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The Boat International guide to rum for the Caribbean season

Caribbean season is just around the corner and - as always - rum is the order of the day. Brush up on your punch and master the best rum cocktails with Jonathan Ray's handy guide...

The Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous is always quite an event. There is great sailing and, of course, great socialising.

Naturally enough, on Virgin Gorda, the third-largest of the British Virgin Islands, rum will be the main social lubricant, so expect to knock back plenty of the celebrated BVI cocktail, “the painkiller”. This blend of Pusser’s rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice and a dusting of nutmeg ain’t half bad, although it’s a tad too sweet for constant sluicing.

I would rather have a planter’s punch. It’s sweet, of course, but the lime juice and the Angostura keep it in check. Or there’s the mai tai. A longer version of the daiquiri, it’s gloriously moreish and complex, too, with orange curaçao, apricot brandy and Demerara rum in the mix.

If you want to hit the ground running, though, I’d suggest a zombie, an engine-starting blend of light, golden and Jamaican rum, lime, passion fruit and pineapple juice with a slug of over-proof rum floating on the top. Yikes.

Let’s talk about the classic negroni for a moment. It’s sweet, it’s bitter, it’s orangey and it’s wonderfully invigorating and as good after a meal as it is before. It’s also disarmingly beautiful in its simplicity and ideal for mixing on board, given that it has only three ingredients: gin (Berrys’ No.3 for preference), Campari and sweet red vermouth (I favour the Carpano Antica Formula), served with a slice or zest of orange and lots of ice.

But here’s my advice. Give it a Caribbean twist and swap the gin for some Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum. The rum adds a little something, an elusive note of toffee, vanilla and dark brown sugar that’s cleverly held in check by the bitterness of the Campari. And that bitter Seville orange tang of the Campari echoes the caramelised, candied orange notes of the rum, causing a merry, tongue-tingling dance to be played out in your mouth. It’s an absolute belter of a drink. A negroni, but with the volume turned up to 11.

Rumanomics: How to spend £12,500 on rum

1. One bottle of 1780 Harewood Light Rum, the rarest of rums, imported from Barbados in cask in 1780 and left to age in the cellars of Harewood House before bottling in the early 1800s. hedonism.co.uk

2. 89 bottles of Appleton Estate 21-Year-Old Jamaica Rum, a gloriously rich and flavoursome rum, full of nutmeg, vanilla, almonds and cocoa. thewhiskyexchange.com

3. 232 bottles of 1999 Berrys’ St Lucia Rum, a deliciously intense, spicy and honeyed 12-year-old rum with a long finish of dried fruits, toffee and molasses. bbr.com

4. 253 bottles of Havana Club Selección de Maestros Rum, an excellent barrel-proof rum (45%) from one of the world’s favourite brands. masterofmalt.com

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