Dark ‘n’ Stormy Version 2.0, the lighter side

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Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Version 2.0

2 parts Flor de Cana Extra Dry White Rum

3/4 part Giffard Citrus Green Tea Syrup

Juice of half a lemon

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Top with Penpont ginger beer

 Shake all the ingredients, except for the ginger beer, with ice and single strain over crushed ice. Crown with ginger beer. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Dark n' Stormy V.2

History of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail

[As Told by Rum Ahoy! and we tend agree]

As with pretty much all rum history, the story of dark rum and ginger comes from sailors.

Sailors and rum go hand in hand. In the 1800s it was standard practice for the British Royal Navy to allocate rum rations to sailors, and the rum sourced from their various bases on Caribbean rum-producing islands such as Bermuda.

In the later 1860s the Gosling Brothers rum distillery in Bermuda began marketing its “old rum” – a heavy blend of dark rums which eventually became the Gosling’s Black Seal marketed today.

Meanwhile, the British Royal Navy had a dockyard on Ireland Island in Bermuda, which had been around since 1809. (Interesting sidenote: Bermuda cedar was valued in shipbuilding as it was durable and resistant to shipworm, was plentiful in supply on the island and did not need seasoning like the oak from which many ships in the United Kingdom were made.) As the dockyard grew it acquired many specialist buildings including a hospital, theater, cinema, canteen and officers’ club.

Royal Navy Bermuda Dockyard 1920s

Where it all began? The British Royal Navy dockyard in Bermuda, 1920s

Originating in England, ginger beer was brought to the Caribbean via the English colonists. William John Barritt came to Bermuda from England and in 1874 opened a dry goods shop on the corner of Front & King Streets in Hamilton, with a small mineral water bottling machine in the back room. This is where the Bermuda’s now-famous Barritt’s Ginger Beer first started (and is still going, five generations later).

Sometime in the late 1800s or very early 1900s the Royal Navy had also added a ginger beer plant to the Dockyards complex. What exactly the navy was doing brewing ginger beer I don’t know. Ginger is a well-known tonic for seasickness; perhaps it was for new recruits to help them find their ‘sea legs’? Or perhaps it was an attempt to wean sailors off of heavy rum-drinking.

In any event we also know that rum was imported in 55 gallon casks and dispensed in a British-style public house on the Navy’s dockyards site. Whether it first actually happened in that Navy pub or elsewhere on the island, it seems inevitable that both rum and ginger beer would at some point be combined in a classic “two great tastes that taste great together” moment.

It’s likely that the mix of rum & ginger beer was made with Gosling’s dark rum as it was the popular locally available rum. Goslings has since trademarked the name Dark ‘n’ Stormy to keep some degree of official ownership over the cocktail.

As for the name itself, it is said to have originated when a sailor, holding up the dark-cloud-in-a-glass beverage, observed that the drink was the “colour of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under”.

Once discovered and so named, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy spread by way of sailing channels up and down the east coast of the US, brought home by various sailors who frequented Bermuda. Many bars in US east coast port towns will have the Dark ‘n’ Stormy on their drinks menu.

Written by

Bartender Extraordinaire

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