I wouldn’t exactly compare my experience trying to come up with a version of the Dark and Stormy that I could really love to my personal Vietnam. Afghanistan, maybe? Nah, but the more time I spent on it, it was clear that what started out seeming like a noble effort was a truly fruitless endeavor.
That’s not to say I think you should avoid the Dark and Stormy. If the ingredients sound good to you, give it a whirl. In fact, if you make at the proportions below, I think it’s a reasonable alternative to a gin and tonic, which is not a bad thing at all. It’s just that I think this drink ought to be more of a sweet and sour super-treat, given its ingredients. Somehow, however, the bitter and tart flavors always seem to predominate and it just never quite comes together.
Below, for what it’s worth, is the best version of this I’ve found based on many experiments. For some reason, it’s a pretty close approximation of the Wondrich take. It’s not a classic in any sense as far as I can tell, but it’s drinkable.
The Dark and Stormy
2 ounces dark rum
3 ounces ginger beer (add more if you like, but I don’t think it will be an improvement)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Combine ingredients in a Collins glass — a big rocks glass may be just as good — with ice and stir. Drink and see if it weathers the storm for you.
As I mentioned above, I tried this drink in an enormous number of iterations, taking a few sips and dumping nearly whole drinks and killing nearly half of the Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, the more or less official rum of the Dark and Stormy, on which I spent $18.00 of my own money. Nearly as expensive as the ginger beer.
Yeah, you read that right. When I made the similar but, to my taste buds, far sturdier Moscow Mule for this blog some time ago, I accurately joked that ginger beer, which is in the same non-alcoholic family as ginger ale and root beer, can cost more than actual beer. That’s true. This time, though, I tried three brands all hailing from the Dark and Stormy’s mother island of Bermuda. They’re actually kind of worth the money. Gosling’s has their own brand, which is tasty enough and a bit cheaper. But I really, really dug both the classic Burmudan option of Barritt’s and I really, really, really, super dug Regatta Ginger Beer. A really top-notch soda with a lot of tastes going on in it, including a zesty aftertaste I can’t quite identify.
Sadly, however, when I actually combined the ginger beer with my approved brand of rum, as described above, the result wasn’t some kind of delightful alchemy — just another okay kind of a mixed drink. Since David Wondrich had mentioned that Bermudans generally limited the lime to simply a garnish and basically just had a ginger beer and rum highball, I tried it that way and found it not much better or even particularly sweeter, which was weird. I tried it with Cruzan Black Strap Rum which I’ve had got luck with earlier but that was, frankly, a non-starter. Then I tried my usual fall back dark rum of Whaler’s. Not bad, but it was, in fact, better with Gosling’s.
I will say there are two things you should not do that I actually tried. You should not attempt a Dark and Stormy with ginger ale. The results are surprisingly almost nasty. Moving on, you should definitely not use Rose’s Lime Juice , which is sweetened, and ginger ale. This was actually given to me in an impromptu attempt by me to request the drink at a local nightclub. The club will remain nameless, as it’s actually a very good place to see live bands and it was my fault for not specifying that the lime juice shouldn’t be sweetened.
On the other hand, the perkiest version of this that I’ve tasted was made at the very good Westside Tavern on Pico Boulevard, over the hill from Drink of the Week Central. This high end Dark and Stormy was not even made with ginger beer, but with a house made ginger puree, which definitely upped the ginger flavor. Not bad.
Is it getting to the point where I can only patronize craft bars?