The Possibilities are Endless with this Sunset-Hued Favorite
The Prohibition era of the United States may have stymied the legal production and distribution of alcohol and spirits, but it was a boon for the underground bootlegging trade. Those who smuggled the still-very-much-in-demand contraband by boat, particularly off the coast of Florida and to the islands of The Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean, were referred to as rum runners, as this was the preferred drink of the region. It still is, with dozens of styles of rum produced and used throughout the islands as the centerpiece of all kinds of cocktails and concoctions.
The actual rum runner cocktail is named for these speakeasy smugglers, in homage to the pivotal role they played in the extremely big business of forbidden booze. The name is apropos, given the drink was first created in Islamorada in the Florida Keys, which was one of the main touch points of rum running operations and the epitome of the tropical vibe the fresh fruit and juice bring to the palate. It also encompasses the sheer scope and spirit of these operations nationwide, as smugglers would “run” rum of all kinds, as well as fine whiskey, imported champagne and anything else they could transport in the hidden compartments on their boats.
This cocktail is all that and more. And there is no wrong way to enjoy it, which makes for a creative Thirsty Thursday! The basics are light and dark rum, as well as a high-proof rum float or Chambord. Fresh fruit juices include pineapple and orange, plus banana liqueur and one other fruit liqueur, often blackberry or other berry of choice. The preparation is also left to the bartender’s or drinker’s discretion – blended daiquiri-style or shaken over ice. Garnish with orange slices or your favorite tropical fruit and enjoy.
As the ingredients can vary according to preference, so can the appearance of this sweet libation, manifesting any number of colors you might find in a Caribbean sunset. Get creative with your rum runner cocktails this week and find your favorite blend of island flavors.
Rum Runner Cocktail Basics
1 oz. light rum
1 oz. dark or aged rum
1 oz. high-proof rum
1 oz. banana liqueur
1 oz. blackberry liqueur
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1 oz. fresh lime juice (optional)
Splash of grenadine
Shake all ingredients except the high-proof rum together with ice and pour into a hurricane glass. Float the high-proof rum over the top and garnish with fresh fruit.
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