Have a Dark ’n Stormy Night

Kick back and celebrate International Dark ’n Stormy Day with the refreshing cocktail that has roots in the Caribbean
Dark ‘n Stormy Rum Cocktail

Brent Hofacker/Adobe

It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a taste of the Caribbean on a hot night—preferably not a dark and stormy one, but with a Dark ’n Stormy cocktail. And in the realm of the made-up special days, June 9 is International Dark ’n Stormy Day, so it seems the perfect time to take a closer look at this drink and then mix one up tonight or this weekend in honor of the occasion.

Ginger beer, dark rum, and a squeeze of lime make up this easy cocktail that has origins in Bermuda and was reportedly created in an accidental collaborative effort by a family of Bermudian rum makers and some seasick sailors, according to the National Today site, which features these “holidays.”

First, we must go back to the rum-producing family at the core of this creation. In 1806, James Gosling, who was the eldest son of wine and spirit merchant William Gosling, set sail from England for America with 10,000 pounds of merchandise. But, after 91 days at sea, his charter ran out, so he and his crew altered course for the nearest port, which was St. George’s, Bermuda. Then in 1824, Ambrose Gosling arrived in Bermuda and he and his brother James set up shop on King’s Parade Street there. Over the years, the Gosling family worked on blending techniques and ultimately created their unique black rum, originally referred to as “Old Rum” until World War I. In the early 1900s, they bottled their spirit in repurposed Champagne bottles and sealed them with black wax, and the rum was referred to as “Black Seal,” a name which has lived on.

In the 1920s, members of the British Navy who were stationed in Bermuda brewed ginger beer as a remedy for seasickness. Some sailors began adding a splash of it to Goslings’ rum and unknowingly created what would become this popular cocktail. According to legend, the cocktail got its name when an old fisherman claimed the drink had the “color of a cloud only a fool or dead man would sail under.”

Then in 1980, the Gosling family even trademarked the cocktail to ensure that a cocktail can only be advertised as an authentic Dark ’n Stormy if it contains the key ingredient of Goslings Black Seal Rum. In 2012, the brand released a ready-to-drink Dark ’n Stormy in a can.

Landlubbers can easily whip up this cocktail that “appears like a storm cloud in a glass and evokes the mystique of Bermuda” and relax on the deck or patio. Real sailors will tell you to lose the lime, according to Goslings, but the makers appreciate the extra zest—not to mention, it can help prevent scurvy.

Dark ’n Stormy

Makes 1

1: Fill a glass with ice.
2: Add 6 ounces Goslings Ginger Beer
3. Float 2 ounces Goslings Black Seal Rum on top.
4. Garnish with lime.
5. Stir up a storm!

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.