Away, away with rum, by gum;
its the song of the Temperance Union.
Whether pirate or prohibitionist, we all know the taste of rum. There is a pure sweet slightly caramel flavour that stays on the tongue. The taste is powerful enough that rum flavoured cakes or rum and raisin ice cream can be made without alcohol and with only a little flavouring.
As an alcoholic drink, rum is unique. The Time-Life book Wines and Spirits calls rum a clean wholesome drink. It is easy to distinguish rum from gins herbal flavour or the smokiness of scotch. Even a fine, aged rum lacks wines complexity.
Rum can be made where sugar is grown and good rums are made throughout the tropics. Indonesia, Maurititius and many other countries make rum but it is best known as a product from the Caribbean.
Rum is one of the easiest alcoholic beverages to ferment and distill. It is made by crushing cane, extracting the juice and boiling it into a thick syrup. This molasses residue is the base for fermenting and distilling rum. While rums differ markedly in colour and strength, darker rums usually have a stronger flavour and caramel colouring.
Rum has always seemed to me to be this seasons most enduring flavour. It is there in the endless loaves of fruitcake, in chocolate rum balls, in those little liquor flavoured candies that are wrapped in gold foil and stuffed into stockings. Perhaps I have too much Dickens in my blood, but I cant imagine a reading of A Christmas Carol without thinking that there might be a hot buttered rum or a sumptuous bowl of eggnog near the fireplace.
There are many recipes for rum toddies and spiked eggnogs. If you are hosting a crowd, you might consider making this one. It is from Seagrams "The Spirit of Hospitalitya Guide to Successful Entertaining that was first published over 25 years ago. I have made slight changes to the recipe but left the comments as they were originally printed.
Eggnog Punch - Canadian Style
(Ideal for cold winters nights parties, and over the Christmas season. Makes enough to provide the festive spirit for 25 people.)
2 dozen eggs.
25 oz of dark rum
50 oz of brandy
2 quarts of 35% cream
2 cups of sugar
a few whole cloves
ground nutmeg to taste
The day before: Mix the brandy, rum, cloves and sugar together. Let this stand covered for 6 hours. Remove the cloves. Separate the whites and yolks. Beat the egg yolks well and add them a little at a time to the liquor. Leave it covered overnight in the refrigerator.
Just before serving:
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add them and the chilled cream separately, a little at a time to the liquor mixture. Dust this with nutmeg. If, at the end of the evening, there is any left over, freeze it for dessert the next day.