Rum and milk might not seem like an obvious pairing, particularly since dairy does not feature heavily in the Caribbean, where rum is produced in abundance. Nevertheless, the two ingredients complement each other in a handful of drinks.
The Hot Rum Cow proposes a simple way of adding another layer of velvety warmth to hot milk. Made up for the most part of milk, the toddy also incorporates dark rum, vanilla extract and sugar, with a dash of Angostura bitters, according to taste. For the finest balance, use dark aged rum rather than a young, fiery white rum.
Hot chocolate, too, benefits from a spirit-based boost. Melt a square of dark chocolate in a 1-shot serving of hot water and add an equal measure of white rum. Pour the mixture into a shot glass and top it off with steamed milk foam laced with a hint of vanilla extract.
For a less fancy version, prepare a straightforward hot chocolate drink and add a shot or two of rum. The tropical rum and chocolate notes match effortlessly, although the homely beverage feels more comforting than invigorating.
If you're offered a Milk Punch in the South, particularly around New Orleans, expect a surprisingly bracing blend of whole milk, dark rum, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Serving the cocktail over crushed ice prevents it from feeling cloyingly smooth, with a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg lending a spicy flourish. Adding an equal measure of dark liquor such as brandy or bourbon turns the punch into a Bull's Milk, usually shaken and served over crushed ice in a tall glass. To accentuate the cinnamon or caramel notes, use a spiced rum.
While rarer than coconut milk-based cocktails, rum and milk is a respected concoction in the Caribbean for its supposedly fortifying properties. Typically, these tropical versions use canned rather than fresh milk. Jamaica's Guinness Punch, for example, combines rum, condensed milk, evaporated milk and spices to make an assertively sweet cream over which the Guinness or stout is poured.
In Puerto Rico, the Coquito sits somewhere between an eggnog and the island's signature pina colada, which uses coconut milk and pineapple juice. The Coquito blends rum, coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract for a deliciously indulgent drink.