Rum has always had a distinctly American swagger. It is untutored and proud of it, raffish, often unkempt, and a little bit out of control. The history of rum tends toward the ignoble, many times pleasingly so. . . . Rum, in short, has been one of those rare objects in which America has invested its own image. Like moonglow, the life of America is reflected back in each incarnation of rum.
So rum is an American drink? Don’t tell that to our desi socialist revolutionaries, who have fought many a battle and sustained revolutionary spirit on the strength of rum!
Jonathan Yardley reviews a new book by Wayne Curtis entitled A Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. Interesting read, both the review and the book. Here is a snippet from the review to make you rumbustious:
Rum is essentially an accident. On 17th-century sugar plantations in the Caribbean, “sugar wastes were considerable,” chief among them molasses. Eventually, someone figured out that molasses combined with other ingredients could produce a potent if rather vile alcoholic drink that came to be called rum, perhaps as “a truncated version of rumbullion or rumbustion ,” both of which “were British slang for ‘tumult’ or ‘uproar,’ ” which, as Curtis puts it, conjures up images of “fractious islanders cracking one another over the head in rumbustious entanglements at island tippling houses.” Its most common name, though, was “Kill-devil,” the precise origins of which are unclear, but a name that suggests its potency and its power to make trouble.