TRANSITION SUMMER TO FALL WITH RUM!
September is an enigma, especially in the South. Nights and early mornings can get chilly, but days are still scorchers. It’s a month for wearing layers. It follows Atlanta’s rainiest month and precedes the driest. In astronomical terms (based on solstices and equinoxes), it falls half in summer and half in autumn. In meteorological terms, Sept. 1 is the start of fall. Even if you can’t figure out what to wear or what season it technically is, we know what’s perfect to drink: rum.
A byproduct of sugar production, rum is distilled from fermented sugarcane or derivatives such as molasses, cane sugar or cane syrup. White rum is clean and dry, and aged in steel or natural oak. Gold rum, like its name, is golden in color and richer in flavor and sweetness. Dark rum, made from molasses, ranges from amber to very dark brown. Materials used, type of barrel, where it is produced and length of aging all affect the variety and quality of the finished product.
The best drinks keep seasonal ingredients in mind, but what season is September? It’s the season of rum. Let it help you sip through the seasonal transition.
A Painkiller is tropical to the core. “While tiki drinks are perfect for any time of year, it’s great for hot weather because it is so easy to drink,” says Southbound’s Abbey Sanders. “It’s juicy, refreshing and crushable.” Her technique is to combine a blend of light and dark rums, orange juice, coconut liqueur, lime juice and pineapple juice. “Shake it up and throw it in a tiki mug,” she says.
Embrace the rainy days with a Dark & Stormy. The simple mix of dark rum and ginger beer with a jolt of lime is inextricably linked to Bermuda and England’s Royal Navy. Rum was ubiquitous, and the Navy opened a ginger beer plant at the turn of the 20th century. When it rains, seek out the refreshing highball from the secret menu at Battle and Brew, where they spice up their version with ginger kombucha.
As seasons shift from summer’s fiery energy to the chillness of autumn, look no further than to a minimalist classic for equilibrium. Associated with Ernest Hemingway and pre-embargo Cuba of the 1930s, the Daiquiri is a proper balance of rum, sugar and citrus. With only three ingredients, it relies on striking the perfect balance between sweet and sour.
The tiniest of tweaks can take it in a different direction. Chef Jonathan Waxman includes it as one of his three classics, along with Negroni and Margarita, on his menu at Baffi, where it is known as the JW Daiquiri. He doesn’t mess with tradition. The menu of both light and comfortladen dishes also hits that balance.
Whiskey is often a go-to spirit as the weather begins to cool. Rum can do anything whiskey can do, with the bonus of lingering tropical flavors. Swap out bourbon for rum in an Old Fashioned for the best of both seasons. You will want to use aged rum for this, and perhaps something with autumn hues. Unaged rum doesn’t have quite the heft for a spirit-forward drink like an Old Fashioned.
The Betty adds rum to whisky in the Betty Old Fashioned, where Johnny Walker Black Label mingles with Santa Teresa Solera Rum, demerara and coffee bitters. The splash of rum brings out the best in the signature classic and feels just right no matter the weather.
976 Brady Ave. N.W.
Battle and Brew
5920 Roswell Road
Sandy Springs 30328
5394 Peachtree Road
374 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E.
Drinks columnist at Simply Buckhead. Food, spirits, and culture writer.