Rum's star is on the rise

Sips

July 31, 2002|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Rum may not be as popular these days as in the 18th century, when consumption in the American Colonies was said to average about four gallons per person each year.

But this storied brew of sugar cane and water is pleasing an increasing number of palates these days. The Beverage Journal reports that rum was the fastest-growing segment of the spirits category last year, selling some 50,000 gallons more than it had five years before.

Some of this popularity is fueled by flavored rums, including products featuring vanilla, coconut, banana, pineapple and other flavors. There's even a mojito rum featuring mint and lime to capitalize on the flavors of a classic rum cocktail.

Another reason for rum's increasing visibility is a new interest in well-made, well-aged rums. At the Joy America Cafe in the American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway, rum drinkers can order a flight of three rums to sample. Michael Aylward, the restaurant's general manager, says the rums are chosen to allow patrons to compare and contrast rums.

For instance, a flight might highlight different vintages from the same distiller, say a 5-year-old rum, a 10-year-old and a 15-year-old. Or it could contrast rums of the same vintage from different distillers. A flight can cost $10 to $15, depending on the rums included.

Aylward says the restaurant is seeing more interest in fine rum and that for some diners a good rum, or even a warmed rum in a snifter, is rivaling cognac or single-malts as an after-dinner drink.

But for many rum fans, summer doesn't get much better than the sight of a glorious sunset, the feel of a cool breeze and the taste of a fresh, minty mojito.

Mojito

Serves 1

4 sprigs of fresh mint (divided use)

2 teaspoons sugar

juice of 1/2 lime

crushed ice

1 1/4 ounces rum

club soda

lime wedge for garnish

In a highball glass, combine 3 sprigs of mint with the sugar and lime juice. Muddle (or mash) the ingredients together with a pestle, muddler or the back of a spoon until they become almost a paste. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add the rum and top off with club soda.

Pour the mixture into a cocktail shaker, shake well until the mint is suspended throughout the mixture and return the drink to the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.

-- Joy America Cafe

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