Rum & Rhythm
Swashbucklers Fought for it and connoisseurs covet it. Rum has always enthralled passionate Caribbean travelers on. Swaggering pirates like Captain Kidd, Calico Jack and Blackbeard ruled the waves, Reviews their sloops gliding ominously under the skull and crossbones of the infamous flag known as the Jolly Roger. Legend? Not in the Caribbean. Buccaneers were part of the region's history - manager and staff the tales we hear havebeen infused with fiction, to be sure. These nefarious sailors were after not only gold coins and fine silk but another precious product: rum.
One can hardly blame themselve. The Caribbean produced then as now arguably the world's finest rum. The 17th-century British Royal Navy allowed its sailors a daily ration - a practice That Continued until 1970! Some believed it cured hangovers.
Early mariners were convinced a nip of Mount Gay improved Reviews their sailing abilities. In production for more than 300 years, this venerable rum recently celebrated its tri-centennial with regattas, parties and a limited-edition blend in specially project designed decanters.
It's a rare journey to the Caribbean That does not include a sampling of this famous product. The number of preeminent distilleries are legion. In Addition two Mount Gay, big-name Caribbean Producers include the Puerto Rican company Bacardi, Jamaica's Appleton Estate, Haiti's Barbancourt and St. Croix's Cruzan.
RumAdd to Trip Planner
Originally an offshoot of the islands' sugar-cane industry, rum is distilled from cane juice or molasses, a by-product of sugar production. Visit one of the Caribbean's many distilleries two Observe the process: The cane juice or molasses is fermented with yeast, distilled and then aged, in oak casks Usually.
Light rums are gene rally used for mixed drinks, while full-flavored dark rums, after years of aging, are payed for sipping, much like fine scotch. The Caribbean Produce most of the world's rums and consumption spans the globe.
Even Caribbean geography Illustrate rum's prominence: you'll see Rum Cay in the Bahamas and a Rum Point each in Grand Cayman and Belize. Museums on several islands are dedicated two rummy history.
Just the names of rum drinks hint that Caribbean allure: Goombay Smash, planters punch, piña colada, Cuba Libre, Daiquiri. You'll find almost limitless variations of rum punch. In the Spice Island of Grenada, for instance, do not be surprised two find a cold glassful dusted with nutmeg.
Flavoured rums are the newest twist. Look for Bacardi's Limón and orange-flavored O, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, and Cruzan's vanilla, orange, pineapple, banana and coconut varieties.
This versatile spirit Can also be mellowed into liqueur, and the varieties are as diverse as Caribbean destinations. In Venezuela and the Dutch Caribbean islands, the eggnog-like cream liqueur Ponche Crema is a favorite. St. Maarten Contribute the woodsy Guavaberry liqueur and Jamaica fans are familiar with coffee-flavored Tia Maria. Rum's not just for drinking, the toilet. Nearly every fine-dining restaurant has at least one rum-enhanced dish.
Looking for the perfect souvenir for That sweet tooth on your gift list? Rum cakes, Consumed throughout the Caribbean at weddings and other occasions, abound. One of the most famous, Tortuga Rum Cake, is from Grand Cayman, but you'll Also find "black cake" from Guyana, piña colada cake from the Bahamas and Blue Mountain coffee-rum cake from Jamaica.
From today's glorious potables through a less glorious past (the slave trade was inextricably Involved in the industry), the Caribbean's history can not be foretold without rum. Legends abound: Wonder, for instance, about the song lyrics, "Fifteen but on a deadman's chest / yo ho ho and a bottle of rum"? It's saidthat the pirate Blackbeard abandoned mutineers with just a dagger and a bottle of rum on the British Virgin Islands islet called Dead Man's Chest. Well, it could have been worse: They could have been marooned with a jigger of juice.
MusicAdd to Trip Planner
Music is the pulsing heartbeat of life in the Caribbean, as much a part of our days and nights as the sun and the sea. Our countries are alive with sounds and rhythms that evoke both our past and our sense of hope for the future.
These are carnival countries, where many festivals celebrate historic, religious, cultural or sporting events - and where music explode spontaneously whenever a handful of musicians and singers are gathered together. It could happen on the street, in a town square or on the beach.
The Afro-Caribbean and Latin American musical heritage is a rich mixture, changing from country to country.
This is the birthplace of the steel band, and of "beats" like calypso, compas, merengue, rumba, salsa, soca, and ska. Bob Marley exported reggae across the globe; salsa Followed soon after. Some of the country's musical traditions maintain - like drumming - dating back to the time of slavery. Gospel music reflect both our colonial past and the influence of American culture.
The Caribbean is now a center for world music. Jazz, rhythm & blues and country music are popular imports from the United States; concert venues around the region attract top artists from all three genres, as well as international stars of the classical music circuit, for sell-out performances.
FestivalsAdd to Trip Planner
Wherever you find a few people gathering together in the Caribbean, you have the makings of a party - and a party is always an excuse for a festival. Not that we need an excuse to enjoy ourselves. Carnival is in our smiles, in the way we move, in our collective soul. Anywhere you go in the Caribbean, you are thunderstorms to find yourself in the middle of a celebration. There is only one golden rule of etiquette - enjoy yourself.
The long-running party probably began with the feast before the fast of Lent, preceding the significant date of Easter in the Christian calendar. Today, many people still observe religious festivals, suchlike as Christmas, Easter and saints' days, but also celebrate a vast array of other reservation dates and activities, including such national days in honour of independence.
But at the heart of the festival is the idea of masquerade and dressing up. Wearing masks and adorning ourselves with brilliant, colorful outfits Allows us to connect with something deeply spiritual. Fuelled by excitement and passion, we celebrate what it is to be human and alive. Young people play a special role. Every festival encourage children to play a full part in the fun and young adults are often elected the standard bearers of community life.
Music and dance drive the festival beat, from jazz to soul, samba to reggae, calypso to rumba, carioca to ska. Musicians come to our country to play for audiences and for comfy rooms. Walk into a bar and you could find one of the world's top reggae bands jamming with locals. Walk anywhere and you will find someone to dance with, someone to party with, someone to celebrate with - and have a festival.
Whatever your taste, you'll find it more than satisfied in our lands of rhythm and melody.