The 8 mistakes people make when buying, ordering, and drinking rum — and what to do instead
- Bacardi's Global Brand Ambassador Dickie Cullimore told us all of the things people do wrong when buying, ordering, and drinking rum.
- He said you should always order a drink off a bar menu, as it showcases the skills of the bartenders.
- When in doubt, a daiquiri is a good way to tell how good the bar staff is.
- Your drink should also always be packed with ice.
- Don't assume a spiced rum is stronger — and don't judge a rum by its colour.
Whether it's whisky, gin, or wine, there's plenty to know when it comes to buying or serving booze — especially when summer time rolls around.
In the season of daiquiris and mojitos, Business Insider spoke to Dickie Cullimore, Global Brand Ambassador for Bacardi, to get some answers to everything rum-related.
Cullimore, a Kiwi working in New Zealand, has worked for the brand for over seven years, and has been Brand Ambassador for the past three.
An advocate for the education of rum, spirits, and cocktails, he is also one of the driving forces behind the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition, the biggest branded cocktail competition on the planet. He was headed to Mexico City for this year's competition when we spoke.
This year has also brought about the launch of Bacardi's two new rums — its An~ejo Cuatro premium rum, which has flavours of vanilla, oak, clove, and honey and is barrel aged for at least four years under the Caribbean sun, and its Gran Reserva Diez, which is aged for 10 years.
Aside from not realising how rum is made — "it's a bit loose and free with its rules at times, but all rums are aged undisturbed in the tropical sun," according to Cullimore — there are plenty of other things people get wrong about the spirit.
Here are the 8 mistakes people making when buying, ordering, and drinking rum, according to Cullimore.
1. Not thinking about where and when they'll be drinking it
"Rum is so versatile and extremely diverse," Cullimore said. "There's a rum for every occasion."
He added that it's not as "steeped in rules" as some spirits like whisky, which leaves more room for experimentation — but can also make it hard to know what to buy or order.
"Think about where and when you'll be enjoying it," he said. "If it's a hot day, in my mind the most refreshing thing is the mojito. If you want to sip and savour, go for something bold or aged."
2. Going for the cheapest rum over the trusted one
According to Cullimore, the rules around rum are quite loose, to a cheap bottle can look very different from country to country.
To make sure you end up with something decent, he said you should start with something you're familiar with — that you're confident buying, ordering, or serving at home.
"Instead of picking the cheapest rum, pick a rum you trust, that's authentic or established," he said. "You might only be spending a pound or two more to get something that's quite reasonable — spend a fraction more to get something you trust and you know you'll enjoy."
3. Ordering off-menu
"When people walk into a bar, they often look around to see what other people are drinking — the obvious cocktails, beer, wine, or simple mixers," Cullimore said. "People are scared of making a wrong decision."
To make sure you end up with something tasty but a bit more adventurous, he said you should always look at the menu.
"These are the things the bar is confident and comfortable making, so you'll get an idea of their capabilities," he said.
4. Ignoring the bartender
Building a report with the server or bartender can go a long way, according to Cullimore.
"Ask them, 'What rum drinks do you enjoy making or drinking?' or 'Make something refreshing with this rum.' Put the ownership of it into their hands and they can be excited about making it."
5. Assuming spiced rum is stronger
Spiced rum has a rum base — whether it's light or heavy, white or dark — with added flavour and spices, such as peppers, chillis, or aromatics like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, honey, or more added sugar, according to Cullimore. It also often has an ABV below 37.5%.
"It's great as a simple mixer and can be wonderfully refreshing," he said, adding that it's targeted at the younger generation from legal drinking age to the age of 25. "It's an entry point into the category," he said.
6. Judging a rum by its colour
It's hard to define what makes a white, gold, or dark rum, according to Cullimore.
"There's a lot of difference between rums, whether they be white, gold, or dark," he said. "With rum, you've got variants and versatility.
He added that to understand a spirit, you need to know where it's made.
"Even with whites, there are massive variants of use. A white rum can be dry, light, and citrus fruit-forward, but then white rums produced in Jamaica could be super intense and bold.
"The colour is not the best or only clue to unlock what's in the bottle," he added. For example, a white rum with caramel colouring will become a dark rum.
7. Not using enough ice
Like with most boozy beverages, Cullimore's one major tip is to use as much ice as possible — unless it's a hot drink, that is.
"If it's a Mojito, make sure it's packed with crushed ice," he said. "It's the same with a Cube Libre (rum and coke) — the more ice you have, the colder the drink stays.
"The colder the drink stays, the longer it takes to dilute."
8. If in doubt, order a daiquiri
"If you're ever unsure, order a classic daiquiri," he said, adding that a good daiquiri — one of the best selling cocktails in the world in 2018 — is a sign of a good bartender, as they need to understand temperature and balance. "It's simple perfection."
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