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But, why is all the rum gone? It is a frequently heard refrain around our house.

This is where rum is grown. Well the sugar cane at least. This is the Valle de los Ingenios on the south cast of Cuba near Trinidad. The area is now a World Heritage Site. (Photo from El-lens on Flickr)

My husband loves his rum.  His favourites are Mount Gay, which hails from Barbados, and Jamaica’s pride, Appleton Estate.  I’m quite partial to a Cuban white rum, that despite its colour has a sweet, caramel flavour.  Alas, Ron Cuba seems to be particular to the East Coast, ie. Santiago, and is not produced for export.

I am a strong believer that different rums do different jobs.  I use Havana Club White in my mojitos, Appleton’s with Coke or ginger ale, Mount Gay is great for sipping straight-up or on the rocks.  A few years ago, we found an amazing rum while on vacation in the Bahamas.  We wandered into a liquor store in the tourist district of Nassau where we found a table full of bottles and a stack of plastic cups.  No tasting fee, no limits, just taste away and buy what you like.  The free tasting was surprising enough, but it gets better.  After tasting everything we could, we settled on a light amber from Barbados.  We searched the store for it, expecting to find it with the premium products. But no, it was the bargain brand.  At $7.00 USD per litre, we brought home three.

The Castillo de los Tres Santos Magnos del Morro stands guard at the entrance to Havana harbour. Havana remains the centre of the Cuban sugar trade which had its beginnings in the 16th Century.

Enough about the sugar and the rum, this blog is supposed to be about rum punch…

For as long as there has been rum, there has been rum punch.  So that takes us back to the 17th century Caribbean sugar plantations.  Now that’s a drink with some history!  With rum as my starting point I could tell you a story about early-modern commerce, emerging capitalism, environmental degradation, slavery, the Atlantic world, pirates, prohibition, science, agriculture… you get the idea.  But today’s story is about punch.  And, punch means different things to different people.  Just about any cocktail is a punch on some level.  The formula is simple but the ingredients infinite.

My husband’s favourite “punch” is rum and Coke, but he has a real and randomly articulated love for a good Mai Tai.  He has a habit of ordering a Mai Tai at last call or at least at the point that “one more” is already more than one-to-many.  In honour of my husband, the classic Mai Tai will be today’s incarnation of the rum punch.

The basic formula for punch, rum or otherwise, is an easily remembered ratio: one sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak.  In its simplest form, that would be 1 part lemon or lime, 2 parts simple syrup, 3 parts rum and 4 parts soda water.   It’s not a bad start… add some mint and you’ve got a mojito!  Of course this is only a guide.

Not your high school prom punch.

The Mai Tai is just a variation on this simple theme with a heavy emphasis on the rum.

  • 1/2 part lime
  • 1 part light rum
  • 1 part dark rum
  • 1 part coconut rum
  • 4 parts pineapple juice

Mix and pour over ice.   A drizzle of grenadine isn’t a bad touch.

Coconut rum is not traditional, but I really like it.  There is plenty of sweet already, so no need to add more.  And, you could use orange juice, a papaya or anything else you like, but nothing makes me think of the tropics more than pineapple.

So there you have it.  Delicious, simple and timeless, just like rum.

Bon appétit

Della

And, just for the record, that most famous of all Cuban rums, Bacardi, hasn’t been Cuban since the revolution.  Bacardi is headquartered in Bermuda and has production facilities in Puerto Rico.

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Five Factoids About Daiquiris (other wise known as “hope this helps you win Trivial Pursuit one day”)

One: A wide variety of alcoholic mixed drinks made with finely pulverized ice are often called frozen daiquiris. However, strictly speaking a Daiquiri is a family of cocktails whose main ingredients are rum, lime juice, and sugar or other sweetener. The Daiquirí is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury’s classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. A recipe for a classic daiquiri is:

2 oz White Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup

Two: The name Daiquiri is also the name of a beach near Santiago, Cuba, and an iron mine in that area. The cocktail was supposedly invented about 1900 in a bar named Venus in Santiago, about 23 miles east of the mine, by a group of American mining engineers. Consumption of the drink remained localized until 1909, when Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a U.S. Navy medical officer, tried a daiquiri. Johnson subsequently introduced it to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., and drinkers of the daiquirí increased over the space of a few decades.

Three: The drink became popular in the 1940s. Wartime rationing made whiskey, vodka, etc., hard to come by, yet because of Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy (which opened up trade and travel relations with Latin America, Cuba and the Caribbean), rum was easily obtainable. As a consequence, rum-based drinks (once frowned upon as being the domain of sailors and down-and-outs), also became fashionable, and the Daiquirí saw a tremendous rise in popularity in the US.

Four: The daiquiri was one of the favorite drinks of writer Ernest Hemingway and president John F. Kennedy.

Five: The basic recipe for a Daiquirí is also similar to the grog British sailors drank aboard ship from the 1740s onwards. By 1795 the Royal Navy daily grog ration contained rum, water, ¾ ounce of lemon or lime juice, and 2 ounces of sugar. This was a common drink across the Caribbean, and as soon as ice became available this was included instead of the water.

Suddenly thirsty? Try a Hemingway Daiquirí, or Papa Doble – two and a half jiggers of Bacardi White Label, juice of two limes and half a grapefruit, six drops of maraschino liqueur, served frozen. Warning, one commenter on the web says of this drink: ” 4/5 sitars: Makes you feel like a suicidal alcoholic in a third-world nation. But in a good way.”

As for me, I did my drinking before I did my research, so I had a blended strawberry daiquiri before knowing that I could try to procure something more classic, or Hemingway-esque. But you know what? On the patio, with the sun in my face, it was delicious. 🙂

~Deanna

[Eds: Michelle and Taiwan T, who were instrumental in helping us “test” margarita’s, have returned to 365foods with their first solo blog post. Shower them with loving comments, won’t you!]

It’s called ‘Escape’…that Pina Colada song that invariably enters everyone’s mind at the mere mention of pina coladas. Flashback moment and a reminder of the chorus:

“If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain.
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
You’re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me, and escape.”

Pina Coladas are the white, fluffy, easy-drinking beverage of tropical vacations where airy-fairy drinks seem most appropriate. So imagine my surprise when in our courting stage my man, Taiwan T, takes me for dinner and while I order my standard vodka martini with lots of olives (heck of a day at the office y’know)…my new found love orders a Pina Colada!! And to be clear, we were NOT on a beach in Jamaica. Heck no….downtown Victoria in the bleak winter months! ‘Taiwan T’ loves his Pina Coladas and is never hesitant to order one when the mood strikes him. So in honour of his love and finely honed Pina Colada taste buds we volunteered for this blog entry. In fact, Taiwan T even got suited up for the occasion!

History Lesson: In Spanish, piña colada means “strained pineapple”. In 1978 Puerto Rico declared it the national drink of the country. It was invented in 1954 by Ramon “Monchito” Marrero, a bartender at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan. He wanted to capture all of the flavours of Puerto Rico in a glass. It took him three months of experimenting before he came up with the piña colada. Ya gotta admire Ramon’s dedication to his craft.

The raw ingredients!

Here are the two versions we created and drank:

Texas Version*
4oz. White Rum
1 tub Udder Guys Roasted coconut ice cream
4 Pineapple rings from tin, with about half the juice

Blend and add crushed ice, blend some more.
*courtesy of our former neighbours who believed MORE was better!

The Texas version makes the neighbours come running!

International Bar Association version (no lawyers where harmed in the making of this version)
1 part white rum
1 part cream of coconut
2 parts pineapple juice
Mix with crushed ice until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish and serve. Garnish with pineapple slice and maraschino cherry.

Hands down the roasted ice cream versions was the winner. Creamy, subtle sweetness and yummy tidbits of coconut and pineapple. The coconut cream lacked the sweetness we were craving and was too bitter. We added more juice and (gasp) Malibu rum in an attempt for more sweetness…we just got more tipsy instead (hic!)

Have you figured out who the artist of ‘Escape’ is yet?… *drumroll*……… Rupert Holmes 🙂

~ M. and Taiwan