All Words: Travis Mitchell
All Photos: Brandon Weight
Rum lovers, rejoice–National Rum Day is August 16 and D.C. is hosting its own celebration of the spirit, one that is often overshadowed by bourbon, whiskey and tequila but is no less deserving of its moment in the mixology spotlight.
Rum Day DC actually runs from August 16-18 and includes public events geared at both rum beginners and experts. The event is only a year old but has already evolved into a three-day celebration of everything rum, aimed at both premium and entry-level brands. Featured DC Rum Day brands include Mount Gay, Atlantico, Chairman’s Reserve and Bacardi.
The kickoff happened Tuesday evening at a media dinner hosted by Beucheurt’s Saloon, a well-loved Capitol Hill restaurant. It was the perfect venue to get acquainted with the versatility and flavors that rum brings to cocktails and food.
Chef Andrew Markert (formerly of PS7s) framed the evening with a four-course menu inspired by local ingredients from East Oaks Organic Farm in Poolesville, and by the many varieties of available rum. The restaurant currently sources about 75 percent of its produce from East Oaks and also cultivates a small on-site garden.
Dishes included a salad of tomatoes, melon and goat cheese; barbecued rock fish with corn zucchini hash; bison steak with cucumber and hissup salad; and bananas foster with spiced ice cream.
While all the food was all excellent, rum was the unquestionable star of the evening. Each dish was thoughtfully paired with a cocktail featuring a different type of rum. The evening started out with a Bacardi -based “Backyard Daiquiri,” a sweet drink made with lime basil syrup and local apple melon over a scoop of shaved ice.
My personal favorite was the “Perched on a Rock,” a take on an Old Fashioned made with a base of Mount Gay Black Barrel , Benedictine, Angostura, chocolate chili bitters and Campari. I’d happily sip this cocktail anytime, and would recommend it to anyone sauntering up to the bar at Beuchert’s. And I can’t leave out the Mike and Ike sling, made with Atlantico rum and named after the Saloon’s two Bison heads that greet guests from their perch behind the bar.
Thankfully, Rum Day DC will not be limited to an invite-only event. The weekend plays host to several events, and tickets are still available for those interested in tasting and learning more about rum.
If you have the time and money for only one event, make it The Speakeasy Rum-B-Que, happening Saturday, August 17 at The Gibson. The event includes six bottomless rum punches, rum-inspired barbeque from Fatshorty’s and extra goods from Pie Sisters and the Popcorn Queens.
Those looking for a Friday night option can hit up the Rum Runner Party Bus, a bar crawl with stops at Hogo, Farmers Fishers Bakers, Teddy and the Bully Bar and Smith Commons. The weekend concludes on Sunday with a pool party and rum cocktail competition at the Capital Liason Hotel’s rooftop pool. The winning bartender will walk away with a trophy and $500 in prizes.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, be sure to tag all your rum-inspired weekend events with #RumDayDC. Tickets and more information for all events are available online. You can also check out www.rumdaydc.com.