Rum Swizzle: Exploring The History Of Bermuda’s National Drink
Image Credit: iStock

The paradise island of Bermuda is famed for its colourful coral reefs, stunning pink sand beaches, and rich cultural heritage. The island haven also boasts an enthralling food and drink scene, with fish chowder and fried fish sandwich being amongst its staples. When it comes to drinks, the insatiable rum swizzle has risen to claim the crown of the country’s top beverage. This drink is deeply tied to Bermuda’s history, and its rapid evolution is reflective of the country’s varied heritage and seafaring traditions.

Bermuda as well as the Caribbean region as a whole, has a storied history of rum production. Therefore, it is natural that the national drink of Bermuda, the rum swizzle, heavily features rum. Rum is also the island nation’s top export, with much of the sugarcane needed for rum production imported from other countries. Bermudan rum is revered the world over for its refreshing taste and flavour; the rum’s richness is derived from the special double distillation method, which infuses it with an original and an unforgettable taste profile.

Here’s a sneak peek at the different aspects of the rum swizzle.

When Did This Drink Originate?

The rum swizzle dates back to the 18th century when sailors journeyed across the Bermudan seas. The name of the cocktail is believed to have been derived from a colloquial phrase, “swizzle stick,” which means a device used to blend and cool drinks. The initial iterations of this cocktail were quite simple—they comprised local rum and water. The drink was later innovated to include the local produce of Bermuda, including ingredients, such as citrus juices and sugar. These elements helped craft a revitalising drink for sailors seeking refuge during their frequently stormy expeditions.

The Legend Of The Swizzle Inn

A name that is inextricably connected to rum swizzle is the celebrated Swizzle Inn. Situated in Bailey’s Bay, Bermuda, it is widely believed to be the birthplace of the rum swizzle. Remarkably, this acclaimed establishment has been serving versions of the enticing rum swizzle since the 1930s. Legend goes that sailors used to assemble here to share anecdotes of their adventures while sipping on a local rum concoction. The makers of the inn, realising the demand for the drink, crafted the beloved swizzle rum recipe to continue drawing their patrons to the inn.

The Recipe Of The Rum Swizzle

The essential recipe of the rum swizzle has more or less remained stable over time. For the most part, it incorporates Bermuda rum, fruit juices, and some sweet element, such as sugar or syrup. However, as is the case with most cocktails, every bar and mixologist adds their own unique twist to the classic drink. For example, some mixologists may favour a combination of dark and light rum, while others may prefer various citrusy blends. Generally, the ideal rum swizzle must convey a symphony of flavours while simultaneously satiating the palate and staying true to the spirit of Bermuda.

Image Credits: iStock

Rum Swizzle Traditions

Bermudan locals regard the rum swizzle as more than just a drink; it holds national importance for them as it is recognised as the country’s national drink. To this effect, the locals are protective of the traditions surrounding this drink, from the manner in which the swizzle stick is used to stir the ingredients to the selection of glassware, typically draped in Bermudan colours. The drink is highly esteemed among the locals as it epitomises the island’s warmth, hospitality, and spirit of community.

Image Credits: iStock

Global Relevance Of The Rum Swizzle

Over time, the rum swizzle has transcended its humble roots and grown in stature to enjoy global acclaim. Mixologists all over the world have taken to this cocktail, devising variations of the drink for both tropical as well as urban locales. The demand for the drink not only stems from its invigorating taste, but also from the enchanting image of Bermuda it evokes in the hearts of drinkers. It is truly remarkable how the swizzle has transformed from a small-time local drink meant to satiate weary sailors to a legendary cocktail that is relished the world over.