Even more surprising is the fact that we have the Royal British Navy to thank for them. The story is an interesting one, closely tied to the history of the Caribbean. After the English annexed Jamaica, in the mid-17th century, English sailors started receiving a daily half-pint ration of Caribbean rum, called a "tot." Rum's advantage was that it didn't go stale like beer and water; its disadvantage was that it was certainly a lot stronger, especially if you downed it all in one gulp, as many sailors were wont do to. Admiral Edward Vernon came up with a plan to minimize rum's potentially debilitating effect. He decreed that the rum ration would be cut with a quart of water. Vernon suggested that sugar and lime be added to make the new onboard beverage more palatable.
The admiral used to wear a waterproof cloak made of a material called grogam, earning him the nickname "Old Grogam." His newly invented rum drink became known as "grog" and the British sailors who drank it were dubbed "limeys." Much to their chagrin, the rum ration was officially suspended, after nearly 300 years, on July 31, 1970, also known as Black Tot Day. Fortunately, the rest of world had long since discovered the joy of mixed rum drinks, including the daiquiri, the mai tai, the Cuba libre, and the zombie, to name a few.
ANGOSTURA 1824 ($60)
Angostura is probably better known for its aromatic bitters than for its rum. The company's founder, a German named Dr. Johann Siegert, arrived in Venezuela in 1820 and was later appointed surgeon general in the town of Angostura. Siegert perfected his bitters in 1824 as a remedy for fever, stomachache, and a roster of other complaints.