In Texas there is always the offhand chance of a tropical storm or hurricane hitting. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a serious storm, but they do happen. Thankfully I live in Austin, on the top of a very high hill. If it floods at my house, Noah will be here, because it will be epochal. As with all disasters, natural or otherwise, a good stiff drink is called for, and what could be better ahead of a major tropical storm than a Dark and Stormy.
Supposedly born in Bermuda in the aftermath of World War I, the Dark and Stormy (or Dark ’N Stormy, or even Dark ’N’ Stormy), mixes a dark rum and ginger beer. When I was in my 20s and working in Washington, I took a much-needed vacation to Bermuda. If you haven’t been to the island nation in the midst of the Atlantic, I highly, highly recommend that you go. It’s a very British island, being an official “overseas territory” and all. Home of the Bermuda shorts and the most gorgeous pink sand beaches, it is truly a beautiful place.
In Bermuda you can have English high tea on the beach. I kid you not. One afternoon, my travel companion and I had tea on a pink sand beach. Little sandwiches, sweets, and strong English tea, all while overlooking the beach and hearing the waves lapping at the shore. It’s magical.
You can’t go to Bermuda and not have their signature cocktail, the Dark and Stormy. It’s a wonderful combination of dark, spicy, Caribbean rum and ginger beer, which isn’t really “beer,” at least not like I usually write about. It’s more like root beer, non-alcoholic, but tasty nonetheless.
Bermuda’s Official Drink
Gosling Brothers, makers of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Gosling’s Ginger Beer, claim the trademark for the island’s official drink. Their products may make the “official” Dark ’N Stormy, but don’t feel forced to use them. I first had this drink while I was riding in a glass-bottom boat in Bermuda looking at the amazing fish. Touristy, I know, but it was a great way to see the sea life and imbibe at the same time.
Since Bermuda is in the midst of the Atlantic, they often get hit with storms. When you’re watching the Weather Channel and they say that a hurricane has “gone out to sea” in the Atlantic, that means cargo and fishing ships in the ocean will have to deal with the storm, but can also mean that it heads toward Bermuda.
This weekend Mother Nature is sending the tropical storm not to Bermuda, but to Texas. Hurricane Harvey is forecasted to slam into the Texas coast in the next 24 hours, and could linger for days to come. With it comes the dark clouds, stormy winds, and flooding rains. If you’re in the path of Harvey you should probably prepare. Board your windows, evacuate when called for, secure necessary supplies, et cetera. Also, you should plan to drink. I mean, what better way to deal with Mother Nature’s wrath than with a stiff, flavorful drink?
How to Make a Dark and Stormy
Here’s what you need to secure for a Dark and Stormy and how to make it.
First you’ll need a dark rum. Don’t go for a mass-marketed clear, pirate emblazoned brand, or one flavored like coconut or lime, just get a good old-fashioned dark rum. These can get spicy, and incredibly strong, so pick one according to your taste.
For this drink I like a rum that’s dark and spicy, but not overly flavored. With rum it’s easy to get one that resembles a “vanilla bomb.” By that I mean its flavor is most prominently vanilla. These are great for mixing in a Cuba Libre, but not good for a Dark and Stormy. I like something with some spice, but not too much vanilla.
Then you’ll need some ginger beer. Nine times out of ten you’ll find that ginger beer is non-alcoholic. There may still be a brand or two that has a small alcohol content, but for the most part, these are about the flavor, not the booze. That flavor you’re going to get from a good ginger beer is the punch of ginger, which mixes nicely with the spice in the dark rum. To be clear, this is made with ginger beer, not ginger ale. These are two totally different (if perhaps similarly named) beverages.
Finally, and this is a real key to completing the drink, you need some limes. You’ll need the juice and either a wedge or peel of the lime to finish out the drink. This is a pretty simple recipe, perfect for the “I only have a few supplies in the storm” cocktail.
In a glass with ice, add at least two ounces of dark rum, then pour in at least three ounces of ginger beer, and finally add the juice of one half of a lime. Mix together and garnish with a wedge or curly-cue peel of the lime and voila, your perfect Dark and Stormy.
Once mixed and sipped, you should notice a drink full of both a ginger and rum flavor. If one severely dominates the other, adjust your mix and try again. This works best when the rum is cold, either from the fridge or shaken in ice beforehand. That way the ice in your glass doesn’t melt as quickly.
As Casa de Jackson gets inundated with buckets of rain this weekend, I’ll be happily sipping one of these tasty Dark and Stormy drinks, thinking of relaxing days on the pink sand beaches under the bright Atlantic sun of Bermuda. You should too.