Back in the mix: New England rum

Clay Risen in NYTimes, 31 Oct. 2012

recently there has been a modest revival of rum distilleries in New England

New England once was famous for rum, more for its cheapness than for its quality (although rum from Medford had a good reputation)

in the early 19th century whiskey replaced rum as the preferred American tipple

last major New England rum distillery, Lawrence in Medford, closed in 1905

rum is distilled from sugar cane or a byproduct such as molasses

no rules about what makes an authentic rum

Thomas Tew Rum, made by Newport Distillery since 2008, was the first rum distilled there since 1842

Brazilian rum or cachaça

In the United States cachaça is sold as Brazilian rum.  In fact, cachaça and (Caribbean) rum are different alcoholic drinks.  While rum is made from molasses, cachaça is made directly from sugarcane juice. Virtuoso Life, March/April 2010, offers a brief account of cachaça.  It began as a drink for slaves, but now is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Brazil where it is the basis for caipirinha, the national cocktail. The magazine points out that cachaça is the world's third largest-selling spirit.  It also will be a surprise to most of us that number one is Korea's soju, traditionally made from rice (and now made from all sorts of things).  Not surprising is that number two is vodka, the basis for most Euro-American cocktails in our post-gin era.

Drinking Games, from Bolivia to Connecticut (article)

Michael Gladwell, "Drinking Games," New Yorker, Feb. 15, 2010.  Thank you to Kevin Grace for the tip.  The article recounts a research finding from the 1950s when Dwight Heath was a young anthropology graduate student at Yale. Both the Camba in Bolivia and Italian-Americans in New Haven, Connecticut, drank a good deal but did not display anti-social behavior.  For an abstract of the article, see here.