Bartending, Liquor

Cocktail Chronicles: The History of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy & Rum Swizzle

By Amanda Grosvenor


Amanda Grosvenor

August 16, 2018

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

To celebrate National Rum Day, we’ve got the history of rum and two of its most prolific cocktails: the Dark ‘n’ Stormy and the Rum Swizzle.

A brief history of rum

Some estimates date rum back to the 14th century in the Middle East, but the history of rum we know today is linked to sugar production in the Caribbean in the 17th century. Sugar cane was crushed to produce a juice that was then boiled and cured, resulting in a thick syrup we know as molasses. Originally considered pesky industrial waste (it was dumped into the ocean!), molasses was eventually fermented and distilled—and rum was born.

The history of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy: A tempestuous tale

The canonical Dark ‘n’ Stormy—the deceptively simple, spicy-yet-refreshing combination of dark rum and ginger beer—is often referred to as the national drink of Bermuda, renowned for its havoc-wreaking triangle.

The Bermuda Triangle is a 200-square-mile area considered to be the shipwreck capital of the world, with 300 identified sunken vessels lining its sandy depths (though experts claim the hull-ripping coral reefs are to blame rather than supernatural forces). There is where the Dark ‘n’ Stormy’s origin story begins.

In 1806, John Gosling, of the eventual Goslings Rum, managed to come ashore in Bermuda after 91 tumultuous days at sea and a successful crossing of the fated triangle. He settled on the island for good. Fifty-one years later, his family began producing rum. Through trial and error, Bermudians quickly realized what a perfect marriage could be made between the Gosling’s mahogany-colored rum and the sharp, effervescent ginger soda.

The Dark ‘n’ Stormy navigated it’s way out of the Bermuda Triangle on visiting ships that carried the recipe to places far and wide.

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The history of the Rum Swizzle: Stirred, not shaken

Dating back to the 18th century, the Rum Swizzle is considered equally classic and is just as popular, thanks to the resurgence of tiki bars.

With three times as many ingredients—including two types of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine, and Angostura bitters—it’s a bright, fruity foil to its stormy sister cocktail. But this cocktail is named for the method of making it rather than the ingredients. The original swizzle sticks were created from the branches of a tropical plant native to the Caribbean called the Quararibea turbinata—known colloquially as the swizzlestick tree. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, swizzle sticks were being made out of materials like metal and plastic and were popular with the European elite, including Queen Victoria, who would use them to decrease carbonation in their champagne.

For a true Rum Swizzle experience, you can visit The Swizzle Inn, Bermuda’s oldest pub established in 1932, and purported “home of the Rum Swizzle.”

Now that you know a little more about these two cocktails, learn about other cocktails that will not only delight, but make you money. 



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