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All words and photos: Travis Mitchell

After a raucous Friday night of partying on the Rum Runner Party Bus, Rum Day DC took a leisurely turn on Saturday afternoon with the first annual Rum-B-Que.

The event went down at The Gibson, the dimly-lit speakeasy off the corner of 14th and U. It featured six “bottomless” rum-based punches, which were easily some of the most sophisticated punch recipes I’ve seen.

From my experiences, I find punch can easily become unpleasantly sweet but I quickly learned that when executed properly with quality ingredients, punches don’t have to sacrifice on flavor.

While they aren’t usually given as much thought as cocktails, punches are certainly smart beverages of choice for social events. If you’re looking to impress guests with a classy drink, it’s certainly easier to prepare a batch or two of punch than mix individual concoctions.


The Rum-B-Que showcased several varieties of punch, each made with a different label of rum. Featured brands included Mount Gay, Bacardi, Chairman’s Reserve and Atlantico.

The Bacardi Island Punch hit all the notes of a tropical island breeze. The sweetness of the Bacardi 8 rum and coconut liqueur were well balanced by an acidic lime-raspberry syrup and a splash of tonic.

Fans of the more basic Rum and Coke can aim to replicate The Chairman Goes to Cuba, a punch made with Chairman’s Reserve spiced rum, lemon, Averna Amaro (an Italian liqueur) and cola.

I found the Trader Vic’s Punch, made with Atlantico Private Cask rum, lemon, orange juice, Orgeat and simple syrup, to be the most classic representation of a rum punch. Its citrusy, not-too-sweet flavor made it a sessionable option for a Saturday afternoon barbeque out on the patio.


Speaking of food – Rahman “Rock” Harper, a Hell’s Kitchen winner and the chef at Fatshorty’s in Clarendon, helmed the grill for the afternoon event. There was a variety of charcoal-grilled sausages, including hot Italian, spicy chorizo and the fantastic Kasekrainer, a sausage made with pork, beef and Gruyere cheese.

The sausages are all made by local companies and served with buns from Lyon Bakery. There was also a homemade rum-based “rumbo” barbeque sauce, German potato salad and baked beans. As if an endless supply of rum and sausage wasn’t enough to satisfy appetites, there were rum-inspired snacks available from The Pie Sisters and The Popcorn Queens.

Rum Day DC, which actually ran as a series of events from August 16-18, wrapped up with a pool party and rum punch mixology competition Sunday at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel.

If you missed this year’s Rum Day DC events, keep an eye out for next year’s offerings. The event has grown substantially since its beginning in 2012, and judging by the popularity and quality of last week’s events, I don’t have any reason to believe the success will slow.