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FOOD & WINE

Dark ‘n Stormy: National drink of Bermuda

July 4, 2016
Dark "N" Stormy (PhotoCredit: Fairmont Hotels)

The national drink of Bermuda is not only delicious, it’s trademarked!

Dark "N" Stormy (PhotoCredit: Fairmont Hotels)

Dark ‘n Stormy (PhotoCredit: Fairmont Hotels)

It’s always fun to sample the national drink of any travel destination: We’ve fallen in love with pisco sours in Peru, tequila in Mexico, dawas in Kenya and rosés in Provence. We’ve also enjoyed sipping regional drinks whose names are synonymous with the wines and spirits produced there, like Cognac, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Chianti.

The legendary national drink of Bermuda

When we arrived in Bermuda, we didn’t know what to expect of the island’s cocktail culture. Then we discovered the Dark ‘n Stormy, the national drink of Bermuda, made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and ginger beer garnished with a slice or wedge of lime.

Rum-based drinks tend to be popular in the Caribbean and South America (the world’s two largest producers of rum). While Bermuda’s island culture bears some similarities, it’s too far north to be considered part of the Caribbean collection.

Contrary to what you might think, Dark ‘n Stormy has nothing to do with the hurricane season that threatens the idyllic island from June to October. Rather it refers to the 80-proof “dark” Black Seal Rum and “stormy” (frothy) ginger beer used to prepare the cocktail.

According to an article in Eater on the legendary drink:

“The name [was] inspired by an old fisherman who when confronted with the dark, swirling tempest of a cocktail remarked that it resembled a ‘cloud only a fool or a deadman would sail under.’”

The Gosling Brothers, who actually went so far as to trademark the name and ingredients for the Dark ‘n Stormy, have produced rums in Bermuda since 1806. They’ve also impressively maintained an iconic retail storefront on Front Street in Hamilton since 1824, handed down over seven generations.

Gosling Store on Front Street in Hamilton

Gosling Store on Front Street in Hamilton

When the Hamilton Princess Hotel opened its doors in 1885 (nicknamed The Pink Palace), the Gosling’s rum served there was packaged in champagne bottles salvaged from the British Naval Officer’s Mess, re-corked, and resealed with black wax—hence, called Black Seal Rum. On a play with words, the company also incorporated a black seal image in their logo.

Black seal logo (Credit: Gosling Brothers)

Black seal logo (Credit: Gosling Brothers)

The tradition of ginger beer was a gift from the British military as well. They made the brew by fermenting ginger, spice, yeast and sugar. Gosling markets its own brand of the non-alcoholic, naturally sweetened and carbonated beverage.

The signature cocktail is typically served in a highball glass over ice. Properly, it’s never served with another brand of rum or with the addition of lime juice. (It seems that there is a legal and illegal ways to prepare the trademarked drink.)

Simple Ingredients for Dark "N" Stormy

Simple Ingredients for Dark ‘n Stormy

Over the past decade, the cocktail has enjoyed a renaissance beyond the island (sometimes improperly prepared) but it was great fun to sample the national drink of Bermuda made the right way in its “terroir.”

Our virginal experience took place when the ingredients and instructions were left in our room at the Hamilton Princess in Bermuda as a turndown amenity. Too tempting to turn down!

Dark 'n Stormy: Simple but delicious

Dark ‘n Stormy: Simple but delicious

The instructions are easy enough for even a neophyte mixologist but if you are lazy or extremely thirsty after a day at the beach, you can also pop the tab on a Dark ‘n Stormy 8.4 oz. cocktail-in-a-can, containing 9% alcohol.

Dark "N" Stormy cocktail-in-a-can

Dark “N” Stormy cocktail-in-a-can


Official recipe for the Dark “N” Stormy: National Drink of Bermuda

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • 4-5 oz. Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer

Method:

  • In a glass filled with ice, add Stormy Ginger Beer and top with Black Seal Rum.
  • Garnish glass with (optional) slice or wedge of lime.

How to prepare a Dark ‘n Stormy on YouTube:


Have you tasted a “national drink” that has become a favorite of yours?

  • Reply
    alison abbott
    July 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I’ve never been to big a fan of a Dark N Stormy, but do love the visual when a bartender drops the rum in and it floats down (or is that the ginger beer?) My favorite national drink would have to be a mojito from Cuba, from a rooftop overlooking the Malecón in Havana. Yes please, take me back now.

  • Reply
    Jane canapini
    July 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I’ve never tried a Dark n Stormy, but it got me thinking what would be Canada’s signature cocktail? That would probably be a Caesar (Bloody Caesar) made with vodka and Clamato juice.

  • Reply
    Laura
    July 4, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    I’m not much of a drinker, but I would definitely enjoy trying local specialties.

  • Reply
    Lauren
    July 4, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Sounds great…very Jamaican with the Rum and the ginger beer. I like the name Dark n Stormy

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 5, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      Pretty catchy! Guess that’s why they trademarked it!:-)

  • Reply
    jenny@atasteoftravel
    July 5, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I love a good dark and stormy! I’m sure it tastes better in its homeland than the ones we mix! It’s great to learn of the history of the Goslings.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 5, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      There is something special about sipping or tasting something at the source!

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson A Taste for Travel
    July 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I loved trying a Dark ‘n Stormy or two when I was in Bermuda. Really refreshing and not too potent either!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 5, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      Doesn’t it seem just perfect for the setting?
      Best, Irene

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    July 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I love Dark & Stormy’s and I love Black Seal rum. I got introduced to both while in Newfoundland a number of years ago. Thx for this great post, Irene.

  • Reply
    Janice Chung
    July 5, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    It’s been 41 years since I was last in Bermuda and I was too young to drink alcohol but THIS is a drink I would love….especially now, in the summer heat. I stayed at the Hamilton Princess Hotel too so I certainly connected with your post. Now I’m going to be on the lookout for the 8.4 oz. cocktail-in-a-can, but I have no idea if it’s available in Canada or Ontario. We’ll find out! In the meantime….Rose wines!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 6, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      I think it’s distributed elsewhere but I’m not sure!

  • Reply
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    July 5, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    I had my first Dark ‘n Stormy in Bermuda just before a hurricane hit, so I prefer that story! And I have noticed the drink on several menus recently. And since you asked, my favorite drink is a mai tai, which I measure by those I’ve had in Hawaii. So far the only one I’ve had on the mainland which was up to snuff is the one at Trader Vik’s in Oakland, California.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 6, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Hope you got out before the Hurricane!

    • Reply
      Laura
      July 6, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      Bobb Chin’s in Chicago has a legenday mai tai that is served in a souvenir cup.

  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    July 6, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    I don’t drink, but I really enjoyed learning about this cocktail and its history!!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Interesting how so many cocktails have stories behind them1

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    July 8, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    I had no idea that the Dark N Stormy had such a storied past. I’m a huge fan of ginger beer so I’ll have to try one and see. I really enjoyed the Rum Punch in Nevis but you have to be careful because they sure can pack a powerful punch!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      I think you’ll like it if you are a fan of ginger beer!

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