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The Dark ‘n' Stormy: A Brief History Of The Dark Rum Classic

By: Shreya Goswami

dark n stormy

Rum has forever been associated with sailors and maritime history, and over time, the dark, deep and earthy-flavoured spirit has won the hearts of those leading landlocked lives. Now of course, we have plenty of rum varieties like Captain Morgan that are used not only to enjoy the spirit’s flavours as they are, but also in the form of creative cocktails that combine various ingredients to give you the perfect rum-based infusion to savour. And among these rum cocktails, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is nothing short of iconic.  

The very name, Dark ‘n’ Stormy, sounds enigmatic and alluring, like it captures adventure on a stormy night out at sea. Does the taste and nose of the cocktail evoke similar feelings? Yes of course, it does! Traditionally made with a blend of the darkest of dark rums, refreshing ginger beer with a zingy kick, citrus-loaded lime juice, occasionally some syrup (although good dark rums rarely ever need that addition) and ice, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is quite an adventurous cocktail. 

Similar to the Moscow Mule, which uses vodka instead of dark rum, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy has a rich and storied history tracing its roots back to Bermuda, a British-governed island in the North Atlantic Ocean. Even as the cocktail’s popularity extends beyond that of Bermuda and even the UK and USA, knowing more about the iconic cocktail can take you on as great an adventure as sipping on it can. So, here is everything you need to know about the history of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy. 

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Bermuda, The Island Known For Its Incredible Dark Rum 

The fact that the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was born in Bermuda and is currently considered to be the unofficial drink of the island shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who know the history of rum production there. Many believe that rum production in Bermuda has pre-colonial origins thanks to the abundance of molasses, a byproduct of sugarcane, which is the most crucial crop grown in the island’s fertile soil. In fact, it is this abundance of sugarcane and the subsequent sugar trade potential that attracted British colonialists to the island. 

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bermuda became one of the key participants in the trans-Atlantic trade network, and sugar as well as rum were the island’s primary exports to Britain and the British colonies. Naturally, rum became a spirit of huge significance for the natives of Bermuda, the immigrants there, and of course, the colonial British rulers. The people of Bermuda clearly excelled in harnessing the potential of molasses to craft a number of rum styles, ranging from light to dark varieties. And that’s how the Goslings came into prominence too. 

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How Dark ‘n’ Stormy Became Bermuda’s Favourite 

One of the leading Bermudian families that ventured into the rum trade as far back as 1806, the family’s legacy of rum began when they first crafted their now-iconic Black Seal Rum. Before that, Gosling Brothers Limited had been known as wine and spirits merchants, but with time, they became known as Bermuda’s most prominent rum makers and exporters. Needless to say, when the Great Depression and the World Wars affected trans-Atlantic trade, Bermuda’s rum production faced challenges—but the Goslings and others managed to continue their legacy of rum production.  

It was in this milieu of rum production and appreciation that the Dark ‘n’ Stormy was born. Legend says that the cocktail itself was born at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, where global sailors sought refuge from tempestuous weather. Gosling’s Black Seal was first used to concoct the Dark ‘n’ Stormy by blending dark rum with another locally produced gem, ginger beer. At the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, sailors could then enjoy a truly homegrown rum-based cocktail that reflected Dark ‘n’ Stormy nights at sea, tying together the island, the sailors and the cocktail forever after. 

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What Makes The Dark ‘n’ Stormy Tick 

Though there is no specific date ascribed to the birth of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktail, the place and era it was born in speak volumes about why the cocktail works as a classic in Bermuda and beyond even today. To say that the Dark 'n' Stormy encapsulates the essence of Bermuda in a single glass would not be wrong. Dark rum, the cornerstone of this cocktail, reflects the island's rich history of rum production—although mixologists across the world have also innovated versions of the classic with non-Bermudian rums like Captain Morgan.  

What works in favour of Dark ‘n’ Stormy is the fact that the rich, robust flavours of dark rum, especially those with a hint of caramel and spice, blend perfectly well with the fiery and spicy kick of ginger beer. Bold, spicy and slightly sweet, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy represents stormy seas and maritime adventures to perfection. Is it any wonder then that this Bermudian-origin cocktail is so beloved around the world among rum lovers and connoisseurs?