Rum is one of the most popular spirits in the entire world, and National Rum Day is a great opportunity for rum enthusiasts to enjoy new and interesting varieties and flavors each year on August 16th.
In this article, I will break down the history of rum, as well as the history of National Rum Day. I’ll also highlight some of my favorite recipes for rum-based cocktails, as well as the best hotspots around the United States to celebrate the holiday.
History of Rum and National Rum Day
The history of rum production can be traced all the way back to the 7th century in India. It is made by fermenting sugarcane and has a distinct sweet aftertaste. By the 16th century, there was a massive demand for quality rum around the world, and countries like Brazil began distilling rum on an industrial scale.
1650 marked the first officially recorded shipment of rum to the American colonies, and within 10 years it was common practice to use rum for trading in the colonies. By the late 1600s, the Royal British Navy began the practice of giving sailors a daily portion of rum at the end of each day.
Around the same time, pirates had developed a strong reputation for drinking excessive amounts of rum while on expeditions. It is rumored that the pirate captain Blackbeard would drink rum mixed with gunpowder after lighting it ablaze to intimidate his enemies.
In 1733, the British Government enacted The Molasses Act, which increased the taxes associated with importing molasses to the American colonies. This led to a much higher production rate of rum domestically within the colonies.
At the time that the Industrial Revolution swept through the Western world, distillation methods became much more efficient and it was possible to produce higher quality rum than ever before on a large scale.
During the period of alcohol prohibition in the United States, rum became a popular drink for smugglers. It was easy to get rum across the US border from countries in the Caribbean like Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Barbados.
Today, rum is as popular as ever and available just about everywhere spirits are sold. There are many different high-end artisanal selections, as well as flavored rums that became popular in the 1990s and 2000s.
While there are many conflicting reports regarding the exact origins of National Rum Day, it is clear that it began sometime in the early 2000s. Rum producers and bar owners alike have embraced the holiday, and it is often marked with special releases and drink specials.
Celebrating National Rum Day in 2023
While National Rum Day is not an officially recognized holiday by the government of the United States, there are still many places where the Rum Day celebrations are large and festive. Many beach bars and restaurants offer drink specials, and some cities are better known than others for their celebrations.
Miami, Florida is a great place to celebrate National Rum Day, as the area has a deep and rich history when it comes to rum culture. There are many different rum distilleries around town, and nearly all of them offer drink specials.
Another great city that is known for holding significant celebrations for National Rum Day is New Orleans, Louisiana. It is no secret that New Orleans knows how to throw a party, and there are many drink specials that can be found on both Bourbon and Frenchmen streets on August 16th.
Celebrating National Rum Day in 2024
While it is still a bit early for official National Rum Day 2024 plans to be announced, it is safe to assume that the cities with the strongest rum cultures will continue to be the best places to celebrate. Miami and New Orleans are the best choices in the continental US, and San Juan, Puerto Rico also throws fantastic Rum Day parties every year.
Recipes for Rum Cocktails
One of the most simple and refreshing rum-based cocktails in the world is the Mojito, which is always made with light rum. Freshly muddled mint leaves and lime juice add a pop of freshness to the drink, and agave or simple syrup can be added for those who prefer sweeter drinks.
The Piña Colada is another refreshing rum-based beverage that is perfect for enjoying on the beach or outdoors on a hot day. It is made with a combination of pineapple juice and coconut milk, as well as a variety of different rum styles depending on the exact recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Difference Between Light and Dark Rum?
After sugarcane is distilled to make rum, the end result is a clear spirit that is most often referred to as “light rum” or “white rum.” Aged rum is placed in oak barrels, where flavor and pigment are imparted over time from the tannins in the wood.
What is the Shelf Life on an Opened Bottle of Rum?
While the high levels of alcohol in rum will help keep it from turning once opened, the taste and quality will slowly deteriorate once exposed to oxygen. In general, it is best to finish a bottle of rum within a month or two after opening, though rum can stay good for up to 2 years once opened.
Where Does the Best Rum Come From?
The majority of the best rum in the world is produced in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico produces very large quantities of rum, though the island of Barbados is well known for making some of the highest quality rum in the world.
National Rum Day takes place on August 16th of every year, and it is a great way for rum enthusiasts and industry professionals to celebrate everything the spirit has to offer. Many rum distilleries offer discounts and special rum flavors to commemorate the holiday each year, and there are plenty of drink specials to be had at bars.
I have personally mixed hundreds of rum-based cocktails for customers, and have celebrated the holiday multiple times! Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any great Rum Day celebrations taking place in 2023 or 2024!