Rum renaissance


As rum’s popularity among consumers continues to grow, it is imperative that your venue is up to date with all that the category has to offer. Speaking to leading industry experts and the Global Rum Ambassador himself, Ian Burrell, we provide invaluable knowledge on the well-loved spirit and explain why, now more than ever, your bar should be embracing and expanding your rum offerings.

Loved by many, unique and diverse, rum is an exceptional spirit that provides endless possibilities for bartenders. As consumers become increasingly curious about rum and all that it has to offer, it is becoming even more vital for venues and bartenders to ensure they are making the most of their rum offerings and aligning with this demand.

The rum sector is seeing prominent growth, with the demand for rum, especially craft and premium rums, increasing. Tommy Cole, Ron Santiago de Cuba Brand Ambassador, shines a light on the growing category: “The rum sector is undergoing a dynamic transformation with a shift towards premiumisation and authentic craft offerings.

“Consumers are increasingly seeking unique and higher-quality rums, driving growth in aged and spiced variants”, he continues.

Ben Reed, Director and Co-Founder of Bullion rum, echoes Tommy’s words, explaining: “The rum sector has been experiencing significant growth over the past few years, and the resurgence of interest in craft spirits has been a driving force in its expansion.”

The on-going growth of the rum category, particularly the growing interest of premium and craft variations, is likely due to consumers’ changing attitudes towards rum. Once a spirit synonymous to only tropical cocktails, consumers’ knowledge, and consequent curiosity, surrounding the spirit has increased, as they learn more about its great qualities.

Highlighting consumers’ changing attitudes towards rum is Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador and Founder of RumFest, who explains: “Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and more discerning about the rum category. They want to know what’s in the bottle, where it’s from and what makes it premium.”

Expanding your venue’s rum offerings, to premium and craft variations for example, is essential in ensuring your venue is meeting this demand and helping to positively impact consumers’ attitudes towards the spirit. Stocking premium and craft rums is also a great opportunity to upsell, increase revenue, and further elevate the guest experience. Consider swapping out your cocktails’ ‘house rum’ with a new, premium rum that tells a story to consumers.

Charlie Barkley, Co-Founder and CEO of newly launched Vapoura, explains the increasing importance to consumers of quality rums that have strong brand values: “Discerning drinkers are increasingly more concerned with both quality and authenticity. As well, if they are going to support a brand there needs to be a story that speaks to them the right way, it has to either be relatable or inspiring; or both!

“Vapoura has not just been about developing a great tasting liquid for people, but bottling up everything that brings joy and passion to us as a team: friends, family, connection, music, growth and adventure”, Charlie finishes.

Reign Rum, the world’s first multi-award-winning African luxury rum, from Ghana, is another brand that places equal importance on both quality and strong brand values. Amma Mensah, Founder and CEO of Reign Rum, explains: “For us, we are a grass-to-glass business, we exist to empower the entirety of our value chain, from farmers, to bartenders, to customers and all who encounter our regal nectar.

“We are committed to raising salaries at our farm and building ownership structures among our team, we repurpose our bagasse to power our furnace and make compost, and everything we grow is organic. We know that while we have a beautiful and delicious selection of products, it is important to us that we are a brand which looks good, tastes good, but also does good”, Amma says.

While stocking an array of premium and craft rums, it is also crucial to offer a guests a well-known rum, especially to encourage rum ‘rookies’ to explore all that the category has to offer. Alex Haslam, Head of Category Development, On Trade at Diageo GB, highlights the importance of offering a well-recognised rum, and explains: “Operators can encourage adults to explore the category by stocking a few well-known iconic rum brands that people already know and enjoy, along with creative innovations introduced by leading brands. Captain Morgan, for example, is an iconic rum brand that has a range of unique rum-based spirit flavours for consumers to enjoy.

“We also know that 45% of consumers that choose a spirit and mixer serve say it is important they recognise the spirit brand used”, Ben adds.  

From premium and craft rum to well-loved brands, the wider your rum offering, the better. Ben Reed from Bullion advises bars to rethink the rum variations they serve, and how broadening their horizons can cater to a wider range of consumers. He states: “For bars and establishments looking to cater to a diverse clientele, it is essential to stock an array of different rum variants. Bullion’s spiced rum attracts those who enjoy a touch of warmth and complexity in their beverages, while flavoured rums add an element of excitement and experimentation, attracting curious customers seeking unique taste experiences.”

“By offering a well-curated selection of rums, bars can accommodate various palates and encourage patrons to explore different rum-based drinks, fostering a dynamic and enjoyable drinking environment”, he finishes.

Ian Burrell holds a similar opinion, and explains that there is much more to the rum category than merely offering the typical and obvious variations: “If you are just offering a white, gold and dark rum then your menu is doing a disservice to the category. As rums become more popular, consumer appetites will increase, thus a bar offering a wider selection of rums will satisfy their rum-seeking guests needs.”

But how else can venues embrace rum and rum-based serves? Well, rum’s versatility makes it the perfect spirit to experiment with, and with its array of variations and tastes, the possibilities for bartenders are endless.

Rum expert, Ian, comments on rum’s appealing characteristics, which makes rum such a pleasure to experiment with, enjoy and celebrate: “Rum is the most versatile spirit in the world, as there is a style for every type of cocktail, including cocktails that don’t usually call for rum. You can use a heavy Jamaican rum instead of Scotch, a medium bodied Barbados rum instead of Irish Whiskey, a Venezuelan rum instead of Cognac, or a light Puerto Rican rum instead of vodka.”

Tommy from Ron Santiago de Cuba agrees: “Rum is exceptionally versatile, playing a crucial role in a wide range of cocktails and serves. Its diverse categories, including light, dark, spiced, and aged varieties, offer unique flavour profiles suitable for various drinks.

“Cuban rum, characterised by its light character and smooth nuances, renowned for its quality and tradition, has significantly influenced cocktail culture. Classic concoctions like the Mojito and Daiquiri showcase Cuban rum’s vividly flavoursome and robust qualities. Furthermore, its use in contemporary cocktails and fusion beverages demonstrates rum’s adaptability and enduring appeal in the ever-evolving world of mixology.”

Your venue may consider showcasing rum’s versatile nature to guests by hosting a monthly ‘rum night’, where all cocktails on the menu are adapted with rum as the base spirit. Alternatively, creating a separate rum menu, with an array of rum serves and different rum variations, or a ‘rum of the week’, will promote the spirit to guests and illuminate its great characteristics.  

Since rum is such an expansive category with a wide range of variations, it is important for venues to consider expanding their knowledge surrounding the spirit, which will help to aid the makings of new rum creations as well as heightening the customer experience.

RumFest, founded by Ian Burrell, creates a unique and fun opportunity to learn about rums from all over the world. Speaking on RumFest, Ian explains: “The RumFest started in 2007, when the rum category was still finding itself internationally. Since then, the event has gone on to inspire other rum festivals around the world, helping the international rum category to grow globally.”

Commenting on why he would encourage bar owners, managers and bartenders to attend, Ian continues: “Rum is one of the most misunderstood spirits in the world. Many bar owners and managers still think that all rums are the same, and that there are no regional differences to rums, as there are with whiskies and brandies.

“Here at RumFest, you’ll learn the differences between a Jamaica Rum, a Martinique Rum or a Cuba rum. You’ll also get some tips on how to use them in cocktails and how to appreciate them, from some of the best rum experts on the planet”, Ian adds.

Embracing rum by creating new and exciting rum-based creations, and perhaps even serving rum in unconventional ways, is a great way to feed your guests’ curiosity for the spirit and elevate their experience. More so, experimenting with rum and complementary flavours makes the perfect opportunity to create something to really wow guests.

Dee Davies, Business Development Manager at Bristol Syrup Company, sees the importance of selecting quality ingredients that enhance rum’s full flavours, and she explains: “Good rums have layer upon layer of flavour, so when it comes to making rum serves, it’s important that the accompanying ingredients complement and enhance these nuances. That’s why we created our range of syrups, to help elevate mixed drinks by providing flavours authentic to the name on the label.

CORN & OIL

INGREDIENTS:

20ml Bristol Syrup Company Falernum Syrup

50ml gold rum

2 dashes of angostura bitters

METHOD:

Stir and serve over block ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

“Many bartenders will judge a bar purely on its ability to make a good daiquiri, and this is something we kept this in mind when making our new lime juice. Our limes are juiced rather than crushed to avoid bitter pith flavours ruining the juice. All Bristol Syrup Company purées and juices have been created to add fruitiness and balance to mixed drinks without the mess and waste of making them in-bar. This means that bartenders can rest easy knowing they can pour out delicious, consistent fruit every time”, Dee adds.

Going forward, it seems that rum’s popularity will continue to grow, which makes even more reason for your venue to get au fait with the spirit and its endless variations now.

Ben of Bullion Rum sees a bright future ahead for rum, as he explains: “Looking into the future, it is highly likely that rum’s popularity will continue to grow. The current trends in the spirits industry, such as the emphasis on craft, authenticity, and unique experiences, align perfectly with what rum has to offer.

“Overall, the future for rum looks promising, with its rich history, versatile nature, and continuous innovation contributing to its enduring popularity”, he concludes.

Ultimately, the rum category’s unceasing growth creates an obligation for all venues to align their serves with this demand. Expanding your venue’s rum offerings by exploring different variations such as premium and craft rums, experimenting with rum in an array of different drinks, and education and re-education on the category, is essential in ensuring your venue can fully embrace all that rum has to offer.

BULLION SUNSET

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2oz Bullion Coconut Rum
  • 1oz fresh pineapple juice
  • 0.75oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5oz grenadine syrup
  • Pineapple slice and cherry, to garnish
  • Ice cubes

METHOD:

Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add the Bullion Coconut Rum, fresh pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine syrup to the shaker and shake well until the mixture is chilled. Then, strain the mixture into a chilled highball glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry, then serve!

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