20080814-mount-gay-rum.jpgA few weeks ago, I pondered if this was the Summer of Rum, but ponderin' time is over. Go decorate the sugarcane tree, sing pina colada carols and hang your tiki mugs by the fireplace because National Rum Day is coming up quick.

Who designates these things? Who knows. But the authority thought this Saturday, August 16 was the right day. Not that anybody needed another excuse to mix a mojito on a mid-August weekend. Just in case you did, know that you'll be participating in a nationwide culinary tradition that dates all the way back to, well, at least last year.

I would have missed this event if not for the folks at Mount Gay Rum. They are to Rum Day what Butterball is to Thanksgiving. Produced in Barbados, Mount Gay claims to be "the original rum" with a pedigree stretching back to 1637. But Wayne Curtis points out in And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails that this is a matter of debate, noting that Barbados was probably the birthplace. True, you wouldn't want to drink any of the stuff that they were making back in Blackbeard's day, but rum producers have long since pulled their act together, and excellent aged rums, such as Mount Gay's Extra Old, are some of the best finds at the liquor store.

Alas, my family will be traveling on vacation when National Rum Day rolls around, so no heading to grandma's house to celebrate the boozy holiday. But to put you in the celebratory mood, look for a rum-fueled drink in this Friday's Cocktail Concoctions recipe column. And if you miss out, don't worry: Whiskey Sour Day is right around the corner.

About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.

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