Dark and Stormy

I have become very fond of dark rum lately.  Whether poured over ice to be leisurely sipped or mixed with any number of fruit juices, rum is the quintessential summer liquor, light and refreshing.  With this new-found love, I’ve spent some time searching for a rum-based cocktail to enjoy this summer.  And over this past weekend, I found one: the Dark and Stormy.

The Dark and Stormy, like many American libations, traces back to our British cousins.  According to David Wondrich, my favorite cocktail historian (oft-quoted on this blog),  the British Navy’s practices of rum rationing and ginger beer bottling were ultimately responsible for the Dark and Stormy’s creation.

Wondrich writes:  “What is known is the following.  By the mid-nineteenth century, the official daily rum ration of the British Royal Navy consisted of 2 ounces a head of a peculiarly heavy blend of dark rums, dominated by the deeply funky stuff made along the Demerara River in Guyana.  Some time after 1860, Gosling Bros., of Hamilton, Bermuda, began marketing its “old rum” — a peculiarly heavy blend of dark rums.  Between 1860 and 1920, the Royal Navy added a ginger-beer bottling plant to its massive Ireland Island Dockyards complex; what the navy was doing bottling ginger beer we don’t know, unless it was intended as a temperance measure.  If it was, it failed:  The swabbies, given the choice between Demon rum and temperance beverage, said, ‘Fanx, gov, we’ll take both.’”

Both indeed.  The drink’s mixture of dark rum and ginger beer suits my cocktailing skills and tastes alike.  It’s a simple drink to make, necessitating only a few, easy-to-find ingredients, and it requires no advanced bartending apparatuses, techniques, or glassware.  (I am admittedly a lazy bartender.)  The cocktail’s flavors are complex and complimentary and juxtapose each other to create a perfect remedy to summer’s oppressing heat.

The recipe is simple – it comes from sailors, after all.  In a tall soda (or Collins) glass filled with ice, add an ounce or two of dark rum (depending on taste), then top off with ginger beer.  And if you like, squeeze a little lime juice in.

The Dark and Stormy is alleged to be Bermuda’s Official Drink and has recently gained popularity in the states by way of East Coast sailing clubs.  But the cocktail is no longer enjoyed only by islanders or those with a penchant for Sperry Topsiders.  Order one whenever you’re outside and want a fresh, relaxed drink with which to soak up sunny summer weather, even if you’re a good old fashioned land lubber like me.


Up next tomorrow:  A particularly non-British variation on the Dark and Stormy, requiring a slightly more advanced bartending technique called “floating.”

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 9:50 am  Comments (8)  
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  1. looks tasty – i’ll have to try it soon

  2. Yo THF!

    Quite a timely review… I LOVE THIS DRINK! First had it in Camden, Maine at Cappy’s Chowder House (a fine accompaniment went to my uber cheap and delicious Maine Lobster Dinner). Then I had it in Bermuda. Great stuff and like you said, simple to make. If you can find it, use Barrit’s Ginger Beer and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum to get that authentic Bermuda flavor.


    • I think THF and G-lo may have been separated at birth or drunk minds think a like …. we were just talking about summer cocktails and the Dark and Stormy came up.

      • Drunk, brilliant minds, you mean – haha! And, if you like today’s post, be sure to check out tomorrow’s.

      • I wouldn’t miss it!

  3. Good call. Took a trip to Bermuda a few years ago, was introduced to the drink, and loved it. I think the Gosling’s rum is the key.

  4. I love the dark & stormy, but have a question for the experts. I have had it served two ways. One as in this post, and one with the beer poured first and the rum floated on top. This way the beer is presented with a dark half on the top and a stormy half on bottom. This second way certainly looks more appealing and just seems right but has to be mixed by the drinker in order to taste half way decent. Is there a right and wrong way to mix this drink?

    • Interesting comment Josh! I’ve only had the Dark and Stormy prepared traditionally, but the way you described definitely scores points for presentation – it does sound much better looking. However, I’d say that if you have to sacrifice taste for appearance, stick with the ugly D&S so you aren’t drinking all the rum right away. It should be the bartender mixing the drink.

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