Given that a good deal of the world's rum is produced in the Caribbean nations, it's not too surprising that the mere mention of this particular spirit conjures up images of swaying palm trees and sandy beaches. And perhaps pirates; after all, who doesn't remember 15 men on a dead man's chest, yo-ho-hoing and passing that bottle of rum around?
Rum is a distilled spirit made primarily from sugarcane and sugarcane by-products like molasses. The distilled liquid is then usually aged in oak barrels, and some types are flavored with spices or fruit. While the lighter rums, like the popular Puerto Rican rums widely consumed in the Unites States, are generally used in mixed drinks, darker rums and spiced rums can be enjoyed straight or on the rocks. You might have enjoyed light rum in a piña colada or other fruity concoction. If you've ever enjoyed a drink served to you in a coconut shell, it probably had rum in it.
The darker rums can also be used in mixed drinks, but you want to be careful not to overwhelm the flavor of the rum itself. One nice way to enjoy it is in a Dark and Stormy, which pairs dark rum with ginger beer.
The name Dark and Stormy (or Dark 'n' Stormy) is actually a trademark belonging to Gosling Brothers, Ltd., the company that makes Black Seal rum. And to take it one step further, the company has trademarked the drink itself - if you're serving a Dark 'n' Stormy in your establishment, it must contain nothing but Gosling's Black Seal rum and ginger beer. No embellishments from a creative bartender. No other brand of rum. It's Gosling's Black Seal. And ginger beer. End of story.
While the trademarked recipe doesn't specify a brand of ginger beer, it's worth going out of your way to find a good quality one. I like the spicy ones that make the inside of your nose tingle when you drink them; my friend Josh is partial to Barritt's and thinks it's worth seeking out. Truth be told, I've made these drinks with diet ginger ale in a pinch, but I don't recommend it.
The recipe couldn't be simpler. Into a highball glass filled with ice pour 1.5 ounces of Gosling's Black Seal rum (Gosling's website calls for 1.5 ounces; I like to pour two ounces). Fill the glass with ginger beer; garnish with a twist of lime if desired (I happen to like the lime part of this enough to squeeze a very generous slice of it directly into the glass when I make my drink).
And while I obviously can't call it a Dark 'n' Stormy without incurring the wrath of the legal pirates at Gosling's I recently made a drink kinda sorta like this with a fairly new arrival on the rum scene called The Kraken Black Spiced Rum. It was good (I like the rum itself; like Gosling's, it can be enjoyed neat), no matter what you call it.