Brugal Rum Throws Bash in Williamsburg, Hates Plastic Cups

This seems like a fun party for Brugal Rum. Glad I got here to King & Grove in Williamsburg before the sky opened up. It’s neat here at Upper Elm, the rooftop bar. The rain is lashing against the clear retractable roof, but there’s still light in the sky, giving the room a funky undersea effect. The DJ’s playing cool music. Here comes Daft Punk’s "Get Lucky." I’ll probably get sick of it at some point but for now I still like it. What’s that on the bar? It’s a clear box filled with red plastic party cups, the kind I used to drink cheap beer out of in college. It says "THE RUM THAT ISN’T FOR POURING INTO PLASTIC." I think I get it. Some people have only had rum the cheap way, with cloyingly sweet mixers. Brugal Especial Extra Dry rum is more refined, more sophisticated. It deserves to be served in proper glassware. Alright, let me try one of those cocktails they’re calling The Rivalry. Great, thank you. Hey, this glass feels lighter than usual. Wait a second, this isn’t a glass at all, it’s made out of plastic. What’s going on here? What am I supposed to think?

The party organizers probably didn’t realize that every rooftop bar in New York has to use plastic "glasses" these days in case some idiot chucks one over the railing. I’ve even had a martini in a plastic martini glass at Gansevoort Park Rooftop. Funny thing is they really don’t bother me, I kind of like them.

And Brugal’s point about plastic isn’t lost on me, just a little funny, considering every cocktail in this room is served in plastic. I’ve long felt that rum deserves more respect than it gets. Yes, a rum-and-Coke is a beautiful thing, but today’s best rums can stand on their own, and don’t need to hide in some sweet artificial neon-colored frankenpunch.

This Brugal right here can be sipped neat, or served on the rocks, or with a splash of club soda. It has that nice body that comes from the sugarcane it’s made with (well, the molasses that comes from the sugarcane), but it’s drier than most rums. I like that.

The older I get, the less I want sweet drinks. But I still like a good party, and this Rivalry I’m drinking is tasty. It’s the creation of bartender Danny Neff of Boulton & Watt, and has Brugal Extra Dry rum, apricot brandy, mango puree, lemon juice, tonic, and an orange twist. It’s not not sweet, but it’s definitely not one of those tooth-cracking sugar blasts that they serve–in plastic cups–at cheap beach resorts. It’s balanced. It’s grown-up. And it’s fun. 

Okay, Brugal, I’ll tease you about your wobbly stance on plastic cups, but you make a fine rum. ¡Salud!

Plastic Glass


[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for King & Grove Williamsburg, Boulton & Watt; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur: The Secret to the Perfect Rum Punch

It was a scorcher over the weekend, and we had a 3pm Little League game to attend in the park. The kids are happy just chasing the ball around, so I decided to do the parents a favor and bring a gallon of rum punch to share. Yeah, I’m that guy. I’d never made one before, but I’ve tasted quite a few, so I figured I’d dip into my not insubstantial rum collection and have a go at it. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back, but it turned out amazing, and I’m pleased to share the recipe with you. You can switch up the ingredients if you like, but the secret elixir that tied it all together was Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur.

The Sicilian liqueur was kind of a last-minute addition to the mix, but I remembered how a lot of punches and sangrias often benefit from the addition of a sweet liqueur or wine, like brandy, to bind it together. Since I didn’t have any brandy, I grabbed the Solerno, and it worked great. My rum punch was a huge hit at the park. I wandered among the blankets filled with bored parents, watching their eyes light up as I offered what I described as Caribbean-style rum punch. A few jumped at the offer immediately, which I respected. Others acted coy at first, giving me the old oh-I-shouldn’t act. I don’t have a lot of patience for that, so those who came around quickly had punch, and those who had the keep the charade going went thirsty. I’m not going to beg you to drink my rum punch. 

But Mia’s dad J.P. is from Haiti, and he knows his rum. Even though he was coaching first base, he didn’t hesitate to reach out for that blue plastic cup, praising my rum punch up and down for its flavor, complexity, and balance. Plenty of others joined him, and my new Rubbermaid drink cooler was soon empty.

It would be a shame to keep this fine recipe a secret, so here you go. Experiment as you like, but I’m telling you, the Solerno brings all the other ingredients together in harmony. I’m calling it Cloud Nine, because it has nine ingredients: Four types of rum, four types of juice, and one liqueur. And you can tell people it represents three different Caribbean island, plus Sicily. The only way to make it better would be to squeeze your own juice, but I was pretty happy with my store-bought stuff, and heard no complaints.

Cloud Nine

1 1/2 Cup Bacardi 8 Rum (Puerto Rico)

1 1/2 Cup Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum (Barbados)

1 1/2 Cup Brugal Especial Cask Aged White Rum (Dominican Republic)

1 Cup Lola Belle Cherry-flavored Rum (Barbados)

3/4 Cup Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur (Sicily)

2 Cups Welch’s Orange/Pineapple/Apple Juice

1 1/2 cup Minue Maid Watermelon Juice Cocktail

Mix it all up in a 1-gallon water cooler, add ice to the top, grab a stack of cups, and go make some friends. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Nightlife Guide; Get Ready for the Summer of Rum; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter; Official sites for Bacardi rum, Mount Gay rum; Brugal rum; Lola Belle cherry rum; Solerno liqueur.]

Get Ready for the Summer of Rum

The anecdotal evidence is in, and I’m calling it now: Rum is the spirit of Summer 2013. There are some tremendous rums on the market these days, whether you’re serious connoisseur or just want to have a fun and frivolous beach party. There are ridiculously old rums, like the $5,000 Appleton 50-Year Jamaica Independence Reserve. There are rums with interesting flavors, like Lola Belle cherry-flavored rum. There are versatile rums that are just as enjoyable neat as they are in cocktails, like Cruzan Single Barrel, from St. Croix. There are new rums from the 310-year-old company that invented rum, like Mount Gay Black Barrel from Barbados. There are rums from nightlife entrepreneurs, such as Rande Gerber’s Caliche Rum. There are delicious, limited-edition luxury rums from the world’s biggest producers, such as Bacardi Reserva Limitada. I could go on, but for now, let’s add just one more to the list, the rum that convinced me that 2013 will be the most rum-soaked summer since 1703: Shellback Caribbean Rum.

I hadn’t heard of Shellback before, but apparently the Barbados-based distiller has been around for a while, producing both clear and spiced rum. (The name refers to the title given to a sailor who crosses the equator for the first time.) On Friday night, I opened a bottle of Shellback Spiced rum and poured a shot or so into a small, rounded tumbler. The first thing to hit me was the aroma, a gorgeous melange of 12 spices that transform the sugarcane-based spirit into something out of this world. My first sip was just as satisfying: a warming vanilla base with various flavors emerging and subsiding, one by one. First citrus, then banana, then cinnamon, ginger, and the slightest hint of pepper. As always, I jotted down a few notes, but they didn’t go far beyond the general. "Sweet, smooth, and satisfying. Buttery with a nice little spice on the tip. Just what you want to sip."

Which is what I did. I sipped, and closed my eyes, and conjured visions of beaches and palm trees, and thought about all the great rums I’ve had recently, realizing that they’re all coming together this summer. Sorry, tequila. I love you, but this summer belongs to rum. Pick up a bottle of Shellback for about $20, or hit a bar like Cienfuegos in New York and try a few different varieties. Whatever is your normal drink of choice–whiskey, vodka, gin–I can all but guarantee you’ll find a rum you like. 

And when you do, raise a glass to what will certainly be the best summer of your life. Until next summer. 

[For lots of great places to drink rum, visit the BlackBook New York Guide. More by Victor Ozols. Follow me on Twitter.]

Lola Belle Cherry-Flavored Rum: Smooth, Girly, and Delicious

I tried a new rum last night called Lola Belle. It’s a Caribbean rum flavored with maraschino cherries, and I didn’t expect to like it–I’m not so big on the flavored stuff, and this rum in particular seemed a little girly–but I did, a lot. I liked it in spite of myself, because it’s well-balanced and not overly sweet. It starts off strong but smooth, like, say, Brugal white rum, and then ends on a sweet cheery note. Sweet, but not cloyingly so. It’s also very pretty. When poured over ice in a tall glass, which is how I tried it first, it looks like Campari, which is one of my favorite summer cocktails (with soda and lime, of course). Lola Belle isn’t a bitter, of course, but it does function well as a digestif. My notes say it’s "sophisticated and fun, with a citrus note." The label and branding of all of it shouldn’t matter of course, but it’s worth noting that the bottle is gorgeous, and the story behind it is nifty.

As the story goes, Lola Belle drove men wild in the Caribbean, so she was banished to America. (Watch the video below for more details on that.)

As much as I enjoyed Lola Belle on the rocks, it’s probably best as a base for cocktails. Their Facebook page has plenty of ideas (I’d like to try the Mary Pickford) but I just grabbed what I had in the refrigerator, which was orange juice and seltzer. My impromptu cocktail was quite good, and, again, very attractive in the glass. My wife came up with a good name for it: the Sunset Park, after the Brooklyn neighborhood. 

And so, while I do normally gravitate toward manly drinks like beer and whiskey, there’s nothing wrong with sweetening things up every now and then, and who really cares what’s in your glass if it makes you happy? So when the time comes for a kiss of cherry on your lips, pick up a bottle of Lola Belle at your local spirits purveyor. It’ll run you about $20, it goes great in cocktails, and has a fun invented history to ponder and expand upon while you’re drinking it. Whatever Lola wants. 

[Try Lola Belle and other great rums at New York bars like Mayahuel. For more great drinking spots, check out the BlackBook City Guides. Learn more about Lola Belle on her Facebook page. More stories by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter.]

Cruzan On A Tuesday Afternoon

After swimming in whiskey the last couple of days, it was a welcome change to try some new and noteworthy rum yesterday afternoon. Gary Nelthropp, master distiller of Cruzan Rum, dropped by to chat about the molasses-based spirit and the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands-based distillery it comes from. He brought with him mixologist bartender Jesse Card, who plied the BlackBook and VIBE staffs with a selection of inspired rum cocktails to get everybody in a summer mood. As I’ve said before, rum might be the funnest spirit to write about, because it comes from a beautiful place (the Caribbean and Central America) and elicits mental associations with beaches, palm trees, rum shacks, and the stress-free life we all aspire to.

Nelthropp didn’t disappoint with the stories. He’s a sixth generation Cruzan, which brings us to our first lesson: Cruzan (pronounced kru-zhun) is the term for a person from St. Croix, much like a Porteño lives in Buenos Aires. They’ve been making rum since 1760.  I’m no expert but I do know a little bit about how rum is made, and Nelthropp brought some excellent teaching tools with him to help bring my book/bar smarts to life.

First of all, he had some black strap molasses that he swirled onto a plate, fancy dessert style, for me to taste. It was sweet, sticky, and far more pleasant than I expected it to be. Still, I probably wouldn’t find much use for it in my kitchen. Good thing they turn it into rum.

And how do they turn it into rum? By using something called a column still (as opposed to the other kind of still, a pot still). A column still is a booze-making machine that separates the different parts of the distillate (raw booze) so the best parts can be isolated and used and the nasty parts discarded. Imagine a test tube, where the bottom and top thirds contain strong, pungent, yucky-tasting liquids, and the middle third is the sweet spot everybody loves. Not to get too technical on you, but a column still lets you take the sweet spot while leaving the yucky parts behind. Nelthropp brought sample bottles of "heads" and "tails" for me to smell, and they were shockingly offensive. People reacted like passed-out sitcom characters sniffing smelling salts.

But on to the good stuff: the rum. We tried a couple of different expressions, from the Cruzan Distiller’s Collection ($20 per bottle) to the Cruzan Single Barrel ($30). I found the Distiller’s Collection flavorful and easy to drink, but, being a fancy man of discriminating tastes, the Single Barrel is what I’d sip in a wicker chair under some massive beach umbrella (I don’t do well in the sun). It’s a blend of rums aged 5 to 12 years which are then rested for another year in new oak casks. All that time spent in barrels gives it a luscious texture and smooth flavors of vanilla and honey. The experience isn’t that much different than that of sipping a quality malt whisky.

Then mixologist bartender Jesse Card stepped up to the cutting board and worked some serious magic, chopping lemons, zesting limes, and creating a whole range of cocktails that brought both the boys and the girls into the conference room for samples.

My personal favorite was the Cruzan Single Barrel Old Fashioned, and it goes a little something like this: 

2 parts Cruzan Single Barrel Rum

1/4 part Muscavado

2:1 simple syrup

2 dashes orange bitter

2 dashes old fashioned bitters

Giant ice cube

Stir in mixing glass and strain into a old fashioned glass.

Cruzan (you are pronouncing it kru-zhun, right?) also makes a bunch of naturally-flavored rums, the kind that I pretend to be too sophisticated to like, but if you give me a drink made with the stuff and don’t say anything, I’m all "This is really good, man." Their latest flavors are Key Lime and Passion Fruit (the most passionate of all fruits). I’m particularly fond of Key Lime because that’s my favorite kind of pie. It also gives me a chance to explain to people the differences between Key limes and regular Persian limes.

It all went fast–both the rum, and our time together–but everybody had something to add. VIBE executive editor Datwon Thomas popped in to share a story about a recent trip to St. Croix, where the surprise cancellation of all their outdoor activities led to an impromptu party in the resort’s presidential suite–and a run on every single bottle of Cruzan rum from the gift shop.

And I couldn’t resist asking about what life is like living somewhere like St. Croix. As Nelthropp explained, it’s great (the "duh" is implied), and while living and working there isn’t quite the same as being on vacation all the time, their leisure time is spent doing fun beachy things, like swimming, scuba diving, and sailing. Also, it doesn’t snow very much. 

Sailing in particular is a thing, and Nelthropp advises anybody with a desire to sail upon the sea to charter a catamaran and island-hop throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. (Don’t tell anybody he said this, but he thinks the British Virgin Islands are a little bit better for sailing, because they have more secret coves to duck into and pretend to be a pirate.)

And so we learned a fair amount about Cruzan Rum and St. Croix, and now I want to go and visit the distillery and charter a boat and go scuba diving and drink rum punch and close my eyes and listen to the waves and work on becoming the mellowest person in the world.

Yet here I am at work. Ah well, he did leave me a bottle. Six o’clock can’t come soon enough. 

[Try Cruzan and other great rums at New York bars like Mayahuel; Related: BlackBook U.S.V.I. Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

George Clooney’s New Tequila Is Actually Quite Delicious

Celebrities. They’re so good at, well, being celebrities, with the acting and the smiling and the making people like them, but when they step out of that realm, the results can be mixed. Celebrity-owned restaurants have flopped, celebrity-designed clothing lines have been mocked, celebrity-driven charities have been exposed as farces. And yet they keep at it, because you’ve got to do something with your spare time. And so actor and humanitarian George Clooney has come out with a tequila which people will no doubt buy just because of his involvement, regardless of its quality. It’s called Casamigos, and I tasted it last night while watching celebrities celebrating themselves at the Oscars. But here’s the thing about George Clooney’s Casamigos Tequila: It’s excellent.

I’m not surprised, because he partnered with the right people to make it. Casamigos is a group effort, with Clooney hooking up with his longtime pal Rande Gerber, who owns the Gerber Group of bars (Whiskey Blue, Stone Rose, Lilium, etc.) as well as Mike Meldman, founder and CEO of Discovery Land Company. Gerber’s a serious authority on nightlife because his company has been successful at creating sleek and stylish bars, often found in W Hotels, that remain popular for the long term, while other nightlife operators are happy to make a quick hit before packing up and moving on. He’s also Clooney’s neighbor: they own vacation homes adjacent to one another in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The story goes that the two longtime pals loved tequila so much that they decided to make it for themselves, with their initial batches intended to share among family and friends. But the feedback was so positive that they expanded it into a proper enterprise, and now bars and restaurants across the country are beginning to stock Casamigos. Casamigos, which is made from 100% Blue Weber agave, comes in two expressions: blanco, which is the clear stuff, and reposado, which is "rested" in oak barrels for seven months before bottling.

I poured myself a small glass of the reposado as Seth MacFarlane started his monologue and gave it a swirl. It’s a gorgeous, light amber color, and it smells divine, with aromas of sandalwood and vanilla. On the palate it’s pure pleasure: smooth, smokey, and mildly sweet, featuring the vegetal note of the agave without the bitter ick factor found in cheap tequilas. I tasted faint whispers of artichoke and honey, as if the savory and the sweet were doing a sexy dance together. I gave my wife a taste. Her observation was that it tasted like George Clooney, by which I hope she meant it tasted smooth, sophisticated, complex, and fun. 

It’s not Gerber’s first foray into the spirit world. He partnered with Roberto Serralles to launch Caliche rum last year, which is also quite tasty. With Casamigos, he’s building a spirit empire to supply his nightlife empire. Sounds like synergy to me.

Casamigos Blanco has a suggested retail price of $48 a bottle, while Casamigos Reposado goes for an even $50. I’ve tasted tequilas that cost three times that, but they’re nowhere near three times as delicious. Nice job, guys. Maybe we can hang out and drink tequila some time. Those vacation houses in Mexico must have some guest rooms, right?

[Photo: Andrew Macpherson]

[Related: 310-Year-Old Mount Gay Comes Out With a Spiffy New RumGulp Down a Glass of the New Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 2002Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna Make Cool Mini-Movie for Chivas Scotch]

310-Year-Old Mount Gay Comes Out With a Spiffy New Rum

I love talking about rum, because rum has a great story behind it, and its story might best be embodied by Mount Gay, the Barbados distiller known as the "rum that invented rum." They’ve got a pretty good claim to that, as the oldest surviving official deed for the company dates to 1703, which happens to be 310 years ago. I visited Barbados in 2011 and had the pleasure of meeting Mount Gay’s master blender, Allen Smith, who showed me around the distillery and taught me quite a bit about rum. Yesterday, he returned the favor by visiting me in New York, dropping by the office to introduce the latest marque in the Mount Gay rum portfolio: Mount Gay Black Barrel.

Mount Gay Black Barrel is a tasty yet versatile rum, smooth enough for straight sipping and flavorful enough to mix into cocktails that still taste like rum cocktails. I tried it neat, and noticed a spicy, woody aroma and flavors of pepper, vanilla, and caramel. It doesn’t need ice, just a glass. However, at a suggested retail price of $30, it’s great for mixing, and I tried it with just about the simplest cocktail there is: rum and ginger ale. The flavors mingled harmoniously in my mouth, the ginger dancing with the spicy edge of the sugar cane-based spirit. Even in a cocktail, the rum kept its character, gracefully carrying on a lineage that dates back countless generations.

So why is it fun to talk about rum? Because you can impress people by telling them, over tumblers of rum, that rum is the original spirit of the Caribbean. It came about because sugar producers had a whole bunch of molasses, which is a byproduct of sugar production, that they didn’t know what to do with. They had so much sticky molasses that they’d dump barrels of it into the ocean, until some genius realized that you could distill it into alcohol. The white "kill devil" rum was shipped to the New World in barrels, and after long journeys, the recipients realized that the time it spent in wooden barrels made it smooth and less harsh tasting, as well as giving it a nice amber color. (You can also tell people that, unlike most spirits, rum is gluten-free.)

And the rest is history. Okay, there’s plenty of dark history involving the slave trade and the inhumane things people did to each other back then, but through it all, rum just kept getting better and better, with Mount Gay being joined by other producers, from Appleton in Jamaica to Bacardi in Cuba (and, later, Puerto Rico).

But as for the Mount Gay Black Barrel, it gets the name because it’s mellowed in charred bourbon oak barrels, which look black on the inside. But whatever the name, it’s a fine pour, punching well above its price point in quality. Mount Gay Black Barrel will be widely available in April, where you’ll be able to enjoy it in such bars as Manhattan’s Rum House. Can’t wait until then? Hang out with me. Allen left me a bottle. It won’t last long.

[Related: Rum, Sunsets, and Bliss in BarbadosFoster the People Downs Rum Cocktails at LexBar; Parceling Through our Favorite Rums; BlackBook Guide to Barbados]

Industry Insiders: Rande Gerber and Roberto Serralles, Spirited Entrepreneurs

Having mastered the art of owning and operating stylish bars and lounges, nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber (right) decided to enter the next closest line of business: producing and marketing his own spirit. "I love rum, but I wanted to do something different," Gerber says. "I decided that if I wanted to do well, I needed to team up with the best." The best, in this case, is represented by Roberto Serralles (left), a master of distilling, blending, and aging whose family has been producing rum in Puerto Rico for nearly 150 years. The result of their collaboration is Caliche, an aged white rum with citrus, caramel, and vanilla notes that’s smooth enough to enjoy on the rocks, while versatile enough to mix into daiquiris and other cocktails. "The idea is to make a really light distillate and then let the barrel do its magic," Serralles explains.

Caliche rum is available in the Gerber Group’s many venues, including Lilium in New York, Stone Rose Lounge in Los Angeles, and Whiskey Sky in Chicago. 

Ten Celebrities Who Should Buy Appleton’s New $5,000 Jamaican Rum

On August 6, 1962, the Commonwealth of Jamaica declared its independence from Britain. In the years and months leading up to that historic moment, the sage distillers at Appleton Estate set aside a few barrels of their finest rum as an alcoholic time capsule, with the idea that it would be opened, blended, and bottled in honor of the country’s 50th anniversary in 2012. As Jamaica’s golden anniversary approaches, Appleton is releasing the spirit in limited quantities (800 bottles) and at a lofty price tag ($5,000 each). I was fortunate enough to receive a (small) sample bottle of Appleton 50-Year Jamaica Independence Reserve Rum. My first thought, after "How does it taste?" was "Who is going to buy it?" 

In the realm of ludicrously expensive booze, when people are dropping crazy amounts of money on a bottle of something, it’s usually either a fine French wine or some ridiculously old Scotch whisky. (As for the latter, the Macallan just broke the world’s record for most expensive whisky ever sold at auction with its 64-year-old going for $460,000.) In my professional drinking career, I’ve had the good fortune of tasting a $17,500 Scotch (Highland Park 50-year-Old), a $700 gin (Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin), and an $800 orange liqueur (Grand Marnier Quintessence).  But I’ve never tasted a rum that sells for more than $200, so I was looking forward to sipping some of this extremely precious liquid.
So first of all, what does $5,000 rum taste like? The Appleton 50-Year-Old has a dark mahogany appearance and a strong, leathery aroma that makes it almost as much of a pleasure to smell as it is to drink. When you do actually drink it, you’ll notice an explosion of flavors, from vanilla and maple to cinnamon and citrus. It’s as smooth as the day is long, and the flavor lingers in your cheeks for minutes and in your mind forever. So let’s just say that it’s really, really good. In fact, it’s the best I’ve had. 
But who would buy it? Not me, I’m afraid. To me, $5,000 is a lot of money, but plenty of people drop that much in a night without thinking twice. And so, dear Appleton Rum marketing department, I’ve gone through the trouble of compiling a list of people you should approach with this amazing new (old) rum of yours.
When he founded Island Records in 1959, Blackwell brought ska and reggae to a worldwide audience, forging the careers of Bob Marley and many others along the way. Blackwell’s family on his mom’s side had been involved with Appleton Rum in the past, so not only does he have the money to buy a bottle or two, he’s got the family history to make it meaningful. Hit him up, Appleton.
The oldest son of Bob Marley, Ziggy’s not only an heir to a sizable fortune, he’s an active reggae musician himself. So maybe he grew up Rasta and abstains from alcohol most of the time. His purchase of this world-class product of Jamaica would be a ringing endorsement of one of the island’s premier industries. Ziggy ought to make an exception in this case and buy a bottle, even if he only serves it to guests. 
He’s one of the biggest reggae stars out there, and isn’t shy about being boombastic. A bottle of $5,000 rum from his homeland of Jamaica would look great on his coffee table. 
The artist once known as Snoop Doggy Dogg is in the midst of a major Jamaica thing right now, spending lots of time on the island filming a documentary tentatively titled Snoop in Jamaica. I’m not sure how strict he is about abstaining from alcohol as devout Rastas do, but if there’s any wiggle room, I’m sure he’ll find the Appleton 50 tastier than any gin ‘n’ juice he’s ever had. 
Busta’s from Red Hook, Brooklyn, but both of his parents are Jamaican, and his musical style is influenced by reggae rhythms and melodies. As one of the most successful rappers alive, he’s easily got the money to support the Jamaican economy with the purchase of a bottle or two. Pass the Courvoisier Appleton.
Thanks to his Major Lazer project with DJ Switch, Diplo has established himself as a force in Jamaican music. The duo’s first album, Guns Don’t Kill People … Lazers Do was recorded in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios and featured such notable Jamaican artists as Vybz Kartel. He’s worked with musicians as varied as Thom Yorke and Beyonce, which strongly suggests that he has both the means and the enthusiasm to procure and enjoy Jamaica’s finest rum. 
No, Nicki’s not Jamaican, she was born in Saint James, Trinidad, but she’s got that cool island thing going, and she absolutely tore it up at Jamaica Reggae Summerfest last year, so let’s give her a symbolic key to the island for her contributions. Anyway, this list is dominated by men, but women can appreciate a fine spirit as well as any of them. The Barbz would go nuts. 
Rihanna is from Barbados, which is not Jamaica. Barbados is, however, where rum was invented (or at least first officially produced) by Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd. in 1703, which means Riri knows it well. As a connoisseur, she’d look absolutely lovely sipping a glass of Appleton 50, and might even be inspired to write a song about it, which they probably wouldn’t mind at all.  
Rick Ross isn’t Jamaican either, but he is the bawse, which means he’s actively on the hunt for the best of everything, to consume conspicuously, in impressive quantities. Well, Mr. Ross, the next time you take over the VIP section of a nightclub like LIV in Miami Beach and avail yourself of the bottle service on offer, may I suggest steering clear of the vodka just once in favor of what may well be the best rum in the world? And can I come hang out with you? Okay, sorry. 
Even though he’s from Kenya Hawaii, President Obama remains wildly popular in the Caribbean. Instead of having a "beer summit" like he hosted with Skip Gates and that cop who arrested him in his own house that one time, he should have a rum summit centered around this elite bottle. And yes, I’d love to attend, so give me a ring, sir. I’m in the book.