Rum on Barbados
Liquor historians debate whether rum originated here. Barbadians live as if to prove it. More than a thousand rum shops line the archipelago’s streets and beaches. They even neighbor churches. But rum shops and churches are allies, since rum has flowed through this peaceful 166-square-mile island for 350 years. More recently, Bridgetown-based Mount Gay Rum put Barbados on the world map and serves as an icon of national pride.
At its Best: A safe start is Mount Gay Extra Old. Or better, order St. Nicholas Abbey rum, made at a historic sugar plantation. No matter your choice, rum tastes best in a rum shop, “liming” with locals on ragged bar stools perched over old sandy floors as Barbados’ blue water peeks through open windows. Part corner store, part pub, rum shops aren’t for the shy. Brush up on politics, and cricket.
You’re a Tourist if You: Order Bacardi or a $90 shot at a swank restaurant along the south coast. Rum peaks at around 15 years of aging. Don’t pay for more, and don’t look surprised when your rum arrives in a flask alongside a plastic cup with ice and a can of Coke. The Coke is merely a suggested mixer, not a mandate.
By Eddy Patricelli