Taking a couple key ingredients at a time from our previous post “How to Stock Your Home Bar“, we’ll explore the various drinks you can make and how much the quality of the ingredients really matters.
We all know the price difference between the top and bottom shelf at the liquor store, but how much does it really matter? Do you need to be a connoisseur to taste the difference? Can you tell in drinks with a lot of other ingredients?
For this week’s post, we chose two of my favorite ingredients: Rum & Limes. Based on the “How to Stock Your Home Bar” post, limes are an absolute staple of your home bar. Rum is as well, but choosing which rum to keep in stock may be a challenge as many drinks separate between white, gold, dark and aged rums.
We played around with three different rums throughout the drinks: A cheap white rum (Cruzan), a cheap gold rum (Bacardi), and a good blended aged dark rum (Zaya). There is a pretty large gap in quality there, as the Zaya is over double the price of the other two.
We tried this with both a cheap light/white rum (Cruzan) and a good dark rum (Zaya).
With the sweetness of the simple syrup and the tartness of the lime, it was tough to tell much of a difference between the two. The version with the better rum was noticeably better, but my recommendation here would be to stick with the traditional cheap white rum as the taste difference was not worth the price difference especially where the traditional expectation here is for the white rum.
The Captain’s Blood (See the recipe here) usually adds dark rum instead of light/white rum in addition to Angostura bitters. This added a nice complexity that allowed us to compare the cheap gold rum (Bacardi) to the more expensive dark/aged rum (Zaya).
We were a little surprised by the results. While the bitters added a nice complexity, we appreciated it more with the cheaper rum, probably because the cheaper rum lacked complexity in the first place. We actually wished we hadn’t added it with the better rum, as it masked some of the complexity and vanilla/caramel taste that was already there.
All in all, I’d recommend the expensive rum here, but would tune the other ingredients down to not take away from the rum. A perfectly valid alternative is to use the cheaper rum and go nuts with the bitters!
The Brookstone is a variation of the Captain’s Blood, found on the Perfect Drink app I’ve mentioned before. the only difference is that it swaps simple syrup for maple syrup.
Based on our previous findings, we used only the Zaya on this one, and played with the Maple Syrup versus simple syrup.
The difference was subtle, but we noticed that the simple syrup brought out the lime flavor, while the maple syrup brought out the really nice vanilla/caramel flavor in the rum without imparting any noticeable maple flavor. This was well worth it. I’ll be keeping maple syrup on hand from now on, as it will be interesting to play with in the future where simple syrup is called for.