The Dark 'n Stormy cocktail is a unique amalgamation of Bermuda's British history, symbolising the fusion of the island's merchant and naval traditions. Its status as one of only four internationally trademarked cocktails reflects Bermudians' entrepreneurial spirit and their legacy of making a significant impact on the global stage.
In the early 1800s, William Gosling was engaged in the liquor trade in London. However, the allure of the New World prompted a change. In 1806, his son James, aboard a chartered ship named the Mercury, set sail for America with a cargo worth 10,000 pounds sterling in wines and spirits.
The journey of the Mercury, unfortunately, deviated from its intended course, and in a twist of fate that benefited Bermuda's drinkers, the ship never reached America.
Contrary to the more triumphant arrivals of Bermuda's initial English settlers, the Mercury found itself becalmed in the Atlantic for an extended period—91 days, to be precise. The prolonged delay led to the expiration of the ship's charter, prompting the beleaguered crew to seek refuge in Bermuda.
James Gosling, upon his arrival in Bermuda, developed a fondness for the island and decided to make it his home. He set up a shop on King's Parade in St. George's. In 1824, the Goslings shop was relocated to Front Street in Hamilton, where they still maintain a store. The family imported the first barrels of rum distillate a few years later, in 1860.
Over time, the Goslings perfected their blending process, creating one of the world's finest and most distinctive dark rums—Gosling's Black Seal. Until 1914, consumers of Gosling's rum would refill used bottles directly from the barrel. During World War I, the Goslings began distributing their rum in champagne bottles collected at the Royal Navy Officers Mess. These bottles were sealed with a unique black wax, eventually giving the rum its distinctive name.
Ginger beer, a favoured British beverage, was also produced on the island, including at a factory affiliated with the Royal Naval Officer's Club. Other accounts state the naval officers and sailors were involved in producing ginger beer at their homes too. Ginger beer was favoured in the navy, likely due to its reputed effectiveness in alleviating seasickness.
This convergence of rum and ginger beer in Bermuda laid the foundation for the creation of the iconic Dark 'n' Stormy cocktail, blending the island's rich maritime history with its contributions to the world of beverages.
Legend has it that during one of the celebratory moments, a sailor remarked that his drink had "the colour of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under." Thus, the ominous moniker of the Dark 'n Stormy was born.
In the period between the end of World War I and 1991, the connection between Goslings and the Dark 'n Stormy became inseparable, stretching beyond Bermuda and gaining prominence, especially in the United States as the company expanded its rum export business. However, with the cocktail's growing popularity, imitations featuring different rums began to surface.
To preserve the authenticity of the Dark 'n Stormy, Gosling Brothers Ltd. took legal action. In 1991, the company filed and successfully secured two trademarks for the recipe. This strategic move ensured that the Dark 'n Stormy made with Gosling's Black Seal Rum and Gosling's Stormy Ginger Beer remains a distinctive and trademarked concoction.
Add rum and lime juice to a tall glass filled with ice.
Top with the ginger beer.
Garnish with a lime wheel.