Notwithstanding unseasonably warm weather across much of the country, by late February, odds are we’re all dreaming of a getaway. So today, we’re bringing you a trip to the tropics, with three Barbados-inspired rum drinks. Pick up a bottle of the island’s favorite rum, Mount Gay — we’re using Mount Gay Black Barrel, aged in heavily charred former bourbon casks for a richer, deeper character — and give these three cocktails a try.
Note: We’re using demerara sugar syrup for a richer flavor in each of these drinks. To make it, just stir equal parts demerara sugar and hot water together until dissolved. You can use classic simple syrup instead and it’ll work just fine, but for flavor, go for the demerara.
Easy: Rum Punch
Within an hour of arriving in Barbados, we promise: You will be offered a rum punch. They’re generally quite sweet, often made in proportion to the rhyme “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak” — that’d be sugar, lime, rum, and water, respectively. With apologies to tradition, that’s too much sugar to our taste, so we’ve tweaked the formula. Don’t skimp on the Angostura bitters here; they provide the rosy-red color and complex, spiced flavor.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounces of Mount Gay Black Barrel, 3/4 ounce of fresh lime juice, 3/4 ounce of demerara sugar syrup, 3/4 ounce of water, and 1/4 ounce of Angostura bitters. Shake all that up until well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with ice. Garnish with grated nutmeg and whatever cocktail whimsy you like — an umbrella is perfect.
Intermediate: Rum Mule
When you go into one of Barbados’s many, many small bars known as rum shops, you’ll see folks drinking (you guessed it) rum either neat, with soda, or often, with ginger ale. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a rum-ginger highball, we like it even better as a mule, with lime, ginger beer, and fresh ginger as well.
Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle a 1/2-inch thick round of ginger. Add 2 ounces of Mount Gay Black Barrel, 1 of fresh lime juice, and 3/4 ounce of demerara sugar syrup. Shake until very well-chilled, then double-strain (through a fine mesh strainer, as well as the shaker’s own strainer) into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with about 1 ounce of ginger beer. Garnish with a lime slice and ginger slice.
Advanced: Rum Sour
Order a rum sour in Barbados, and they’re generally a bit light and frothy, as a proper sour should be; we’re making ours exceptionally so with the addition of a whole egg white. It doesn’t contribute any flavor, but does round out the harsh edges of the lime and lend a lovely silky texture. A fully-loaded cocktail that goes down easy.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine 2 ounces of Mount Gay Black Barrel, 1 ounce of fresh lime juice, 1/2 an ounce of demerara sugar syrup, and 1 egg white. Shake all that up without ice to aerate it — that’s called a “dry shake” — and then add ice and shake again for a “wet shake,” to chill it down. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a cherry.