Dark and Stormy Craft Rum Box

Classic Iconic - The Cuba Libre and the Dark ‘N Stormy

How do you mix your rum?

Some of you may like to sip it from the rocks to really explore the flavour, but there is a whole wealth of mixing available for those that like your drinks a little softer or like to get creative. And there is a whole spectrum of mixing drinks. Drinks enthusiasts and bartenders spend years learning how to mix drinks and make incredible recipes including all sorts of rare and wonderful ingredients in just the right measure. But, for some of us, it’s all about the simple serve. Well, this article is for you. Here we explore the history behind two of rums more simple, yet still iconic serves, the Cuba Libre and the Dark ‘N Stormy. Why don’t you fix one up before we begin? It shouldn’t take long.

Cuba Libre

Craft Rum Box Cubra Libra Cocktail

The Cuba Libre is one of the simplest serves out there. And so much so, I didn’t even realise it had a title. For years I drank rum and cokes in pubs not realising I was actually drinking Cuba Libres! Move over Juliet, apparently a rose by any other name can indeed actually smell much sweeter. Asking for a Cuba Libre is so much more exotic and interesting than asking for a ‘rum and coke’ from your local boozer. So, let's start by taking a look at where the name comes from.

As almost always, I must state that origin stores are tricky. There are often more than one story and it is certainly the case with this drink! What we do know is that Cuba Libre means ‘Free Cuba’ and the drink came about in the early 1900s, just after the Spanish-American war of 1898. At the time ‘Cuba Libre’ was a slogan for the Cuban independence movement and it’s interesting to note that it came about around the time the US began importing Coca-Cola into Cuba, and that the drink is made by mixing a US export, with a Cuban one, rum. And, it is said the first Cuba Libre was made with Barcardi.

This claim comes from Fausto Rodriguez, a Barcadi advertising executive, who claimed, even officially via an affidavit, that as a fourteen year old, he was working as a messenger for the US Army, and was based in Havana. Apparently his employer ordered a Barcadi and Coca-Cola, which a group of nearby American soldiers found interesting enough to order a round of themselves. His affidavit was published in Life Magazine many years later than the event in 1966. As you can imagine, his position with Barcardi naturally led to some doubt in the story's integrity.

There were other stories, and it’s hard to pin anything down as certain. However, the simplicity of rum, Coca-Cola and lime meant that the drink spread quickly in popularity. People love a simple serve and not only was it simple, with ingredients that could be found easily, it was also delicious. It became particularly popular during the US prohibition era as Coca-Cola was good at masking badly made spirits. Being such a longstanding drink, there are all sorts of other snippets of related history. It’s a really interesting drink and well worth reading up on.

And is there a particular way to make this drink? Well, traditionally it was made with Barcadi white rum and Coca-Cola, with lime. White rum was often used as it was felt that white rum mixed a lot better than it’s more funky, darker counterparts. However, you can go to town experimenting however you like. I’ve even known people have a session on the same rum, with different colas to see how it works. There’s many more colas on the market nowadays, and some with an extra flavour element to them. So you can have all the fun experimenting with that all important research.

Dark ‘N Stormy

Craft Rum Box Rum Cocktail

The Dark ‘N Stormy is another cocktail with an interesting history. The dark and stormy is another simple serve. Think of a Cuba Libre, but exchange Coca-Cola for ginger beer and you’ve got it! It apparently got its name from a sailor who compared the colour to the dark and stormy skies of bermuda, notorious weather that led to the sinking of many ships in the area. The rum is the ‘dark’ and the ginger is the ‘stormy’. There are three hundred identified shipwrecks in the area, making it known as the shipwreck capital of the world, although that is apparently more likely caused by coral reefs, than storms or myths of supernatural phenomena.

Despite this, in 1806, a ship called the Mercury managed to avoid the reefs and land on the shores of Bermuda, bringing with it a man called James Gosling, who settled on the island. By 1857, the Gosling family had become somewhat prominent and began making rum. Ginger beer was also being made on the island, and was a common drink due to its capacity to ease stomach complaints of seasick sailors. It was only a matter of time before they were put together, and with that the Dark ‘N Stormy became the unofficial drink of Bermuda.

Nowadays, the drink is widely drunk on the island. But do be careful, Goslings Black Seal Navy Rum hold a patent as to how exactly you make the drink, and it means using their rum. They have done since 1991 and it originally involved a ginger beer called Barrits, but at one point the company parted ways and Gosling created their own ginger beer to use instead. Interestingly, Gosling’s have registered the trademark with one apostrophe (Dark ‘N Stormy) and the International Bartender’s Association uses two (Dark ‘N’ Stormy), so if you’re wondering who’s your drinking then the clue is in the name! And yes, it was difficult to know what one to run with for this article. I went with the Goslings one, as they are historically linked to the drink for longer than the IBA.

So, does this mean you can make a Dark AND Stormy at home with whatever rum you like? I wouldn’t dare to say. However, in looking up the IBA recipe online, that also suggests it needs to be made with Goslings Black Seal rum, so that’s a little confusing too. One thing I will say, is I first discovered this drink in a bar I worked in years ago and they used Goslings. However, I’m quite partial to a rum and ginger beer with whatever I have to make it with at home.

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Bernadette Pamplin

Bernadette loves rum. She set up a gin focused blog Under The Ginfluence eight years ago. Since then, her passion has naturally spread from gin, to rum and other spirits too. You can find work from her on Gin Magazine, Distiller Magazine, and Spirits Beacon, as well as content for  The Gin Guide.

She’s also the editor of Rum’s the Word, writing articles on rums featured in the box, as well as other rum related topics. Bernadette has built up six years experience in judging for events like Gin of the Year, World Gin Awards, Spirits Business Awards, Gin Guide Awards, IWSC and the American Distilling Institute Judging of Craft Spirits and works behind the scenes, assisting with organising and participating in panels for the Craft Distilling Expo.