Perspective: Writers, Rum, and the Rise of the West

Ahh the beach. Puerto Rico to be exact. Where I ate my weight in pastelillos. Where the Rum Diary was written. Where Hunter Thompson set out to find the inspiration that had been so well tamed by Ernest Hemingway. We come here to reflect. To learn. To play. To contemplate our own delusional self-importance in hope of some perspective.

It is after all a crossroad of culture. Of history. Of life. So much of the modern Western Hemisphere — of America — was shaped here in the Caribbean islands. So much of what we are is a proximate cause of what happened here.

Keep digging and the complex interplay of rum and our very being is intoxicating. It is of course fitting that as we enter Summer many of us Rum-runners give a nod to Mr. Hemingway and his legion of cohorts (Mr. Thompson included) with one legendary daiquiri.

On the surface, the beautiful warm embrace of sun, turquoise water, fine rum and cuisine can be a distraction from all that can be experienced here. The history that can be unraveled. These islands were the catalyst for rebellion by many. From Bostonian wigs to men of piracy. Each of us were called to action — often times violent — because of what we found here. Because of what we believed was right.

It is often overlooked, but America was torn out of the British Empire by men who desired rum. You read that right, rum. Everything from the Boston tea party, to the stamp act; even “no taxation without representation” — was window dressing for the true desire to produce, commercialize and consume rum. Of course, “give us rum” didn’t fly as well with those colonists whose puritan tendencies were a bit more pronounced.

But simply put: the idea of rebellion was sparked by rum, incubated in taverns, and brought to action by men who by modern standards would be recommended for rehab. We burned ships. We killed thousands. And in all respects did whatever we could to rebel against British tyranny. All along we maintained that it was democracy that motivated the founding fathers. Democracy however, was a solution, not the reason for rebellion. It was a convenient rallying cry.

We have a history in America. Not always beautiful. Not ever simple. But what it is, is bold. Decisive. Sweet on the surface and complex on the back of the palate. And sometimes harsh. In many ways not unlike the delicately aged spirit which we are captivated by. The island spirits have been a consistent desire that has transcended generations, Kings and nations. Whether that desire was for freedom, oppression, control, security, patriotism, rebellion, piracy or politics — it all really comes down to perspective.

Cheers.

Hemingway Daiquiri Recipe

  • 2 oz rum
  • 3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup 1:1
  • Garnish with a grapefruit twist

Shake all ingredients except the garnish and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.