Rum Swizzle

Bermuda Rum Swizzle
A Rum Swizzle, as served in Bermuda
Type Cocktail
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard drinkware
Highball Glass (Tumbler).svg
Highball glass
Commonly used ingredients
  • 4oz. Gosling's Black Seal Rum
  • 4oz. Gosling's Barbados Rum
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 5oz. pineapple juice
  • 5oz orange juice
  • 2oz. Bermuda falernum
  • 6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Preparation Mix in pitcher with crushed ice, shake vigorously until a frothing head appears. Strain into cocktail glasses. Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry. Serves 6.

A Rum Swizzle (sometimes not capitalized) is a rum-based cocktail often called "Bermuda's national drink".[1][2][3][4][5][6] The Royal Gazette has referred to it as "the legendary rum swizzle...perfect for sharing and irresistible to locals and tourists alike"[7] In addition to providing the "swizzle" portion of the 1933 swizzle stick product name,[8] it has been said that this potent cocktail is "as much a part of Bermuda Island culture and cuisine as is the Bermuda onion, the vibrant hibiscus, or the graceful Bermuda Longtail."[9]



Different bartenders have varying interpretations of this drink. One of the older recipes was presented in the 1941 Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender Guide.[10] Gosling's Rum, which is based in Bermuda, publishes a recipe with two different rums from their brand line.[11] Rum, fruit juice (often including lime, and orange and pineapple juice), and a flavored sweetener such as falernum or grenadine are the most consistent ingredients,[11][12][13] and the drink is generally shaken or stirred with ice.


Icy drink mixtures with rum, first identified as swizzles and later as Rum Swizzles, have been mentioned in literature in a variety of locations since the mid 18th century: Fort Ticonderoga, New York (1760),[14] the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts (1838),[15] Bridgetown, Barbados (1841),[16] Great Britain (1862),[17] Bridgeport, Barbados (1908),[18] and the island of Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (1911).[19] In these earliest versions, the drink typically consisted of one part of rum diluted with five or six parts water (sometimes with additional aromatic ingredients), which was mixed by rotating a special forked stick made from a root between the palms;[15][16] another account describes it as spruce beer with added rum and sugar.[14]

In his 1909 book, Beverages, Past and Present: An Historical Sketch of Their Production, Brotherhood Winery owner Edward R. Emerson asserted that Rum Swizzles originated on the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts.[20] American naturalist and writer Frederick Albion Ober noted in 1920 that the great drink of the Barbados ice houses was the swizzle, a combination of liquors, sugar, and ice whisked to a froth by a rapidly revolved "swizzle-stick" made from the stem of a native plant, perhaps Quararibea turbinata (the "swizzlestick tree") or an allspice bush.[21][22] The etymology of the word "swizzle" is unknown, but it may derive from a similar beverage known as switchel.[23]

Rum Swizzles were the drink of choice at what was purportedly the world's first cocktail party held in London, England in 1924 by novelist Alec Waugh.[24] A reference to a (possibly fictitious) "Green Swizzle" drink dates to 1925 (see "Other Swizzles" below).[25] The Rum Swizzle is also mentioned in Sinclair Lewis's 1925 novel Arrowsmith, which is set in the fictional Caribbean island of St. Hubert.[26][27] In 1930, the drink was referenced in a book written by Joseph Hergesheimer, which refers to the drink containing Bacardi rum and bitters, as well as a swizzle stick made of sassafras.[28] The Rum Swizzle was also mentioned in the 1931 autobiographical novel Half a Loaf, penned by Sinclair Lewis's former wife Grace Hegger Lewis about their life together.[29]

Today the Rum Swizzle is often associated with The Swizzle Inn of Bailey's Bay, Bermuda,[30] whose motto is "Swizzle Inn, Swagger Out."[31] The Swizzle Inn is known as "the home of the Rum Swizzle" and as noted by the Bermuda Hotel Association:

The Swizzle Inn pub sold its first Rum Swizzle in 1932 and the rest, as they say, is history...Now it's the perfect place to whet your whistle with our national drink: the potent Rum Swizzle!

Other Swizzles

Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide presents several variant swizzle recipes including the Kingston Swizzle (made with Jamaican rum and hot water), the Kona Swizzle (incorporating almond syrup), and the Martinique Swizzle (flavored with Herbsaint, Pernod or anisette). According to that guide:

Swizzles originated in the West Indies, where everything, including hot chocolate, is swizzled. A swizzle stick is the branch of a tropical bush with three to five forked branches on the end. You insert this in the glass or pitcher and twirl the stem rapidly between the palms of your hands. By rapid swizzling with fine ice, you'll get a good outside frost such as on a Julep. Of course you won't get this frost if you haven't used enough liquor; a generous amount of liquor is important...Most true Swizzles, because of their origin, call for rum; but nearly all punches can be swizzled. Punches for three or four people can be mixed in a pitcher with fine ice and swizzled until the pitcher frosts, and then poured into tall glasses...Simple, good, really a good drink.

The Spirit of Bermuda cookbook says that the "Bermuda swizzle stick" with which this drink is traditionally stirred and garnished is a three-pronged stick often cut from an allspice bush.[22] The Green Swizzle, a drink for which the recipe "has been lost in history" (if it ever existed) is mentioned by Bertie Wooster in "The Rummy Affair of Old Biffy" by P. G. Wodehouse:

I have never been in the West Indies, but I am in a position to state that in certain of the fundamentals of life they are streets ahead of our European civilization...A planter, apparently, does not consider he has had a drink unless it contains at least seven ingredients, and I'm not saying, mind you, that he isn't right. The man behind the bar told us the things were called Green Swizzles; and, if ever I marry and have a son, Green Swizzle Wooster is the name that will go down in the register...

The Trader Vic's guide quoted above also has a recipe for a Green Swizzle (this one incorporating green crème de menthe) but specifies it is "not what Bertie (Wooster) had at Wembley."[13]

See also


  1. ^ Bermuda Sun
  2. ^ The Swizzle Inn
  3. ^
  4. ^ Scripps Networks, Inc.
  5. ^ a b Official web site of the Bermuda Hotel Association
  6. ^ My first taste of Bermuda's national drink
  7. ^ The Royal Gazette
  8. ^ Levine, Joshua. (November 12, 1990) Forbes Stirring story. (swizzle stick maker Spir-it Inc.) (company profile). Volume 146; Issue 11; Page 308 (writing, "By 1937 Sindler had left his job at Converse Rubber to go into the swizzle business full time. (The name swizzle was borrowed from the Caribbean cocktail, rum swizzle.)").
  9. ^ Bermuda Rum Swizzle Mix
  10. ^ Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender Guide, compiled and edited by Leo Cotton (Ben Burke, Inc, 1941)
  11. ^ a b Rum Swizzle Recipe
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide
  14. ^ a b Grose, Francis. (1788) A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Printed for S. Hooper.
  15. ^ a b Morewood, Samuel. (1838) A Philosophical and Statistical History of the Inventions and Customes. Page 288 Publisher: W. Curry, jun. and company, and W. Carson.
  16. ^ a b Blowhard. (1841) Jack Tench: or, The midshipman turned idler. Page 116. Publisher: Oxford University.
  17. ^ Morphy, J. (John) (1863) Recollections of a Visit to Great Britain and Ireland in the Summer of 1862. Page 131. Publisher: W. Palmer
  18. ^ Corlett, William Thomas. (1908) The American Tropics; Notes from the Log of a Midwinter Cruise. Page 65. Published by The Burrows Brothers Co.
  19. ^ Flandrau, Charles Macomb. (1911) Prejudices. Page 92. Publisher: D. Appleton and Company.
  20. ^ Emerson, Edward Randolph. (1908) Beverages, Past and Present: An Historical Sketch of Their Production. Page 415. Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
  21. ^ Ober, Frederick Albion. (1920) A guide to the West Indies, Bermuda and Panama. Page 9. Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Company.
  22. ^ a b Taken from the Spirit of Bermuda cookbook
  23. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary entry
  24. ^ Ayto, John. (2006) Movers And Shakers: A Chronology of Words That Shaped Our Age. Page 61. Publisher: Oxford University Press ISBN 0198614527
  25. ^ a b The Legend of the Green Swizzle
  26. ^ Google Books excerpt of Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith
  27. ^ Full text of Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith
  28. ^ The Party Dress by Joseph Hergesheimer
  29. ^ Google Books reference
  30. ^ Ferrell, Sarah. (March 23, 1997) New York Times $500 Weekends; Bermuda, A First Scent Of Spring. Section: 5; Page 511.
  31. ^ The Swizzle Inn
  32. ^ [1] Dark 'n Stormy

External links

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