How to make the best Dark ‘n Stormy (it’s all about the ginger beer)

As we move closer to monsoon season in the Valley of the Sun, I’m starting to think about mixing up my favorite mid-summer cocktail: the Dark ‘n Stormy.

As legend has it, Royal Naval Officers stationed in Bermuda around the time of World War I would add dark rum to ginger beer in order to help them combat seasickness. The Dark ‘n Stormy was named after a sailor famously remarked that the drink resembled the “color of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under.”

My first experience with the drink was at The Breadfruit & Rum Bar in downtown Phoenix several years ago and I immediately fell in love with it. It was a hot summer evening and the drink paired perfectly with a cigar enjoyed on the secluded back patio.

On the surface, it seems pretty easy to make: a shot of Gosling’s Black Seal rum over ice topped off with ginger beer (add a splash of lime juice or acid phosphate if you want to get fancy). It literally has to be Gosling’s for it to be a true Dark ‘n Stormy as they have trademarked the name.

Since there isn’t much room to debate which rum to use, the crucial ingredient becomes the ginger beer.

Three summers ago, Amy and I went on a quest to find the best mixer for a Dark ‘n Stormy and I’m going to save you the hassle (and sugar crash) and share my results. First off, it’s got to be ginger beer. Ginger ale is way too sweet and mild for this drink. Second, I want to see ginger sediment in the bottle! A variety with high ginger content gives you a nice burn that cuts the sweetness of the rum. Finally, it has to be made of high quality, simple ingredients. Rather than make some long, drawn-out list of the “top whatever” ginger beers, I’m going to cut to the chase and share my top pick up front:

Fever-Tree – 10/10

This stuff was created solely for mixing, which makes it a great companion to the dark, sweet rum. Made from a blend of ginger from Nigeria, Cochin and the Ivory Coast, Fever-Tree is the perfect way to enjoy a Dark ‘n Stormy. It’s a high quality mixer that is sweetened with natural sugars instead of the nasty stuff found in cheaper varieties (see below). It isn’t cloyingly sweet and the proof is in the sediment that gathers in the bottom (be sure to tip the bottle upside down before pouring). It has just the right burn and will make the perfect Dark ‘n Stormy every single time.

Others worth trying

If you are unable to find Fever-Tree or want to try another variety, these are a few that will do in a pinch:

Maine Root Ginger Brew – 9/10

This is another spicy option that might be a little easier to find. Some people might find it undrinkable on it’s own, which usually chalks up to a solid mixer. You’d be hard pressed to find a ginger beer with a shorter list of ingredients (organic cane juice, ginger juice and lemon zest), which makes this a great option for those who like to keep things simple.

Cock ‘n Bull – 8/10

This goes great in a Moscow Mule (the vodka version of a Dark ‘n Stormy), which isn’t too surprising as the company invented the drink back in 1946. It also goes great with the rum version. While a little sweeter than the previous two, it still has a good ginger kick.

Gosling’s – 7.5/10

After years of an unofficial partnership with Barritt’s, the rum maker decided it was time to expand profits and make their own mixer, Gosling’s Stormy Ginger Beer. It’s not horrible, but my main complaint is the beverage is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Furthermore, it’s missing my beloved ginger burn.

The rest of them…

There were others that we tried for good measure, but in all honestly they kind of got lost in the fray. Several that come to mind are Fentimans, Bundaberg, Saranac, and Ginger People. They were middle-of-the-road offerings that weren’t horrible, but were not as good as the aforementioned. There were two that really disappointed us:

Barritt’s – 5/10

Purists will probably destroy me for this one, seeing a lot of enthusiasts hail this the original ginger beer for a Dark ‘n Stormy. Like Gosling’s, this is produced in Bermuda which is why it’s considered the standard for many. I just find it way too sweet and not spicy enough. I don’t get the kick of ginger some people claim this gives. If you like it, that’s awesome, it just vastly underperforms in my opinion.

Reed’s – 4/10

This belongs at the bottom of the list. It doesn’t belong near a cocktail glass, in my opinion. It is sickly sweet and misses the boat completely when it comes to the spicy flavor needed to make a quality cocktail. Skip it.

So that’s it for my comprehensive list of Dark ‘n Stormy ginger beer pairings. I’m going to head to the store and buy the only rum you can use without breaking the law.

Note: I have not received any products or compensation, although if Fever-Tree wants to send me a case of their Ginger Beer for “further research”, I would happily oblige.

How we can stop worrying about the future

“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.” – Montaigne

Have you ever felt like you were in one of those cartoons where the rain cloud follows you around wherever you go? I often find myself sweating the small stuff and focusing on my problems. Worrying about my future, regretting the past and ultimately getting caught up in the inevitable daily stresses. So how do you slay the giant of worry on a daily basis?

One of my favorite resources for battling stress (outside of time spent in God’s word or prayer) is a book by Dale Carnegie aptly titled How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I highly recommend that you do. The first chapter encourages readers to grasp the concept of living in a day-tight compartment. So what does that even mean?

Live in a Day-tight Compartment

The idea comes from a commencement speech Sir William Osler gave to Yale students in 1913. The compartments Osler was referring to were water-tight ones on a giant ocean liner he rode across the Atlantic. The Captain of the ship could press a button, machines would kick into motion and one part of the boat could be completely sealed off from another. No water could enter the compartment that had been shut off. He encouraged students to “shut off” the past and the future and instead focus on the present. Focus on the time between right now and when your head hits the pillow tonight.

Osler continued by encouraging students to begin the day with the Lord’s Prayer and focused on the part where we ask God to “give us this day our daily bread.” Carnegie emphasizes that in this prayer we ask for today’s bread. We don’t complain about yesterday’s stale loaf or worry about the supply in the future.

OK, So How do I Apply This to My Day?

Living in a day-tight compartment is easier said than done. After all we have bills to pay, obligations on the calendar and countless unexpected problems that life throws at us. We get laid off. We get sick. We struggle in our relationships. While we are guaranteed to have troubles tomorrow (and beyond), Jesus instructs us not to worry about them in Matthew 6:34. So what do we do about the troubles that plague us today? 1 Peter 5:7 has that answer: Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you (NLT).

We are never instructed to not plan for or be cognizant about tomorrow. Instead, we are to not be anxious about it. Worrying about losing a job, getting sick or not being able to pay a bill is extremely counterproductive but thoughtful planning and prayer is proactive. My former pastor encouraged our congregation to avoid focusing on our problems, but instead focus on His promises.

From Now Until You Fall Asleep

Seal off the failures of yesterday. Block out the worries of tomorrow. Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom said that “worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Living in a day-tight compartment and casting all of your anxieties on God will give you the strength to be content in today. As Carnegie explains, we need to be content in the only time we can actually live: from right now until we fall asleep.

Here I go…

I figure since blogging is officially dead, I might as well start a blog.

Over the years I have toyed with the idea of blogging on a regular basis, even managing to publish a post or two a few years back. I’ve never stuck with it on a regular basis because I’ve never thought too long and hard about why I want to blog. Furthermore, how would I add value to my my readers? Would I even have any readers?

The latter question remains to be answered, and I’m not all that sure it really matters. I’ve come up with a purpose for this blog. It’s actually based on my life purpose statement that I updated today:

to honor God and live a meaningful life.

My goal for the rest of this year is to use that purpose statement as a filter for every decision I make. I’m hoping to become a less self-centered individual who is committed to loving God and loving people.

This blog will serve as a tool for me to share my thoughts and feelings about faith and family life.

It will consist of some journaling, free association rambling and maybe a rant or two here and there for good measure. If it doesn’t add value to your life, simply close the browser window and do something more productive. You won’t hurt my feelings.