Rum is already one of the more versatile liquors. Its origin of sweetness makes it a welcome addition to a wide range of cocktails, while its tendency to be aged attracts all sorts of connoisseurs and aficionados. Granted—rum tends to fall on the more tropical side of the aesthetic, what being from the islands and all, but that doesn’t restrict it to only parrotheads (that’s what they call devoted followers of Jimmy Buffet, I hear) by any means. Have a rum on the rocks and get into some jazz. That sounds nice, right? With a flute in there, preferably. Maybe grab a ginger beer and some lime for a dark & stormy and listen to Joy Division, or whatever it is sad kids listen to nowadays. Or—my personal favorite—a little mixture I call The Writer’s Ichor: black coffee, a bit of cinnamon and, you guessed it, rum. It’s bitter and a bit intense, but undeniably fun—just like a real writer!
I know what you’re thinking—Great ideas as these are, I’ve got way too much rum to continue just drinking it. I need to get creative—and fast. Once again, we’ve got your back. Don’t just share that rum with your friends like Johnny Fermented-Molasses-Seed, sprinkling rum hither and yaw; dazzle your friends with your stunning reinventions of this classic liquor! Reinventions like:
Hot Buttered Rum
It’s a band! It’s a figure of speech! It’s a tasty treat, is what it is. First off, if you’re going to tackle this variable circus of alcohol acrobatics, let’s set the precedent for the type of rum that you’ll be needing. In each concoction listed here, it’s likely that a different age or type of rum will be most complimentary, but no one has the time to hunt down five or six different specific bottles of rum to do weird things with, so—we’re going with Havana Club on this one.
Anyway, it’s likely that you’ve heard of this magical menagerie, but never indulged. If that’s the case, let me lay it out for you—start with the rum. Let’s go with Havana Club’s Añejo Especial on this one; it’s light, and spicy in all the right places. Say, 35ml? Grab yourself some butter, of course; but just a small dollop. About 10ml of sugar syrup or honey, a few slices of orange peel, and a pinch of clove. Get that all cookin’ in a pan over some lowish heat. Then comes a big decision. Typically, recipes will call for hot water here (about 100ml), and leave the flavor where it is, subtle as it may seem. If you need a bit of extra sweetness, try some cider with a pinch of cinnamon. Either way, experiment with this winter time treat before you’re forced to try it in the spring—that’d just be crazy.
Cuban Pulled Pork Sandwich With a Twist
I’m going to ramp up the difficulty on this one just a bit for you, but you know what they say—you’ve gotta risk it for the biscuit. Fortunately, the risk here is pretty minimal unless you’re a really bad cook, and the biscuit is a huge, rum-marinated sandwich. I’ll shut my mouth and tell you how to craft this masterpiece:
Get yourself about a pound of pork shoulder. Make sure it’s shoulder, or else it won’t pull apart like you’re going to want it to. And then, grab…
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of paprika
200ml of rum (keep it simple with the Añejo Especial)
400ml of cola
the juice from a couple of limes
1 finely chopped red chili
1 chopped onion
1 stick of celery
1 teaspoon of Worcester sauce
3 cloves of garlic
some salt and pepper sprinklin’
8 slices of brioche toast (that’s good for 4 sandwiches, or one sandwich; if you’re the chosen one)
8 gherkins (pickled cucumbers)
a good handful (200g) of gruyere cheese
aaaand a small dash of mustard.
…got it? Awesome. Let’s start with the pork.
Get that garlic, cumin, paprika, lime juice, Worcester, and salt and pepper into bowl and mix it up real good. During this phase, it’s important to remember that the music that you’re playing should be groovy and danceable; wouldn’t want any bad vibes to get stuck to the raw pork. Mixed? Rub that stuff all over that dang pork, let it sit for an hour and take a break. Make a drink, dance a little; it’s been a long week. Introduce the rest of those ingredients to the pork—it’s time. Get the whole mess into a baking tray and cover it with baking paper and foil; it’s gonna have to get steamy in there. Set the heat at 150, and get it in the oven for 4 hours. That’s a low heat, sure, but pork shoulder is a sensitive beast. Go take a beach walk. Start that book you’ve been meaning to. Open that oven back up and pull that juicy pork to shreds. Almost done, folks.
Grab that fluffy brioche you’ve been staring at, and butter it right on up. Dole out some cheese and mustard for that bad boy, and get it on there. Add pickles, grill for 4-5 minutes. For a little extra fun, pour some of that rum and reduce it 75-80 percent until it’s a sticky glaze.
Hey—no one said being this saucy and succulent would be easy. Dip your toes in the water and enjoy, brah.
Cuban Christmas Pudding
Yeah, I know. It’s February and you think I’ve totally lost it. You probably think I still have my lights up from December, and that I’m trying to push some sort of 24-7, 365 jollyness mandate. I’m not—calm down.
The best thing about rum-based sweets and treats is their versatility. Trust me, when you drop this one in front of your friends at the next barbeque, you’ll be able to call it whatever the hell you want. “Sam’s Summer Solstice Surprise”? Absolutely; great name, Sam.
First up: you’re gonna need four bowls. You do have four bowls, right? If you try to put all of this madness into one vessel, you might pull something, or perhaps tear the universe asunder. So, four.
Let’s begin with:
1 cup of currants
1 cup of golden raisins
1 cup of roughly chopped dried pineapple (apricots, dates, and prunes are also good alternatives)
½ cup of blanched almonds
the grated zest of 1 lemon
½ a cup of Havana Club Añejo 7 Añosto (you’ll appreciate the extra boldness and spice that comes with 7 years).
If I’m you, I’d add an extra half-cup or so of that golden-brown delicacy in there when no one’s looking.
This is the bowl that I’ve dubbed…let me find my notes, here…“The boozeless bowl of baking”, and I’ve written the word “boring” next to it, and circled it a few times. So…it’s good that you’re making this, and not me. *ahem*
1.5 cups of pastry flour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
½ a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, aaaand
¼ teaspoon ground cloves.
My impatience is better lent to coming up with jokes about liquor than measuring out ¼ a cup of anything, trust me.
Ah, yes—the great bowl of grating. Warm up those graters, ladies and gents.
Things not to grate:
2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs.
Things to grate:
1 cup of vegetable shortening (freeze overnight to make it easier to grate)
1 medium apple
1 cup carrot.
You should now have a fun bowl of grated goodies. If you’ve messed up, return to the top of the BOWL THREE section, and do more grating.
Affectionately called “The Curveball” by me in this moment, bowl four is where the party’s at. Where the heat comes, so to speak.
Three eggs, well-beaten
2 Tablespoons of honey (microwave it so it mixes better)
1/3 cup of cold coffee. What? Yeah. Cool, right?
There’s a proven formula to this. Don’t get brave and start mixing bowls all willy-nilly, we’ve worked so hard to get here, don’t blow this for us.
Mix each bowl individually. Cool? Now listen closely:
Add bowl 2 to bowl 1 and mix. Add bowl 3 to bowl 1, mix. Add bowl 4 to bowl 1, mix. Bowl 3 lives in a green house and has a red car, but lives the farthest from Bowl 1, but lives next to a blue house. Just kidding. Once mixed, grease up an oven safe 5th bowl, and cover it with greased parchment paper. Tie that beautiful bowl off with some cooking twine. Get it in a steamer pot for 3 hours until its nice and firm. Remove and let cool. Smells incredible, right? Once cooled, poke several holes into the cake. Take a cup of that sweet rum, warm it up a bit, apply flame, pour over cake and flambé. WHAT? Yeah, you’re flambe-ing now. Look at you, iron chef Wait until fire has gone out (or don’t, but we’re not liable) and enjoy. Talk about a head-turner.
What will they think of next? Marinade, that’s what. What’s marinade, you ask? Well, it’s sort of like a super condiment. Like better barbecue sauce. You can liberally apply it to any number of complimentary meals, or let your food live in it for a while before you cook it, like a beautiful home of flavor. We’re going to go back to the Anejo Especial for this one to get that spicy kick that every proper sauce should have (looking at you, ketchup).
You absolutely will need:
100g of chopped shallots
20g of chopped garlic
20ml of olive oil
80g of chopped red chili
6 dried bay leaves (make sure they’re the dry ones, we don’t want those fresh bay leaves)
50ml Havana Club Anejo Especial
200ml of ketchup
100ml of cola
50g of harissa (a hot African chili paste)
and, of course, 100ml of the best water you’ve got.
Don’t panic, there’s no flambé surprises in this one.
Grab all those ingredients and put them there on the table. Relish in their glory; put away the literal relish you bought. We don’t need that. Start with some olive oil in a pan, easy-peasy. Get those shallots and that garlic frying over medium heat until they brown just a bit and let out some flavor—don’t burn the garlic like I always do. Add the chili and stir it up for a minute until it too lends its flavor secrets to the olive oil. Next up, crumble the bay leaves and toss ‘em in. Cook and stir until it smells fantastic.
When it smells as great as you think it possibly can, turn the burner off and get the mixture into a blender with the water and booze. Well, what are you waiting for? You need me to tell you to blend it, too? Once it’s good a puréed, add the cola and ketchup and whisk until you feel the burn—it’s a great forearm workout if you really get into it. Done and done, easy as that. Granted, this one may not catch as much love and attention as your flaming rum cake, but it’s guaranteed to be the smash hit of the condiment scene inside of your fridge.
Woah. If you’ve made 4 different rum-based delicacies so far and you don’t smell like a subtle waft of ocean breeze through a sugarcane field, then you’ve either done something wrong, or you smell really strongly of something else. Either way, we need to get your scent just right if we’re going to throw this crazy Cuban Havana Rum party that you must now be planning.
I can’t tell you how to make this one, because I don’t even know. Maybe that’s a relief to you; I’m sure making perfumes and colognes is complicated and time consuming. Fortunately for us stinky consumers, Havana Club is going to shoulder that burden for us all and is currently doctoring up some prime scents from their range of bottles, spanning from sweet and light, to intense and spicy.
They’re not out quite yet, but we’re waiting on bated breath for those scientists back at the lab to have a major breakthrough. Keep your eyes peeled.
So, that’s it. Did you get rid of all that pesky extra rum you had lying around? What’s that? You bought more? Well, you’re beyond help at this point. Need more advice on liquor and what to do with it? Follow me below.