Punch up the party: Invite the Captain to your next get-together
Most Caribbean rums stay put on the island where they were born. Clement Rhum wouldn’t think of leaving Martinique nor would Mount Gay Rum abandon Barbados. Not so Captain Morgan Rum. The Captain has been doing some island hopping around the Caribbean, finally settling down in St. Croix.
Captain Morgan Rum—named for Sir Henry Morgan, a Welshman who was a Caribbean buccaneer and later governor of Jamaica—started its life in Jamaica. The Levy brothers, pharmacists in Kingston, created the original recipe for aged spiced rum. In the 1940s, Samuel Bronfman of Seagrams acquired their distillery plus the brother’s secret recipe and called it Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Bronfman’s original label pictured the Captain in his 17th-century, long red pirate’s coat and red hat with gold trim striking a distinct, and now well-known, pose.
Lured by favorable tax breaks, Seagrams moved the rum distillery to Puerto Rico and in 2001 sold Captain Morgan Rum to Diageo, the worldwide alcoholic beverage company. Subsequently, Diageo relocated Captain Morgan once again to the USVI. The move created an epic feud between the USVI and Puerto Rico. However, St. Croix is rejoicing, as it is now home to the second leading rum in the world and the global leader among premium spirits.
But so much for Captain Morgan’s peripatetic side. Let’s discuss the rum’s sociability in mixing with other ingredients, namely its cocktail potential. Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, which is medium-bodied and gets its amber color and distinct richness from its blend of aged dark rums and aging in charred white-oak barrels, is good alone on the rocks or in Caribbean fruit-juice- driven cocktails and punches. Extra aging makes this golden rum (also known as amber rum) especially smooth. Unlike some white rums that need to mask their harshness with Coke or excessive sugar in the mix, this smooth, flavorful rum elevates ingredients and blends nicely with citrus (dark alcohols in general work well with orange). Captain Morgan also works with mint, which accentuates its flavors.
Rum punch is ideal for summer entertaining. It can be prepared in advance and placed in big bowls that require just the addition of ice when guests arrive. Caribbean punch is traditionally served in glass or china cups. Here are recipes for the classic Planter's Punch (it can be multiplied for the number of guests expected) and a favorite Caribbean cocktail: the Mojito.