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Six Rum-derful facts about Rum!

We keep hearing rumours that rum is destined to become the ‘new gin’ so with that in mind we decided to look into the history of rum, one the worlds most popular drinks on #NationalRumDay. Here are six rum-derful facts you may not have known before!

1. Rum is made from sugarcane by-products – either molasses or sugarcane juice is fermented and distilled to produce a clear spirit. This is then aged in oak barrels according to the manufacturers specifications and recipe.

2. The primary ingredient sugarcane, is a grass of the genus Saccharum. Rums produced from fresh pressed sugarcane juice make up only 3% of all rums, whilst those produced using molasses account for the remaining 97%!

3. After Saccharum’s usefulness (and deliciousness!) was discovered, sugarcane went from being an unknown wild species of grass to the world’s largest cultivated crop.

4. Rum’s history is a chequered and often sad one and to talk of its wonders without acknowledging this would be remiss. As the popularity of rum increased in the 1600’s, more and more plantations were needed. These sugar plantations were supported by a slave-based economy, with people kept as slaves living in wretched conditions with no control over their own lives. Thankfully today’s rum manufacturers are acknowledged for their socially conscious approach.

5. It’s hard to think of rum without envisaging creaking ancient Tall Ships cutting their way across the Atlantic. Rum’s popularity even reached Royal Navy sailors who were supplied rum rations to their crew by the tot (about 70ml of 95.5% Rum!) each midday.

6. Sailing superstition meant glasses were never ‘clinked’ onboard the ship as the sound of ringing glass spelled death for a sailor, and worse the Devil himself would take two sailors if the ringing sound were stopped. Additionally the tot glasses were only washed on the outside as it was believed the lingering rum residue would serve to make the drink stronger. Whilst we no longer believe clinking glasses heralds death, should you be unfortunate enough to chip the rim of your Cumbria Crystal glasses we are often able to repair it – potentially saving you from an unpleasant fate!

Modern rum consumption is broken into two main camps with white or silver rums tending to be used for making cocktails and dark, golden or spiced rums being enjoyed neat, on the rocks or with a mixer. We like ours aged, served over ice; poured from a cut crystal decanter into a beautiful hand-made Cumbria Crystal tumbler or alternatively whizzed up into an all singing all dancing Pina Colada. You can find the definitive recipe for this in our last blog here.

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6 surprising Pina Colada facts and the definitive recipe

If you like Pina Coladas, and getting caught in the rain (and even if you don’t) then you’ll love our 6 lesser known facts about this wonderfully uplifting drink. Join us as we celebrate National Pina Colada Day!

Pina Colada
Classic Pina Colada served in Cumbria Crystal Lyre Highball

1. It is thought the Pina Colada was being drunk as far back as the 1800’s, and by pirates no less. Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí used the pineapple, coconut and rum cocktail to lift the spirits of his crew. Sadly this original version of the recipe was lost after Roberto’s death in 1825 but we’re guessing it was pretty rum heavy.

2. It wasn’t until 1954 that the drink was brought back to life, Bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero is now cited as the drinks official inventor. Ramon worked on the definitive recipe for months in an attempt to encapsulate the essence of Puerto Rico before settling on the Pina Colada.

3. Ramon served the drink for 35 years at the Caribe Hilton before The Pina Colada was officially made the national drink of Puerto Rico in 1978.

4. Rupert Holmes who penned the famous song Escape (The Pina Colada Song) doesn’t like the cocktail, saying it tastes medicinal. He’s wrong. It’s delicious!

5. The famous line originally said ‘if you like Humphrey Bogart’ but was replaced with the “first exotic drink” Rupert could think of.

6. Originally titled ‘Escape’ initial sales of the record were slow as despite its popularity people called it by the name of the cocktail. Reluctantly Rupert Holmes agreed to change the name to Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and the record went straight to number 1.

It wouldn’t be fair to whet your appetite for the drink without giving you the recipe. The below is the official Caribe Hilton recipe. We’ve served it in our Lyre range which was especially created for the modern cocktail drinker and maker.

Pina Colada Recipe

60ml rum

30ml coconut cream

30ml double cream

175ml fresh pineapple juice

¼ pint of crushed ice

Method

Mix rum, cream of coconut, double cream and pineapple juice in a blender. Add ice and stir for 15 seconds. Serve in a 12oz glass and garnish with fresh pineapple and a cherry.

The very fact the Pina Colada warrants a ‘national day’ highlights the resurgence of the cocktail in recent years. Mixologists are constantly driving forward new recipes and adding increasingly dramatic effects to their drinks. Despite this innovation some cocktails are still included on menus around the globe and the Pina Colada remains a tropical favourite. Enjoy yours!