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The Rise of Rum: Hotels Are Getting Into the Spirit
Enjoy tastings, customized cocktails and mixology classes on a spirits-filled getaway.
From Boston to Key West, Florida, properties across the country are offering a variety of rum-infused cocktails, themed packages and tastings.(Getty Images).
Love a good mojito? You're not alone. Americans are enjoying rum cocktails no matter where they go, from tropical piña coladas to mojitos served on the rocks. Rum sales have grown steadily since 2002, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and remained steady over the past eight years with roughly 25 million 9-liter cases sold each year. But all shades of rum-infused cocktails – spiced and flavored included – are popping up on menus and bars dedicated to the largely Caribbean-imported spirit around the country, with a variety of hotels breaking into the rum scene. Here are some fun ways you can partake in the trend and savor rum at hotels around the U.S.
[See: 12 Top Caribbean Beach Bars.]
The Rum Rundown
Americans began drinking rum during the mid-1600s, when exports of molasses, the key ingredient in rum, from the West Indies reached New England. While the spirit's popularity rose and fell over hundreds of years, it gained a resurgence during World War II, when the whiskey supply declined, because distilleries were used to make industrial alcohol for the war. "Rum is the original spirit of our country," says Kelly Railean, owner and master distiller at Railean Distillers, a distributor in San Leon, Texas.
Today, rum is having a revival. Interest in specialty cocktails is on the rise. Americans are also interested in learning about the different types of rum, including spiced and flavored run, where various spices are added to the blend, as well as barrel-aged rum varieties.
The Resurgence of Rum Trails and Bars
Rum-focused bars are cropping up at U.S. hotels, including the JW Marriott Marco Island. As part of their transition to become part of the JW Marriott portfolio in 2016, the property added Kane, a Tiki bar that offers more than 40 varieties of rum from around the world, making it the most expansive collection in the area. The beachside bar was a natural fit for the property, which already features a Balinese-inspired theme.
Aside from rum tastings, guests can enjoy custom cocktails, like the Turtle Season Lights Out, which includes several rums, coconut liqueur, a homemade grenadine and pineapple, orange and lemon juices. Kane also has a menu filled with modern dishes to complement its drink selection, and offers a view of the hotel's nightly fire dancer performance along the beach.
Strong Water Tavern at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, a Caribbean-inspired property which opened in 2016 at Universal Orlando, is a specialty rum bar that boasts 75 rare and vintage rum varieties, including several from Florida. The bar's own rum "captain" can pour flights and help patrons choose the right rum style to enjoy by the outdoor fire pit, which offers views overlooking a lagoon. Guests can also select cocktails, such as the Planter's Punch or Dark 'N Jumpy, paired with items from the tapas menu.
Meanwhile, at the Intercontinental Boston, you may feel like you're stepping back in time, when rums were all the rage. Rumor has it that even Paul Revere stopped for a sip during his midnight ride. The RumBa, a rum-themed cocktail bar, pays tribute to the bygone era, serving a collection of distilled rums and appetizers while guests listen to Latin and Caribbean music.
You can even find rum bars in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess' Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, in collaboration with celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, serves Central and South American-style small plates with a choice of more than 150 rums, including its own blend, Rum Princesa.
Packing a Punch
Rum punches were popular in the colonial era, and included rum, water, sugar, citrus and often spices. Several hotels are bringing back rum punch varieties as a sweeter option for guests looking to give rum a go. For example, Strong Water Tavern offers several punches that serve four to six people and include flavors such as vanilla and pineapple or apricot. The new YAKU by La Mar waterfront bar and lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami serves handcrafted punch cocktails, which include a rum option.
Meanwhile, guests staying at Renaissance Hotels can sample rum concoctions served in complimentary punch bowls prepared by the hotel's mixologists every evening at more than 80 properties. The Perrier sparkling punch bowls, all featuring Perrier water, include a rum concoction. The punch combines cranberry, pineapple and grapefruit juices along with a locally sourced blend of white and aged rum. "Rum is used in this cocktail, because it is the perfect expression of summer fun and a traditional spirit for punches," says Lynnette Marrero, national brand mixologist for Perrier. "The bubbles of Perrier help bring out the flavors of the rum," she adds.
Diving Deeper Into the Rum Trend
Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in Key West, Florida, boasts the most expensive collection of rum – from Appleton Estate 50 Year OldJamaica Rum to Pyrat Rum Cask 1623 – at its RUMba bar, which opened in 2016. Guests can dive further into the resurgence of rum with the property's "Room & Rum" package, which includes a tasting at Key West Legal Rum Distillery along with a cocktail shaker and welcome mojito.
If you would rather visit the island that is home to Bacardi rum, head to Puerto Rico. As part of the Mojito Experience at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, guests are matched with hotel bartenders to take a class and learn the art of mixology.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.