The Dark ’n Stormy trifecta of dark rum, ginger beer and lime is icy, spicy perfection. But switch it up a bit with bitters, infusions, fruit juice or even another brown spirit stand-in, and the usual three-ingredient cocktail becomes so much more. These cocktails kick up their level of cool.
Matt Giarratano, the beverage director at Phoenixville, Pa.’s Bluebird Distilling, wanted to remove the endless sun-and-beach associations with his favorite tropical flavors—rum, coconut and pineapple—and added an element of what he calls everyday drinkability. “Introducing dryness through the bitters and ginger beer creates a balance that brings an everyday familiarity to the tropicality of the drink—something of an urban Tiki vibe,” he says. Bourbon, rum and Tiki bitters balance the sweet, and the name is a nod to the Philadelphia suburb where the distillery and cocktail bar are located.
BlackTail, the Lower Manhattan retro Cuban bar from the team behind The Dead Rabbit, is known to modernize classics like the Rum & Coke. For its contemporary riff on the Dark ’n Stormy, bartender Nate Dobson added passion fruit, bitters and a blend of funky Jamaican spirits to the usual ginger and rum base. “This cocktail warms you from the inside out,” he says.
Tokyo Record Bar beverage director Ashtin Berry was inspired by the izakaya cuisine at this New York City lounge where vinyl rules. She loves the way heat coaxes out white miso’s butterscotch notes. “The Dark ’n Stormy has this perfect blend of baking spiced fruit and ginger spice,” says Berry. “I decided to use the white miso and sweet potato notes of the sochu along with the bitterness of the Cynar liqueur to create a more savory version.”
Named after the famed female pirate of the Caribbean, Jacquotte Delahaye, this libation adapted from The Bluffton Room at Hilton Head Island in Bluffton, S.C., has Redlock spiced rum from Hilton Head Distillery, a vanilla-forward spirit with tones of allspice and nutmeg.
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Named for the command that Daenerys Targaryen uses to get her dragons to breathe fire in “Game of Thrones,” this kicky concoction kinda does the same thing, says Jenn Harvey, the bar manager at Temple Bar in Cambridge, Mass. “While too much spice tends to kill people's palates, this cocktail has an initial gentle heat that builds as you drink it, ultimately leading one to breath fire.”