I am not a big drinker. My recent infatuation with gin and tonics is an anomaly. Nevertheless I am interested in cooking, and history, and through one quirk and another I found myself wondering what people--specifically poor people in 1880's New Orleans--would drink to unwind. Rum, I figured. But rum isn't such a popular drink these days, aside from rum-and-cokes, and though I, my husband, and the bartender at Blanc on the Plaza racked our brains, we couldn't think of any commonplace, traditional drinks that featured rum.
(Yes, yes--that's why we have the iPhones and the Internet. Don't jump ahead of me.)
Then I remembered I had acquired a copy of "Steamdrunks: 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks" a couple of months ago on a whim. And sure enough, when I opened my Kindle I saw there were plenty of historically-accurate and shudder-inducing mixological concoctions featuring rum.
And I should mention, the book itself is a hoot:
"Rum is the saucy drink of choice for your Steampunk sky pirate. Those of you seeking an authentic Victorian flavor need to search the cheapest, bottom rotgut shelves of your local liquor store. The $6 gallon bottle will still be too refined and palatable, so try adding a nice mix of rat droppings, sweat scraped from a homeless man's armpit, and the bitter white citrus interior you've thrown away from all the other recipes in this book. It'll still be too pure for the sake of authenticity, but you'll start to get a feeling for why every rum cocktail of the 19th century was blended with citrus, sugar, and crushing regret."
After reading that, I also understand why not so many rum cocktails have remained popular into the current day.
I recommend this book if you're into booze, or hosting, or history, or any combination thereof.