This month our Caribbean Bar celebrates the intoxicating connection between the Caribbean and its most famous besotted beverage: rum. It is here that rum became a mainstay in the tall tales of famed pirates and in barrels of grog used to quench the thirst of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy. Today, it is synonymous with the region. Although its history is complicated and controversial, the end product is unequivocally one of the most recognizable spirits in the world.
Rum finds its origins in the sugar plantations of the West Indies in the Sixteenth Century, where plantation workers devised a method to ferment molasses, a byproduct of the sugar refining process, into alcohol. Once again, the wisdom is in the workers! This alcohol was then distilled to concentrate the alcohol and remove impurities. The result was the world’s first glimpse at its new island-style spirit: rum.
Caribbean rum lingered in the plantation fields and local bars in relative obscurity until it found a loyal following to the north in the newly-established American colonies. The New Englanders fancied a fine beverage, but not much diversity was to be found in their homes and pubs. European spirits traveled far and came at a high cost, so the Colonies were quite ready for an inebriating alternative closer to home. Rum was cheap both in its ingredients and shipping prices, and it could be replenished far quicker. A win-win for the New World. Rum quickly established itself as the drink of choice in New England, warming the colonists during the harsh winters and lessening their reliance on rival France’s Cognac.
As appeal for rum increased, so too must its supply. To support this demand, plantation owners needed a reliable and plentiful labor source. They found it in the triangular trade - a structured trade route of moving slaves, molasses, and rum between Africa, the Caribbean, and the Colonies. Ruthless in its treatment of slaves, this trade route was incredibly profitable for Spanish, Dutch, and French plantation owners in the Caribbean. The British Crown took notice.
England responded with the Molasses Act of 1733, which imposed a heavy tax on sugar and molasses coming from anywhere except the British sugar islands in the Caribbean. One problem: colonists were rather disinclined to pay higher taxes. Smuggling, bribery, and intimidation of customs became routine. Even early on, rum carried a fragrance of revolution ...
The Molasses Act of 1733 was the first instance of blatant disrespect for British laws that unfairly imposed taxes on the colony, the precursor to the American Revolution. It would seem that Boston’s tea party was accompanied by a splash of rum.
The Caribbean’s sugar cane industry has experienced significant decline in the last few centuries, accelerated in large part by the abolition of slavery and greater competition from other regions of the world. Rum production, however, is still a vital component to the region’s heritage and economy. Three distinctive styles have emerged. On islands with Spanish influence, such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic, rum is produced in a smooth, aged, and often blended style called añejo. For English colonies, such as Jamaica and Barbados, rum is produced with more molasses character, resulting a darker style of rum. Finally, in French colonies like Haiti and Martinique, rum agricole is made from sugar cane juice, producing a grassy, botanical style of rum with less concentrated sweetness and more herbal and earth notes.
This bar carries a true and honest expression of Caribbean Rum. Infused with Appleton Estate, a Jamaican rum, molasses notes come through beautifully on the palate, mixed with a complex profile of vanilla, caramel, coffee, sugar cane, grass, pineapple, starfruit, and floral notes. The bar is sweetened by the rum infusion, but maintains a bitter presence that plays on the palate and reminds us that this is definitely still a dark chocolate bar. From start to finish, our Caribbean Bar will whisk you away to the azure blue waters and sandy beaches of the Caribbean. So toss on some Bob Marley vibes and enjoy the ride!