Rum's gotten a bad rap--it's come to be associated more with Girls Gone Wild than civilized drinking. When's the last time you saw someone over 21 order a daiquiri except at Lulu's on Mardi Gras? While the popular mojito helped bring it some attention, it's only lately getting real respect.
Seafood restaurant Black Salt (4883 MacArthur Blvd., NW; 202-342-9101) has a menu of four premium sipping rums, including Mount Gay Extra Old and Cruzan's Estate Reserve, which are traditionally served "neat" and enjoyed after a meal. Downtown DC hot spot Oya (777 Ninth St., NW; 202-393-1400) has centered its cocktail menu around rum. Bar master Christian Post has livened up classic rum cocktails to produce a cardamom-scented Jamaican Sunset, Grilled Piña Colada, and the Darker and Stormier, which uses lime, ginger, and coriander-infused Gosling's Black Seal. His daiquiri, neither fruity nor frozen, features a hint of cilantro.
Post's favorite rum is from Cuba--and is therefore unavailable--but he also likes Pyrat from Anguilla and Barbancourt from Haiti. "To me it's inexplicable how people ever got away from rum," Post says. "Vodka is boring. Rum has all kinds of flavors going on."