It’s National Rum Day, and as we reported earlier this week, Cuba Libre is offering a special: half off rums and rum cocktails during a “Caippy” hour from 4:30 to 6:30 in the bar area. If that doesn’t appeal, consider heading to Bar Pilar, where you can try a Cuba Libre float, one of the greatest things we’ve ever tasted through a straw.
Whatever you do to celebrate the versatile spirit, here are five rum facts likely to impress your fellow drinkers.
1) Generally speaking, rum is a alcohol distillate made “from the fermented juices of sugar cane, sugar cane spirits, sugar cane, or other sugar cane byproducts,” per federal regulations—which also stipulate that to be called rum, the spirit must also demonstrate characteristics of the category and be produced and bottled at certain proofs.
2) Barbados is believed to be the birthplace of rum. Records of the spirit date back to the mid-1600s.
3) At Tales of the Cocktail this year, F. Paul Pacult—a Chicago-based spirits expert who publishes the indispensable F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal—predicted rum was poised to be the next breakout spirit in the US market.
4) Drinking rum is, in a way, an act of patriotism. According to Wayne Curtis’s book And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, there were 159 rum distilleries in New England in 1763. Colonists flaunted their independence from Britain by opting for rum over the mother country’s spirit of choice, which was gin.
5) Cachaça, the increasingly well-known sugar-cane-based spirit from Brazil, was, until recently, classified in the US as a rum. Earlier this year, however, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau began to recognize it as its own spirit category. You can find out a lot more about that from a fellow who calls himself rumdood. Meantime, just avoid calling cachaça rum in front of enthusiasts—unless you’re looking for a bar brawl.