What is Rum?


No other spirit makes us think of the beach, sun and good times quite like rum does. It’s the go-to spirit for many of our favorite tiki cocktails. In fact, some of the most famous tropical cocktails, like the Mai Tai and Zombie, use a mixture of multiple types of rum to get that delicious, sweet flavor. So what exactly is this smooth, molasses-like spirit? We’re here to give you a quick low down on all things rum.


-An alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented sugarcane byproducts, like honeys or molasses or even straight from sugarcane juice. 

-The clear liquid that results is then usually ages in oak barrels. 

-The end result falls within the 35.7%-80% ABV range.

A Brief History:

While we associate rum with the Caribbean, its origins have actually been traced back thousands of years ago to India and China, where the sugar cane plant actually originates from

Still, the rum that we know and love today, was first distilled in the Caribbean on sugarcane plantations in the 17th century. Records exist of the early batches being referred to as “kill-devil” thanks to its burning taste

Unsurprisingly, given its geographical roots in the Caribbean, rum has a dark history that is thoroughly intertwined with slavery, piracy, military insurgencies and organized crime

It was often used in lieu of currency and help funded slavery and organized crime. The first rum distillery in America opened in 1664 on what is now Staten Island.

Light rum vs. dark rum


So why are some rums light, some gold, and some dark? The sugary spirit is actually made in several grades:

-White or light rums are—generally speaking—the youngest type of rum, aged in steel barrels for typically two years or less.

-They are usually more mild in flavor and therefore perfect for cocktails.

-Gold rums are usually aged for at least a few years in oak barrels, allowing for it to absorb some of the coloring from the wood

-The aging process in these wooden barrels gives these rums more flavor. These make good additions to more flavorful cocktails or can be enjoyed on their own—neat or on the rocks.

-Dark rums are also aged for at least a couple years in oak barrels and have the strongest flavor profile.

-For this reason, this is the type of rum used most commonly in cooking, thanks to its rich caramel taste.


Of course, this is an incredibly brief overview of this tasty spirit. We’ll dive more into specifics in later posts so as always, keep an eye out! Thanks for reading and as always...

Cheers from,

Happy Hour City