Rum & Ginger, Part 1

For some reason I don’t think I’ll make it through all the combinations in a single night, so I’m calling this “Part 1” in anticipation…

After tasting a bunch of ginger ales a few days ago I sat down tonight to make some Rum & Ginger “cocktails.” Is this really a cocktail? No. I guess this is a highball – rum, ginger ale, and a squeeze of lime. Some mixologist will set me right I’m sure.

My favorite of the comparison from the other night was the Stirrings’ Ginger Ale, though this statement has to be taken with some consideration. Not all of the sodas were strictly ginger ales, and some where quite atypical. Reed’s Jamaican style ginger ale was excellent, but I can’t bundle it with a “typical” ginger ale like Schweppes. The Ginger People’s ginger beer was fantastic – again not very typical of a ginger ale. Stirrings’ had the greatest ginger taste of the ales but still wasn’t perfect. I like it a lot, and it’s a high-quality product, but it may prove to still be too extreme in ginger and sweetness to be considered a typical ginger ale…

Over-analyzing and pondering are just my way of procrastinating…

I grabbed 4 rums somewhat at random, and proceeded to mix up some Rum & Ginger highballs. I made them small (does that make them a lowball?) with 1 ounce of rum, 2 ounces of ginger ale, and the closest I could come to 1/8 of a lime, squeezed. Ice, then rum, then lime, finally the ginger ale poured gently to keep the bubbles that I love, and a mild stir. Here we have them:

Appleton V/X & Stirrings’
Good, with a lot of ginger coming through – too much really. The rum is gone in the background. On the second round through these drinks this is still boring. Will the Appleton Extra work, or will that be a bit too smoky or rich, rather than complex?

Cockspur Fine Rum & Stirrings’
The rum comes through a little better, but it’s kinda flat and boring. The tastes aren’t complementing each other, but conflicting in a way that almost balances out. Back for another taste and the rum has receded even more into the background. I was expecting more from this combination, expecting the spice to come through, but it’s too mild. This makes me think that the extra spiciness of the Mount Gay Eclipse or Gosling’s Gold would have been a better choice.

Cruzan Single Barrel & Stirrings’
This works fairly well, with nice flavors coming through from both products, but the Cruzan is a little weak. A little more Cruzan would make this work quite well I’d think. I still agree with this thought on the second round, so I added another 1/2oz of Cruzan. This works fairly well, but not ideal. They don’t really complement each other after all, but rather compete a bit. The barrel doesn’t agree with the ginger.

El Dorado 12 & Stirrings’
This has turned into a different drink. There’s no real experience of ginger, no real experience of rum. Oh, they’re both there underneath, but the tastes have merged into something which simply reminds me of rum and reminds me of ginger.
On the second round through, this is working quite well. Some of the sweetness of the rum is coming out. I’m surprised that the barrel doesn’t compete like the Cruzan does. Everything works together to form a completely new “third” taste. While I like this, I’m fairly surprised by it and I’m not sure what to make of it. I was expecting rum & ginger, and got something new. Interesting…

I’m limed out. My tongue is puckered from less than half a lime. Next time they get barely squeezed, or I just do wedges – or I use fresher limes. I suddenly remember why my days of gin & tonics were short-lived.

The Stirrings’ is a fairly powerful ginger taste – it’s strength make me almost afraid to mix with the Ginger People’s ginger beer. I’m noticing that the Stirrings’ is also fairly sweet. This is not be the best choice for a rum & ginger using lighter rums. It works well with the El Dorado, which is by far the heaviest and richest rum laid out. The other rums are probably better suited to a lighter, dryer ginger ale like the Whole Foods’ 365.

In the end, I finished only the El Dorado mixture. Which is a good thing because pounding down 4 ounces of rum on a work night would not be an intelligent thing to do. But the fact that this one is gone kinda proves the thought that the Stirrings’ need a more powerful rum. I would not think it would go well with dark or extensively aged rums, but rather one from the more powerful golds. The ones that come to mind are Mount Gay Eclipse, Gosling’s Gold, some of the Plantations… Something in that range. The sweetness probably needs to be balanced by a dry rum, so I’d also think about the Kaniche Martinique or Clement VSOP.

This may be premature, but I am debating the thought of removing Stirrings’ ginger ale from my list. Yes, this *is* premature – it just needs the right rum.

More experimentation is needed…


3 Responses to “Rum & Ginger, Part 1”

  1. Dood Says:

    My experience has been that the Appletone V/X can’t really stand up to exceptionally strong flavors, and the Stirrings – as you mentioned – is incredibly strong in the way of the ginger. You’ll probably find a similar result with an Appleton V/X and Reeds Ginger Brew unless you add some weak to it in the form of water or soda. That’s been my experience at least.

    I find that the Appleton V/X needs something more on the sweet and light side like your more typical ginger ales.

  2. Adam Says:

    You wondered if the Appleton Extra’s smokiness would work better than Appleton VX, Ill have to say yes. Both the Extra and the Reserve work wonderfully with ginger and a splash of lime.

    Ive noticed from experience than the Appleton VX is very hard to play with. Its a good gold rum, but doesnt work that great near, doesnt work great with cola or ginger. It does make a decent mojito though!

  3. Scottes Says:

    Interesting observation. V/X was always my chosen rum for years, mixed with Coke of course. But this was many years ago, long before I gained a true appreciation for rum. I will try the Extra based on your comment, when I get to more typical ginger ales. Maybe the barrel/smokiness just doesn’t play well with Stirrings’.

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