A Dark ’n Stormy Story

An island tale of patents, ‘postrophes, and potent potables

Will Shenton, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to know more, read on. If you’re just here for a recipe, here it is. Mix away, and Cheers.

The Recipe

  • 1 1/2 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • 4-5 oz. Ginger Beer
  • Lime wedge

Add the Ginger Beer to a glass filled with ice. Rub the lime wedge around the edge of the glass and squeeze a little juice, then slowly pour Rum on top so that it layers. Add the lime wedge to the top.

The Dark ’n Stormy is a cloudy drink with a clear history and an even more clearly defined recipe. It’s also quite delicious.

The Experience

The Dark ’n Stormy has the feel and flavor of island reality. It’s not your overly-sweet, ice-cream-headache Daiquiri, or your boozy, drunk-on-vacation Mai Tai. And it’s definitely not Margaritaville. Instead, this drink says that you know your way around the back roads of this island, and have more than once had to stop for milk on the way home from the beach. If you don’t own a boat you know where to borrow one for the price of a handshake and a six pack (or a bottle of Gosling’s). You might have a “rather be surfing” sticker on your laptop, and this island is more than a vacation spot for you.

You haven’t been to an island since 2019, so get that experience at home.

Put on your island wear, but the practical stuff; something you’d be comfortable lounging in but wouldn’t need to change if someone popped over to your seaside veranda and asked if you wanted to go fishing, play pool, or to meet her cousin from the mainland. Also flip flops. If you have more than one pair, the good ones.

Decorate your bar with bright sunshine. If it’s too cold to open a window, get a sunlamp or a painting of a beach scene (you have one somewhere). Your glass should be frosty, full of ice, and sweating just a little… and your forehead should be just about the same. Close your eyes and remember an exotic place that you once called home, or at least that you visited long enough to feel a part of. Get your head into the space where new experiences have the comfort of home and even a drink you’ve never had before is about to treat you like an old friend.

The Name and the Patent

The Dark ’n Stormy is one of the few drinks that have been granted a patent for ingredients and recipe. In 1991, Gosling Brothers Ltd. was awarded a patent on Dark ‘n Stormy that specified the use of 1.5 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (full official recipe above). The patent does not specify a brand of Ginger Beer, even though Gosling’s makes quite a good version. Interestingly enough, it’s patented down to the spelling using a single apostrophe making some people wonder if the unabbreviated name would be Dark an Stormy, Dark in Stormy, Dark on Stormy, or maybe even Dark yn Stormy. But mental beachcombing like that only comes after several experimental drinks, so we will discuss the rules of apostrophes no further…

Though many bartenders have used other brands of Rum, they cannot officially market it as a Dark ’n Stormy using any other recipe. You’ll find similar recipes listed as “Safe Harbor” or sometimes just “Rum and Ginger”. I wonder would they be so brave to try it with two apostrophes and consider that different enough to keep Gosling’s Rum-soaked lawyers at bay. Dammit David! I said No Further!

The History

As for how this all started, the Gosling’s website says that in 1806, a ship commanded by James Gosling carrying £10,000 worth of merchandise was forced to land in Bermuda because the seas were so calm that their charter ran out of time. A situation known as being “becalmed” that I didn’t even know was a word — Who says drinking isn’t educational? So ironically neither a Dark nor Stormy start to Gosling’s business in Bermuda. Around the end of WWI, the mix of Ginger Beer with Gosling’s signature Rum became popular, possibly due to the stomach-calming properties of the Ginger Beer (also a Bermuda-based product).

Enough About Lawyers and Apostrophes, Let’s Drink

The recipe from Gosling’s makes the only officially legal Dark ’n Stormy. There is an option to rub the lime around the rim which I would suggest doing.

I have experimented with different types of Ginger Beer and even with other Rums (thus mixing a drink that is not officially a Dark ’n Stormy but that is close in recipe — so as not to get into any trouble with any of those Rum-soaked lawyers). I can honestly say after a fair amount of experimentation (careful, these will sneak up on you) that I prefer the official recipe with Gosling’s Rum.

Once you have that settled, changing up the Ginger beer makes a noticeable difference. Some of my COVID-bubble neighbors prefer the Gosling’s Ginger Beer version, some prefer Bundaberg on hand from my last Costco run, while others like Fever Tree from the organic store nearby. In any case, you can vary the type and amount of Ginger Beer to give you a satisfying and refreshing drink no matter your palate.

My suggestion is to figure out a Ginger Beer that you like and then slowly add Rum until you like the drink and write down the proportions for yourself. This is important, write it down. The dark Rum will cut the spiciness of the Ginger Beer and the lime will smooth the whole thing out and get you right back into island mode where you can forget about either Rum-soaked apostrophes or abbreviated lawyers.

It’s also fun to serve it before stirring because it makes a nice presentation.

Of course, these are one man’s opinions and sanctioned only by me and those who drink at my home bar (and in this case a team of lawyers who happen agree with my findings— does that make me evil?). I probably should cut down on the mid-week experimentation. Cheers!

Loves writing, loves teaching, and loves his 7-year-old daughter. All of which are potential topics of hopefully entertaining posts.

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