This one can be savored neat as a sipping rum for after-dinner use or for a beachside romance under balmy Caribbean skies. If you want to incorporate it into a cocktail, I would suggest a wicked little creation of my own called the Voodoo Doll. Mix 11¼2 ounces of Brugal Añejo with 3¼4 ounce of dry white vermouth, a squeeze of lime, and a splash of triple sec over crushed ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Pins not included.
CRUZAN PINEAPPLE RUM ($12)
Cruzan comes from St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the distillery is one of the island's main tourist attractions. St. Croix has been under seven different flags since the time of Columbus, but in spite of the shifting political scene Cruzan has kept on making rum for more than 300 years. The distillery got on the flavored-spirits bandwagon early with its fruit-enhanced rums. At a relatively mild 55 proof, these make good mixers for cocktails where you want the emphasis to be on the fruit, not the alcohol.
A classic Caribbean cocktail is Planter's Punch. Place 2 ounces Cruzan Pineapple Rum, 3 ounces orange juice, juice of half a lemon, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a dash of grenadine in a shaker. Shake well and serve over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry and serve with straws. For variations, try one of the other Cruzan flavored rums: banana, coconut, or orange.
APPLETON ESTATE V/X ($17)
The enormous Appleton estate in Jamaica encompasses more than 11,000 acres of sugar cane as well as a sugar cane refinery and a distillery. This property is believed to be part of a land grant originally given to one Francis Dickinson for his participation in the British capture of Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. In 1916 the estate was purchased by the prominent Jamaican rum producers J. Wray & Nephew, who continue to operate it today. Interestingly, Appleton's master blender is a woman, Joy Spence, the first woman in the industry to hold this position.