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Where to drink
RHUM CORNER 926 Dundas West, theblackhoof.com
I can think of a million excellent reasons to drink rum, but I’ll start with a handful.
Rum boasts more distinctive styles than any other spirits category. It must be distilled from some form of sugar cane, but other than that, its independence from categorical stipulation makes it one of the more surprising and limitless alcoholic expressions.
Unlike its aged peers whisky and brandy, rum’s roots are close to home.
“Rum is the history of America in a glass,” writes Wayne Curtis in And A Bottle Of Rum. “It was invented by New World colonists for New World colonists.”
While many boozy beverages retain an air of staunch seriousness, rum implies lighthearted frolic and scantily clad skin – think Tiki huts, palm-fringed beaches and poolside punches.
Rum is a bartenders’ darling – versatile, charismatic, tasty as hell – but still it struggles to shake its reputation as a cheap, unrefined spirit that needs a sugary mix to be palatable. Rum just doesn’t get the respect it deserves.
Luckily Rhum Corner, the brainchild of Jen Agg and her husband, Roland Jean, is opening beside Agg’s lauded Black Hoof this September in the space previously occupied by the Hoof Raw Bar and Hoof Cafe. The Haitian restaurant will house a “showcase of rums that are magically delicious,” says Agg.
Rums like Barbancourt (Haiti), Zacapa (Guatemala), Karukera (Guadeloupe) and the insanely great Dominican Kirk & Sweeney’s 12-year-old will be available for Toronto’s sipping pleasure.
“Getting people excited about a spirit that’s universally reviled is extremely motivating,” say Agg. “Rum’s strength is that it offers the diversity of a sipper or mixer.”
Agg’s Cocktail Bar is where you’ll continue to find her delectable mixed drinks (try her Rumhattan if you haven’t) the focus of Rhum Corner’s bar will be quality rum, pure and simple. Various rums will be available by the quarter, half and full bottle, and a slushie machine will pump out daiquiris and piña coladas.
The County General (936 Queen West, 416-531-4447, thecountygeneral.ca) also has a solid selection of rum in their wall of brown spirits. Rum flights consist of half-ounce tastes of four rums ($18 or $35 for premium brands).
It’s time to invite rum off the sidelines and into the spotlight. You won’t regret becoming properly acquainted.