ast year was kind to rum.
e second-largest spirits category grew by 2.7 percent in 2008, adding 650,000 cases to reach24.56 million nine-liter cases overall, according to
e Beverage Information Group. Premium brands are thehottest; the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. reports thatthose rums grew 8 percent last year.Some of the growth has come from spiced or
avored brandsused to spike cocktails with tropical
avors—like guava andmango—while other aged and more complex brands areentering the U.S. market from the Caribbean and Central America, expanding the range and quality of products. As rumo
erings multiply and sales rise, bar and restaurant operatorsincreasingly are making room on the back bar for more.On-premise, rum is in the sweet spot for a few reasons: thecontinuing popularity of the Mojito and its Brazilian cousin,the Caipirinha; the increasing interest in rums from aroundthe world; the resurgence of Tiki drinks—and the creativity of modern bartenders and beverage executives who are
ndinguseful the broad variety of
avors that rum o
e Mojito, though, still is a big driver of rum sales.“
e Mojito is hands-down our number one drink,” says Adam Kanter, owner of Rum Bar in Philadelphia. “We have10 di
erent kinds on our menu, and they outsell almost every other drink on our menu. Customers are de
nitely still Mojitocrazy.” He adds that Mojito Monday continues to be theirstrongest night aside from Fridays and Saturdays, with Mojitosprices between $9 and $11 and accounting for more than half of the night’s total sales, food included. While P. F. Chang’s China Bistro isn’t exactly rum-focused,according to beverage director Mary Melton, the leading drink across their 133 units is the Bacardi-based Asian Pear Mojito, $8, which accounted for $5 million in sales last year.
e second mostpopular rum drink on their menu is Chang’s Mai Tai, $7.50.
e 10 Mojito varieties at Cuba Libre in Philadelphia, AtlanticCity and Orlando are by far the most popular, according to theoperation’s marketing director, Stacy Schulist, perhaps becausethey use fresh-squeezed sugar cane and a specialty mint variety. At least one seasonal specialty, the Grilled Pineapple Mojito,has become so popular that executives have placed it on thestandard drink menu. All sell for $10 each.
POPULAR ALL AROUND
It’s not just Mojitos that are driving rum trends.
e secondmost popular drink at Rum Bar is the Caipirinha, priced from$8 to $15, where Kanter stocks ten brands of cachaça, rum’sBrazilian cousin made directly from sugarcane.
e Dark andStormy, priced at $8, is the third most popular drink.For 45-unit Hard Rock Cafe, where spirits and rum play an especially important role, the top-selling drink is theirHurricane. Mojitos returned to their menu two years ago withgreat success, says worldwide director of beverage for HardRock, Cindy Busi, although they got out in front of the trend alittle early when they introduced Mojitos earlier in the decade.“We tried seven years ago to introduce both Mojitos and rumsangrias, also on the menu now, but our customers just weren’tready for them,” she says. “I’m a huge fan of rum, but we wereahead of the trend then.”Rum is a focal point at Cheeseburger in Paradise, whichoperates 36 units through the U.S. Of the chain’s 45 signaturedrinks, 21 are made with the spirit. “Rum is obviously very big
The Tiki Bowl (top) and theHemingway Daiquiri (right) arepopular at Rhumbar in Las Vegas.