It may seem strange that National Rum Day falls right in the middle of summer, since the sugarcane spirit has a warming quality generally associated with the winter months. But, well, the "holiday" falls on a Friday in August, and who are we to argue?
In fact, as rum expert (yes, that's a real job, kiddies) Kim Haasarud explains to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, rum is perfect for tropical drinks. The spirit's popularity "goes back to the 1700s, with sailors and pirates, and used to be one of the most prolific spirits out there," she says, nothing that rum is undergoing a "big resurgence." (If you're looking for serious history of rum, then Mental Floss has you covered.)
It is not clear when National Rum Day started, or by whom. It appears to have been celebrated in the last several years. Similar holidays exist for bourbon, gin and vodka.
Our friends in the Midwest really have this National Rum Day thing covered; Chicagoist has an excellent "rum primer" explaining the different types of rum, which may prove extremely useful as you pull up to the bar in celebration of this boozy holiday:
Light rum is light in color but not necessarily light in flavor. There are some beautiful dry white rum’s in the market that are very light and refreshing. There are others that can be a bit on the funky side.
Aged rums (sometimes known as gold rum or amber rum) are barrel aged (usually in former bourbon oak barrels) and take on the wood and vanilla flavors from the barrel.
Dark rums are also barrel aged (although in more charred barrels) and are often heavy, intense, and can pack a lot of punch. There are excellent examples of dark rums from Jamaica and the "Demerara" dark rums from Guyana.
Of course, you don't want to embarrass yourself by ordering a rum-and-Coke, especially not tonight. That's why the Caribbean Journal has a fine round-up of rum cocktails, of which our favorite is the Kittitian Rum Punch:
1 oz local rum
Splash of orange Juice
Splash of pineapple Juice
Dash of grenadine
½ oz Bacardi 151
Garnish with nutmeg, orange slice or pineapple wedge
While you're sipping that, we suggest you enjoy Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary, his fictionalized account of playing journalist down in Puerto Rico. The novel is not really about rum, but then again, we are talking about a fake holiday here. There is also Rum: A Global History by Richard Foss.
Or maybe you just want to kick back on your porch or fire escape or stoop with a mojito. Whatever the case, bottoms up.
Photo of bottles of rum: AP Photo/Eric Risberg.