It’s hot, y’all, especially way down in the Florida Keys. This is a sheer fact that, in my book, calls for a cold, fruity, tropical cocktail. Enter the Rumrunner.
During a brief stay in Islamorada recently, I was told I had to have a Rumrunner, given that they were born in the laid-back island town. So I headed over to the Tiki Bar at the original Holiday Isle Beach Resort & Marina (now the Postcard Inn), where the Rumrunner came to be.
Legend has it than in the early 1970s, the manager of the Tiki Bar, “Tiki” John Ebert, discovered excessive amounts of extra 151 Rum, Blackberry Brandy and Banana Liqueur hiding in the cabinets. So, like most great things, necessity was the mother of invention. In an effort to use up some of the stockpile, Tiki came up with the ill-colored Rumrunner. He went on to add grenadine to make the drink a more appealing hue and now, this delicious tropical concoction has managed to stand the test of time.
The name “Rum Runner” itself hearkens back to old Florida days gone by. Much like bootleggers during prohibition, rum runners made their living off of thirsty, deprived souls in need of imbibing. With Florida bordering the Atlantic and the Gulf, it was a prime spot for rum running, which was different from bootlegging in the simple fact that it was the practice of smuggling over water as opposed to land.
Bill McCoy was one of Florida’s most notorious rum runners, and he made it his business to smuggle rum from the Bahamas into Southern Florida. On the occasions when the the Coast Guard was onto him, he would have smaller boats meet him about three miles offshore, based on the United States jurisdiction limit over foreign waters. This stretch offshore was soon dubbed the “Rum Line.”
These days, there’s no smuggling required, and you can toast Florida’s rum running history with your very own legal cocktail at the Tiki Bar where it all began. In Keys speak, you’ll find the Tiki Bar at Mile Marker 84 oceanside of the Overseas Highway in Islamorada. Or you can bring a taste of the Florida Keys in your own kitchen with The Original Rum Runner recipe below. Cheers!
The Original Rum Runner
- Two cups ice
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- 1 oz orange juice
- 1 oz blackberry liqueur
- 1 oz banana liqueur
- 1 oz light rum
- 1 oz dark rum or aged rum
- Splash grenadine
- Optional: one ounce of Bacardi 151 to float on top
- Orange slice (optional)
- Fill your blender with the ice
- Add all of the liquid ingredients
- Blend the contents until smooth
- Pour into a Hurricane glass and garnish with an orange slice
- Add the 151 floater
On the Rocks:
- Fill glass with ice.
- Add the liquid contents.
- Pour the 151 in the straw or on the top.