I recently got a friend the book "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the World in 10 Cocktails" as a birthday present, and wow!
I had sort of written rum off as suitable only for the occasional Cuba Libre, and I don't think I've ever even had a pina colada. But no more rum rut for me!
I've had three of the book's supposedly world-changing cocktails so far: the Hemingway daiquiri, the Myrtle Beach punch and El Floridita. All were off the charts (see recipes below).
It turns out my friend and I aren't the only ones staging a rum renaissance. "And a Bottle of Rum," which came out in 2006, was on the heels of another book proclaiming the power of rum: "Rum: the Epic Story of the Drink that Conquered the World" by Charles Coulombe.
A quick Amazon search brings up three others rum-related releases in the last few years, not including NPR Correspondent Tom Gjelten's 2008 book on the Bacardi rum family: "Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba."
And currently, a film based on Hunter S. Thompson's novel "The Rum Diary," about a young journalist's days of working and boozing in Puerto Rico and slated to star Johnny Depp and Aaron Eckhart, is in pre-production.
1 1/2 oz. lighter rum (We used Mount Gay Special Reserve.) 1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur 3/4 oz. simple syrup 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice 3/4 oz. lime juice
Shake ingredients in iced shaker and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Myrtle Bank Punch
1 1/2 oz. dark Jamaican rum (We used Myers's Original Dark.) 3/4 oz. lime juice 1/2 oz. grenadine 1 t. bar sugar club soda 1/2 oz. Maraschino liqueur
Shake first four ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into tall glass filled with fresh crushed ice. Fill with club soda. Top with float of liqueur.
The third I had, El Floridita, is essentially the same as the Hemingway, but without the grapefruit juice, and tastes like a sweeter, slightly heavier-than-usual margarita.
Don't forego the maraschino liqueur in either drink. It's a little spendy (around $25/bottle) but totally worth it. It really legitimizes both drinks, rounding out the flavors really well.
The crushed ice also really makes a difference in the punch.