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How did Rum Cocktails Become so Popular in the UK?

A study from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has shown that sales of rum have spiked in the UK during the pandemic. However, this is just the latest increase in popularity in the history of a drink that has always been one of the nation’s favourites. But what is rum and how did it become one of our best-loved drinks?

How rum is made

Rum as we know it today started to be produced in the Caribbean and some regions of South America early in the seventeenth century. Rum is made of sugar cane molasses, a byproduct of sugar production. The molasses mixed with water and yeast are fermented in great vats. Then they are distilled, a process that converts the fermented sugar into alcohol. The alcohol resulted from distillation is then aged in oak barrels for at least a year.

How did rum become so popular in the UK?

The origin of rum is linked to the dark slave history of sugar cane plantations. In the seventeenth century, the demand for sugar exploded. Workers were needed to toil in the extreme conditions of the sugar plantations, which led to the enslavement of people from Africa. The history of rum is thus very political.

Already very popular in the Americas by the mid-seventeenth century, rum was brought to the UK by traders and the Royal Navy. Already at that time, it was perceived as the drink of sailors and pirates. Its popularity in the UK soared even more after the Navy captured the island of Jamaica from Spain in 1660. In 1731, Jamaican rum became the daily ration of the Royal British Navy. The ration, known as the “tot” was distributed to sailors in the Royal Navy until 1970 when it was abolished due to concerns over the sailors’ capacity to manipulate sophisticated machinery when drinking. Another famous concoction, the “grog” is also connected to the daily ration of rum. In the eighteenth century, sailors in the Caribbean named “grog” the watered-down version of the “tot”, distributed under the instructions of British Admiral Edward Vernon, nicknamed “Old Grog”.

Which are the most popular rum cocktails in the UK?

Depending on the type of rum used as a basis, there are spiced rum cocktails, dark rum cocktails, and white rum cocktails. Market studies indicate that not only neat rum but rum-based cocktails as well are among the nation’s favourites. A study conducted by the online market platform On Buy for March 2020 has shown that Mojito and Piña Colada topped the Google Searches for cocktails in that month. Both cocktails are made traditionally with white rum, but the variants made with spiced and dark rums are very popular as well.

Market studies keep indicating that Brits absolutely love rum and rum cocktails. Rum cocktails are accessible, easy to make, and delicious. You can make them yourself at home or get a mobile bar hire for your next event. That way, you can enjoy the refinement of a rum cocktail when it is prepared and served by a professional bartender.

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