The staff at Capitol Hill rum bar, Rumba, is on a mission to show everyone rum is good with more than just Coke. Calling themselves "Seattle's first rum bar" the rum lovers at Rumba are introducing Seattleites to 250 varieties of the spirit.
"I'd like to raise the bar on people's expectations," says Rumba bar manager Connor O'Brien, in an appearance on KIRO Radio's Seattle Kitchen Show hosted by Seattle chefs Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau.
O'Brien gave the Seattle Kitchen Show staff a brief background on rum, explaining that the liquor is derived from sugar cane and its byproducts. He says over 95 percent of all the rum in the world comes from molasses, as molasses is readily available as the byproduct when you spin sugar cane into white sugar.
"You get a bunch of molasses," says O'Brien. "They used to dump it into the Caribbean in the old colonial days, until somebody let it sit around for awhile and realized that it fermented and did the trick."
Only a small portion of the market is made from fresh pressed sugar cane - varieties called rhum agricole, explains O'Brien.
"Rum is pretty much the most varied spirits category that there is, largely because there's not a lot of regulation on it [...] There are no rules."
For folks new to rum that visit Rumba, there are many flights they can serve as a sort of rum 101. But O'Brien says he also likes to find a rum catered to a customer's specific tastes.
"It's easier for me to say, 'Forget that you're in a rum bar, just give me the idea of what your taste buds like and let me guide you to the island of your dreams.'"
O'Brien encourages folks to give rum a real taste, trying it neat, with no ice and no mixers. For those not into a real straight taste, there are also plenty of rum cocktails and island drinks that still highlight this spirit as mixed by the Rumba rum experts.
Rumba at 1112 Pike St. on Capitol Hill is open for rum explorations beginning at 5 p.m. daily.