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Rum Ramblings

“Away, away with rum by gum, by gum, by gum-- Away, away with rum, the song of the Temperance Union, We never eat fruitcake because it has rum, And one little bite turns a man to a bum. Can you imagine a sadder disgrace, Than a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face?”

When I was a little boy in Milwaukee, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union crusaded against Demon Rum. It was not that many years since the repeal of the Great Experiment, Prohibition. This is my recollection of one of the lyrics to one of their songs; a catchy little number.

If you happen to enjoy the occasional rum drink, like I do, then Montserrat is a good place to compare rums from different places, as they are inexpensive and in good supply. All of the grocers carry a wide assortment, and if you are more adventuresome, then there are little “rum shops” dotting the island—that is, little bars that double as restaurants, bakeries, and so on. I have, had breakfast or lunch at several of them, and have found the food to be good and the service pleasant.

My personal rum drink of choice is Navy Grog, which dates back to the British Royal Navy. Sailors were given a daily allowance (or tot) of rum. Grog is simple and lets the flavors of the different rums come through. It’s rum and the juice of a key lime, over ice, with some water to make a taller, more refreshing drink. Of course, if you drink too many you will become groggy. The limes were consumed to provide vitamin C—a deficiency of vitamin C causes a disease called scurvy, which if I recall results in bad things like loss of teeth. Since the sailors ate limes, they were called Limeys. So now, when it’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day” and you say, “Aarrgh, avast ye scurvy dog,” you know where that comes from.

My brother and sister-in-law tend to prefer girly sweet-rum drinks, and I have found that rum, lime juice, Grenadine syrup, and an orange concentrate called Sunny Delight makes a Rum Sunrise that is greatly appreciated. No real Limey would touch it, but to each his or her own. I have drawn the line: no little umbrellas in drinks in Moonshadow.


For the truly adventuresome, I stumbled across Bush Rum on my most recent trip. It’s not named in honor of former US Presidents, but is actually a home-made rum tonic. Apparently each person who makes it has his/her own recipe, starting with commercial rum (cheaper and stronger the better, would be my guess) and steeping it with select herbs and spices collected from the island. The sample I had started life as a white rum and was now a Chartreuse green, and a bit bitter, with some odd plant bits floating in it, in a little plastic juice bottle.

I assume that it does the usual: makes you a man again, grows hair, causes or cures blindness, etc. I didn’t actually ask, It’s sort of an ask-for item, and not really sold commercially. You might be able to find some at a rum shop. I don’t know the legal status, I was given a bit as a favor between friends. Since I’m a bit over 80, bald as an egg, and recently had cataract surgery, I need all the help that Bush Rum might afford.

From the Rum Desk at Moonshadow, this is Bruce, offering you a toast of your favorite island beverage.

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