Barbados: The Rum Island

In “Barbados, The Rum Island” (Forbes) Anthony De Marco writes about rum in the Caribbean, claiming that the first commercially distilled variation of rum is believed to have occurred in Barbados in 1637, coinciding with the rise of the sugarcane industry, the source of rum, and the backbone of its economy well into the 20th century. He also believes that Barbados has the best variety of rum drinks, including the best rum punch. De Marco reports on his findings at the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (held November 16-19).

Mount Gay Distilleries, founded in 1703, distills the oldest existing brand of rum in the world (Mount Gay Rum). It is also the best known of the rum distilleries on the island. [. . .] Chesterfield Browne [. . .] is the international brand ambassador and mixologist of Mount Gay Rum. [. . .] Browne created holiday drinks using traditional Christmas season herb and spices as well as Bajan (Barbadian) spices and liquor. He made five traditional western and Caribbean holiday drinks, made sure everyone in the audience had a taste of each, ran well-over his hour time allotment and still wanted more time to finish. He made one drink from the red flowers of the sorrel plant, which grows throughout the Caribbean, along with ginger, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, whole cloves, brown sugar and rum.

He also made a Christmas rum punch that included traditional herbs and a Bajan drink called Falernum, a sweet liquor believed to be invented in Barbados that is used in Caribbean and tropical drinks. It has the flavors of almond, ginger and/or cloves, and lime, and sometimes vanilla or allspice. He also made a traditional American holiday drink made with rum and cognac, “Tom and Jerry,” which also used eggs, nutmeg and vanilla. Other traditional Bajan drinks he made were a “Corn and Oil” (made of rum, Falernum and fresh lime juice, and a “Punch-Of-Cream,” which uses condensed and evaporated milk, Ponche Kuba (a Caribbean rum cream similar to Irish creams) and, of course, rum.

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