Several years ago, Debbie Doherty and Barbara Snider and their husbands traveled to the Canary Islands, autonomous colonies of Spain off the coast of west Africa. There, they fell in love with both the islands and their signature drink: Rum.
Rum is most often associated with the Caribbean, but sugarcane, from which the liquor is made, originated in New Guinea before spreading to Asia, Africa, Europe and finally, the Americas via some plants that Columbus brought over from the Canary Islands. So while rum evokes images of tiki drinks with bright umbrellas sipped on the shores of a Caribbean island, the Canary Islands have a much longer history with the drink.
The rum that Doherty and Snider tasted there was different than what they were used to drinking, and when they returned to the United States, they found themselves missing the spicy and sweet Canary Islands rum.
"We bought a few bottles online, and it was a fortune," Doherty says. "So we thought why not get a contract here? As if it were that easy..."
It took nearly three years to get the products--four different varieties of rum--imported, permitted and on local shelves, but now you can buy Guajiro rum made by Destilerías San Bartolomé de Tejina thanks to DoSn International, Doherty and Snider's company. DoSn is local and provides wholesale rum to various area restaurants and Spec's.
Doherty explains that Barbara is about to retire, and next year both of their husbands will retire. The year after that, Doherty herself is planning on living a life of leisure, aside, of course, from running the new import business. DoSn is both a way to supplement her income and a source of entertainment.
"We've been having a ball really," Doherty says. "We've been over there to the Canary Islands three times, and we're planning on going back really soon."
We got a hold of a bottle of Guajiro (pronounced "waa-hero") honey rum and, along with a mixologist buddy, crafted a few summery cocktails to whisk you away to the Canary Islands, too.
Rum Collins 2 oz. Guajiro Honey Rum 1 oz. fresh lemon juice club soda
Mix rum and lemon juice in a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Stir until chilled. Top with club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge.
Spanish Punch 1.5 oz. Guajiro Honey Rum .5 oz. Punch alla Fiamma (mandarin liqueur) .5 oz. fresh lemon juice 2 large sprigs of rosemary
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and rosemary has infused the liquid. Strain into a coupe and garnish with lemon and rosemary.
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Guajiro Old Fashioned 1.5 oz. Guajiro Honey Rum .5 oz. rye whiskey 2 dashes Angostura bitters 2 dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients in a lowball glass and add a large ice cube. Stir until chilled and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Canary Islands Tiki 1.5 oz. Guajiro Honey Rum .5 oz. Campari 2 oz. pineapple juice .5 oz. fresh lime juice
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain over crushed ice and garnish with a slice of grilled lime (or slice of fresh lime if you don't want to fire up the grill just for a garnish).