Once, while driving along Boston Harbor, I saw an oil tanker named Nor’easter. I thought that was odd, kind of like naming your horse Broken Leg. So it was with some trepidation that I approached the subject of the Dark ’n’ Stormy. It is, after all, hurricane season. No wait, Hurricane is a whole other drink.

The venerable concoction is popular on the Island, in part because sailing is a big deal here, and most anywhere more than one sailor gathers, rum is probably going to show up.

For a drink that has earned a near mythological status, it’s pretty simple to make. Pour a shot of dark rum into a tall glass full of ice, fill the glass up with ginger beer, and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Ginger beer used to be actual beer, but it isn’t anymore, mostly. Somewhere along the line things went horribly wrong and somebody skipped the whole fermentation process, made
a carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger, and appropriated the name ginger beer. Beer buyers beware.

Steve Myrick

Dark ’n’ Stormy purists insist the main ingredient can be no other than Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. The legend, according to the Bermuda Goslings, is that James Gosling, the oldest son of wines and spirits merchant William Gosling, set out for America with a cargo of merchandise. Becalmed for more than ninety days, his charter was cancelled and Gosling was dropped off at the nearest port in Bermuda, where he later set up shop. Oh, what might have been.

In, ahem, researching facts for this column, I discovered a strange phenomenon. For many bartenders, a Dark ’n’ Stormy is their favorite drink. These are people who could choose any drink they want, and they choose this. Something to think about.

I ran across a variation of the drink that looks promising, a twist that gives it a southern New England flair. It involves infusing cranberries. Take a few raw, unprocessed cranberries and pierce each one with the tip of a knife. Be careful. This is an exercise best done before imbibing. Put the cranberries into a sealed container with dark rum and refrigerate for at least twenty-four hours, or as long as a week. If you can predict one week in advance when you will want a Dark ’n’ Stormy, you are my hero.

Make the Dark ’n’ Stormy with the cranberry-infused rum and garnish with a couple of the cranberries, which, with any luck, will float on top of the drink.

I don’t know if the Pilgrims brought rum over on the Mayflower, but I like to think so. At any rate, there was definitely rum flowing to New England by the time various newcomers figured out the water was warmer and the living less Puritanical south of Cape Cod, and put down roots on the Vineyard. It only makes sense they probably made a Dark ’n’ Stormy or two and added cranberries for local flavor.

So the next time you order a Dark ’n’ Stormy here on Martha’s Vineyard, give yourself a little credit. You are not just thirsty for a sweet, potent cocktail. You are carrying on a great tradition.

But check the hurricane forecast first.