The Spirited Traveller: Drinking in Boston's rum-soaked history

Fri Sep 9, 2011 2:36pm BST

1 of 2. 'Sleek modern-day tavern' The Woodward at the Ames Hotel, Boston is shown in this undated photo.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

Related Topics

( - One of America's oldest cities, Boston is practically drenched in history. And much of that history took place in New England's taverns and bars, lubricated by venerable rum. To a more moderate degree, that tradition continues today.

"Boston has always been a rum town," says Corey Bunnewith, bartender at Boston's Citizen Public House (<>). "Since the mid 1700s the amount of rum imported and consumed was quite something." According to some estimates, by 1717 the state of Massachusetts was producing 200,000 gallons of rum each year and Boston was home to more than 25 distilleries.

Building on this history, Boston now is seeing a resurgence of local distillers such as Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Bully Boy and Privateer, all of which produce rum.

Where to drink rum (or other spirits) in Boston? Bunnewith's recommendations include the steeped-in-history Stoddard's (<>). The building dates back to 1868, the bar to 1900, and inspiration from the drinks is taken from Jerry Thomas, who wrote the first cocktail book ever published. In addition to classic cocktails to pair with "classic American" food, look for the menu of American-style ales and lagers.

Other popular watering holes include The Woodward (<>) at the Ames Hotel, a sleek "modern-day tavern" that serves traditional New England seafood and modern drinks like the "One Court" (Ron Zacapa 23-year-old rum, honey syrup and fresh lime); the speakeasy-style Storyville (90 Exeter Street) in the Back Bay area for dining, drinking, music and dancing; and No 9 Park (<>). The latter, located in an elegant townhouse in Boston's historic Beacon Hill, is part of Chef Barbara Lynch's growing Boston restaurant empire, which also includes the celebrated craft cocktail bar Drink (<>).

Although rum punches abound throughout New England's cocktail history, here's a modern version to try. This fruity version is sourced from RumBa (<>). The name is a play on "rum bar", said with a classic Bostonian accent - the last "r" is silent.

RECIPE: Rum Punch (Courtesy of RumBa, InterContinental Hotel)

½ oz. Plantation Grand Reserve Barbados Rum

½ oz. Flavoured Rum

½ oz. Orange juice

½ oz. Pineapple juice Splash of Grenadine

Stir together all ingredients with ice.

(Kara Newman is the author of "Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails", available <here>. The opinions expressed are her own.) (Editing by Peter Myers)