Say the word Bermuda and many things come to mind. For many it’s a paradise getaway, an island dotted with breathtaking cliff side ocean vistas and ringed with dreamy pink sand beaches. For the fashion-conscious it’s the nationally named shorts regularly worn with a jacket and tie. For mystery-lovers it’s the northern point of the mystical triangle where ships have inexplicably disappeared.
Far north of the Caribbean, Bermuda is a unique spot, a little British, a little nautical, and posh enough for the rich and famous. But for a cocktail writer, the first thing to come to mind is the Dark ‘N Stormy – a delightfully spicy and slightly sweet rum treat that’s known as “Bermuda’s National Drink.”
The Dark n’ Stormy is a simple highball, a mixture of Goslings Black Seal rum and ginger beer with a garnish of lime. Ginger beer, which for those unfamiliar is a non-alcoholic soda, is a grownup relative of ginger ale with a zesty flavor of fresh ginger root.
If you’re on the island and you order a Dark N Stormy, you’re almost guaranteed that your tipple will be forged with Goslings Black Seal Rum, a product of Bermuda. The full-bodied spirit, which pours the color of dark coffee, has a distinctive spiced flavor with hints of oak and caramel.
While many cocktails can boast world-wide popularity, the Dark n’ Stormy is one of the few that is trademarked and its ingredients strictly dictated. As the popularity of the cocktail spread outside Bermuda, bartenders began using other dark rums in the mixture. In response to these variations, Gosling’s registered Dark ‘N Stormy in 1991 and it can only be made with Gosling Black seal Rum.
The brand has a long and storied history. According to Goslings, in the spring of 1806 London Wine and Spirits merchant William Gosling and his son James chartered the ship Mercury bound for America. After months of poor sailing conditions, the boat could not make it to the mainland and instead landed in the nearest port of Bermuda. James opened a shop on the Kings Parade in St. George.
Around 1850 after much experimental blending, Gosling offered a dark rum for sale. At first it was simply called “Old Rum,” and it was sold straight from the barrel. During World War I, the rum was offered in Champagne bottles reclaimed from the British Officers Mess with corks sealed in Black Wax. People began asking for the rum with the black seal and the name was born.
While Goslings rum has been blended in Bermuda for generations, the rum itself actually comes from tropical Caribbean islands where sugar cane grows. When the rum distillate arrives in Bermuda it is aged and blended according to an old family recipe. A portion of the rum stays in Bermuda where it will eventually be sold to the local market. The remainder is shipped to the Bardstown, Ky., where it is bottled for the U.S. market.
Over the years the Dark n’ Stormy has become a popular drink in port-of-calls up and down the eastern seaboard requested by various sailors who have visited Bermuda. And with the resurgence of tiki drinks, this unique tipple is showing up on more and more cocktail menus. Simple to mix and wonderfully refreshing, this cocktail brings home a little taste of Bermuda in a frosty glass.
The Dark n Stormy
2 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal rum
Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer
In a tall glass filled with ice, add rum and top with ginger beer. Garnish with lime wedge (optional).
Ingredients to make a Dark ’N Stormy may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown