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The Rebirth of Rum

January 26, 2012

By: Marshall Altier

Another exciting year has passed us by in the world of cocktails and spirits. Everyone wants to know: What will be the next cocktail trend or hot spirit to break through into the market? Is it spicy drinks, low-cal skinny girl concoctions? Molecular mixology re-discovered with nitrous oxide frosted gloss? Hogwash.

We would posit that the answers lie in the annals of the past. If we do a little digging into American history and the history of distilled spirits, it doesn’t take long for us to stumble upon sugar cane. Introduced by Columbus and therefore alongside New World Western culture itself, sugar cane has been found as residue in the earliest remnants of present day Pakistan and dating back to 500 BC.

Rum, then, also grew up alongside trade and commerce in the Caribbean and New England colonies and forever ingrained itself into America’s DNA by allowing the colonies to become economically strong enough to want out from under the thumb of Great Britain. England had colonies throughout the New World in the 18th century that included the West Indies, where sugar plantations created fortunes that rivaled those of names like Rockefeller and Gates in their respective times.

The American Revolution in 1776, was in no short part ignited by the meddling of the English government in the molasses trade (ever heard of the Molasses Act?) and therefore messing ‘round with our rum’. Research by astute authors like Wayne Curtis, the man behind one of the finest reads anyone interested in the spirit can find, “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the new World in Ten Cocktails”, tells us that at least 160 distilleries were producing rums in the colonies at this time. If that isn’t an American spirit, I don’t know what is!

These rums were funky pot-still rums that went by daunting names like Kill Devil and Demon Water. Rum lost its way after the Revolution and both production and consumption dropped off sharply as molasses became scarce and grain more readily available. Rum stayed on, however, in the Caribbean with each island developing its own unique style according to its colonial parent and other various circumstances. Eventually a process was found to clean up and lighten rum much like the process employed for many generations prior in vodka making.

Fast-forward to today and we seem to have disconnected to what makes rum, RUM. The sweet, earthy, funky notes and tropical fruits that these grasses have grown up nearby have been stripped away by rums that disguise themselves as Vodkas in today’s market. There is a movement happening in which people are rediscovering flavor and rediscovering classic cocktails and spirits alongside these drinks. In short, people want the funk back. Rum is often about blending a number of different single spirits to develop character and consistency in a brand. There are no regulations in place that say just what rum has to be or how it must be made and therefore there is tremendous variation in the spirit. Working with master blenders who have been trading and producing rum for nearly three centuries is what gives Denizen its unique character and impeccable quality.

As people re-examine some of these great classic cocktails from the America’s and the Caribbean, and therefore re-examine what rum is all about, we are proud to be on the cutting edge of the new renaissance of rum. Try our adaption of the Pineapple Syllabub and see how Denizen frees the flavor of this classic rum coctail recipe.

Pineapple Syllabub

Adapted from Wayne Curtis author of “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails”, and designated drinker for The Atlantic magazine.

An updated take on the syllabub, which had existed since the fifteenth century, but didn’t formalize in style until the eighteenth.


• 1.5 oz Pineapple-Infused Rum*

• 1 tsp Lemon zest

• .5 oz Lemon juice

• 1 oz Half-and-half

• .5 oz Honey syrup (3 parts honey, one part hot water, stirred until consistent)

• Garnish: Nutmeg

• Glass: Rocks

Preparation: Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Pineapple-Infused Rum*


• 1 (750-ml) bottle Denizen White Rum

• Half a pineapple, peeled and cut into spears

Preparation: Combine the rum and pineapple in a large jar or other container with a lid. Cover and let stand for 2 to 3 days, tasting periodically for optimal flavor. Strain out the pineapple and re-bottle the rum

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