special occasions, using an order to "splice the mainbrace", which may only be given by the Queen, a member of the royal family or, on certain occasions, the admiralty board in the UK. Recently, such occasions have included royal marriages or birthdays, or special anniversaries.

A legend involving naval rum and Horatio Nelson says that following his victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson's body was preserved in a cask of rum to allow transportation back to England. Upon arrival, however, the cask was opened and found to be empty of rum. The [pickled] body was removed and, upon inspection, it was discovered that the sailors had drilled a hole in the bottom of the cask and drunk all the rum. The official record states merely that the body was placed in "refined spirits" and does not go into further detail.


The Jungle Bird

The Jungle Bird is a sweet, tropical rum cocktail that's made with pineapple and lime juices.

45 ml dark rum
20 ml pomegranate juice
45 ml pineapple juice
15 ml lime juice, freshly squeezed
15 ml brown sugar/demerara syrup
Pineapple slice for garnishing


Mix the rum, pomegranate juice, pineapple juice, lime juice and brown sugar/demerara syrup in a shaker with ice until thoroughly chilled.
Pour into a rock glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and serve.

White Bat


45ml white rum
15ml Kahlúa
90ml cola, chilled
45ml whole milk
Garnish: mint leaves


Add the white rum, Kahlúa, cola and whole milk to a highball glass filled with ice and stir briefly and gently to combine. Garnish with mint leaves.