Forget the too-sweet daiquiris, piña coladas and cuba libres that you associate with a certain type of beach vacation. Dominican export Brugal makes dry, sophisticated rums that deserve a lighter touch – and a second look.
Brugal was founded in 1888 by Andrés Brugal Montaner, and the family remains heavily involved to this day, with the company’s chairman and most of its board members being comprised of descendants of Don Andrés. The brand grew through the 20th century, and, thanks to distribution in the United States, Canada and Europe, Brugal is currently a major Caribbean export.
For an experience that is indeed miles away from the traditional (for better or worse) rum cocktail, I recommend Brugal 1888. Named for the year the company started, this dry spirit (new for 2012) is aged in wood casks for a distinctive flavor. Rum-o-philes recommend drinking this one as you would a whisky or Scotch: Neat or on the rocks so that its delicate flavors can unfold on the palate. Most well-stocked bars have a good bottle of single malt but how many have a good bottle of rum? We’re adding this to our list for out-of-the-box bar gift.
For a refreshing summer drink, on or off the beach, few quaffs beat the minty mojito. We made ours using Brugal Blanco Especial and their proprietary recipe (see below). Rather than soda, the recipe calls for ginger ale, not a bad idea at all considering the natural rapport of rum and ginger in a Dark & Stormy. Too balance out the extra sweetness from the ginger ale we recommend only one tablespoon of simple syrup as opposed to the standard two – and you can easily forego the simple syrup all together if you wish.
Gin has its stalwart supporters, whisky its devoted diehards – even tequila has an outspoken contingent. We think it’s time to take another look at rum. As far as we’re concerned, any spirit that counted serious drinkers like Hemingway among its fans can’t be written off that easily. Here are a few cocktail recipes designed to change your opinion of the sugar-cane derived drink:
1 ½ oz. Brugal Blanco Especial Rum
8 to 10 Fresh Mint Leaves
Half a Lime
1 Tbsp. Simple Syrup
Using a muddler or spoon, crush mint leaves and squeeze lime in a tall glass. Cover with simple syrup and fill glass with ice. Add rum. Fill glass with ginger ale. Mix all ingredients. Garnish with mint.
2 oz. Brugal Blanco Especial Rum
¾ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
½ oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
½ oz. Maraschino liqueur
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with lime.