After the glorious rehabilitation of gin and bourbon in the cocktail cosmos, it was inevitable that rum would get its own moment of glory. There's an intrinsic warmth in dark rum's notes of spice and molasses that brings out the best of a winter's night -- even in a long drink like the dark 'n' stormy, which is fast becoming as ubiquitous as the cosmopolitan was for a hot Sex and the City second. Partly that's because American bars have belatedly discovered ginger beer, and in rare cases even started making their own (New York City's Little Branch is a case in point), but it's also because rum is the crowd-pleaser in the room. Gin and whiskey have their acolytes, and no one is ever going to object to vodka (it's so wonderfully adequate), but rum is the charmer that can be droll (pi'a colada) or seductive (dark 'n' stormy) to order. Although you might want to treat top shelf brands like Appleton Estate the way you'd treat single malt -- i.e., neat -- it's robust enough to withstand some mixing and shaking. Try it with a dash of Angostura bitters, half a cube of sugar, a teaspoon of water, and a twist of lemon for a rum old-fashioned. Or go the highball route and mix two ounces of dark rum (Gosling's Black Seal, if you want to be truly authentic) with eight ounces of a peppy ginger beer like Reed's from Jamaica (get the extra ginger brew if you can find it), and garnish with lime for a dark 'n' stormy night of it. -- Aaron Hicklin
Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of'
When it comes to rum, every Caribbean isle has its iconic brand. On Anguilla, an Anglo sliver in the British West Indies as well-known for its pristine beaches (33 of them) as its celebrity breakups (Brad and Jen split at the Villa Exclusivity), Pyrat rum has long been the preferred fuel for the party (whether at reggae musician Bankie Banx's Dune Preserve or at Smokey's at the Cove).
The name (pronounced 'pirate') and squat groglike bottle channel the island's swashbuckling legacy. But this bespoke hooch -- a rich, spicy blend of nine different rums -- is certainly not pirate swill. Pyrat's 15-year-aged XO Reserve Planters Gold features a deep amber hue and complex aromas of apricot, orange, and toffee.'Even the oldest Pyrat mixes well in cocktails.'Try it in a classic BWI swizzle (rum, Marie Brizard Apry liqueur, lime, Angostura bitters) or a Papa Doble daiquiri (double shot of rum, Maraschino liqueur, lime, grapefruit).
And if you happen to be under the palms at the legendary Cap Juluca resort (the top spot on Anguilla) ask barkeep Catherine Niles to shake you up a tall Pyrat Dream (two types of Pyrat -- Pistol and Savage -- passion fruit, pineapple, lime, Angostura bitters). After a couple you may feel as clairvoyant as Hoti, the patron saint of fortune tellers, whose Buddha belly hangs on a medallion around every bottle of Pyrat. -- Baroness Sheri de Borchgrave