Serious Rum

Serious Rum, scotch, and bourbon drinkers swirl their favorite quaff neat or on the rocks, but rum is often relegated to the tropical drink category. Mojitos may be all the rage, yet few drinkers in Seattle venture out to try complex aged rums on their own or over ice. Many in the business blame the Liquor Control Board for providing a poor selection of high-end rums, though some say our weather may be more conducive to the consumption of other spirits. "It's just not something that floats through the Seattle area like the jet stream," notes Danielle Philippa (owner of Iberian restaurant Tango and Caribbean Bandoleone) of fine rum's scarcity on our market. She offers approximately six rums ($7 to $12) and says older rums "are smooth and sophisticated with a lot of nuance to them." Philippa adds that her customers are as likely to drink them before as after dinner. The apparent lack of appreciation for small-batch rums "partially has to do with the weather. It's just a physical thing, as rum is almost always associated with somewhere tropical," says Evan Gorsline, bar manager at Italian restaurant Cafe Lago. He adds that his consumers' progression to higher quality rums is also stymied by the fact that "generally the lower quality rums aren't very good." He serves eight, priced $5.50 to $9. Frankie Strong, an owner of Caribbean restaurant Casuelita's, says that many of her customers drink rum neat. That might be in part because she offers 65 rums in the $5 to $12 range. If the same enthusiasm is absent in other parts of town, she surmises that high-end rum "just hasn't been available that much." The ever-reliable Zig Zag Cafe offers 30 rums, priced $5 to $20. Ben Dougherty, an owner, notes that more expensive rums "all have different styles based on climate, water, and different variations in minerals." He notes that an added benefit of these types of rums are often more affordable than other aged spirits of similar quality. Two of Dougherty's most popular rums (from Guatemala) are the Zaya Gran Reserva (a 12-year-old) and Ron Zacapa Centenario (a 23-year-old). "They are incredibly good and incredibly reasonable in price."

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