You spent three days on the beach drinking rum? Welcome to the Caribbean, love.

Linda Pinto and Heather Prochnow

Not only do we have Christopher Columbus to thank for discovering the continent we fondly call North America, but he also gave us rum! Sugar was a luxury product until the Spanish explorers found promising environments for cultivating sugarcane in Hispaniola and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Rum, the result of distilling fermented molasses, soon became a popular drink among both sailors and the European elite … as well as hockey players and frat boys. Most people associate rum with pirates, sailors, and Captain Hook, though this is not really surprising considering ships were consistently sending rum and sugar across the Atlantic. This must explain Jack Sparrow’s devotion to the sweet alcohol. In the 18th century, the British navy provided their sailors with a daily ration of rum because rum could withstand hot weather better than beer could. While the initial allowance began at a half pint a day, over time, the rum got watered down to “grog” and later mixed with lemon juice to prevent scurvy. And perhaps many a drunkard, because what SHALL we do with a drunken sailor? It wasn’t until 1970 that the rum ration was abolished, and those left to conquer the sea were free to drink and uphold the intoxicated sailor stereotype.
There are two main types of rum: light rum and dark rum. Light rum, which is bottled right after distilling, is the more popular variety due to its ability to mix well in many drinks. Dark rums are cask-aged, sometimes for decades to get their rich color. And in all honesty, what kind of individuals sit around that long waiting for rum? No one on this campus, that’s for sure. Most rums today are made at 40 percent alcohol by volume except for Bacardi, which is made at 37.5 percent ABV to be equivalent to other white spirits. There are some varieties that are still made traditionally “overproof” at naval strength of more than 50 percent ABV. This for the real rum and Coke enthusiasts!
Rum mixes well with fruit juices better than any other spirit. Famous for its taste in cola, rum is also found in pi¤a coladas and daiquiris, a favorite for many of you ladies out there (and the men who are manly enough to admit they like the refreshing blended drinks). Rum has made Mai Tais famous in Hawaii and Hurricanes famous in New Orleans … or perhaps the rum just made hurricanes a little bit more bearable down there on Bourbon Street.

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