Food & Drink

Rum is finally joining the craft cocktail boom

With rum from Belmont and local peaches, you can shake up a Port Charlotte.
With rum from Belmont and local peaches, you can shake up a Port Charlotte. Kevin Gavagan

Of all the raw ingredients that can be distilled into alcohol, from corn to artichokes, the most seductive for me will always be sugar – or, more specifically, molasses.

Whether it be the drink of pirates or the fuel that held our revolution together at Bunker Hill, few distillates have a history that’s as rich and colorful as rum. Now much more tame than the rum of yore, more suited to sitting by the pool than buccaneering on the high seas, rum is finally having its moment within the wider distilling and cocktail boom.

Doing their part locally are Robbie and Caroline Delaney at Muddy River Distillery in Belmont. I recently visited and took their relatively short yet informative distillery tour. The enthusiasm with which they talk about their products is amazing. Even though Robbie Delaney was nursing a cold when I went, he still went all out. I have been on many distillery tours and there were still new things I learned at Muddy River.

Their current lineup includes Silver Carolina Rum, one-year-aged Queen Charlotte’s Reserve Rum and now Coconut Carolina Rum.

Summer is an awesome time for rum. This recipe takes full advantage of all the other great things about summer: fresh peaches, grilling and crushed-ice drinks.

Kevin and Heather Gavagan are Charlotte cocktail nerds who host public and private cocktail events. Follow them on Twitter (@hauntbarCLT) or email

Want to go?

Muddy River Distillery, 1500 River Drive, Belmont.

Tours: Hours vary, so book in advance at Must be 21 or older to enter.

Port Charlotte

1/4 to 1/3 cup of grilled peach slices

2 to 3 fresh basil leaves

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1 1/2 ounces Silver Carolina Rum

Crushed ice (see note)

Toss the peaches, basil and sugar in a cocktail shaker and muddle with medium pressure. Add the lime juice and rum. Top with enough crushed ice to get close to filling your serving cup (I like to use a double old-fashioned glass or a tiki mug.)

Shake and don’t be shy about it. Pour into glass and top with more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a basil leaf, a lime wedge and a peach slice. A cocktail parasol is optional but fun if you have them.

Note: If you are only making a couple of drinks, use your ice maker or blender to crush some ice, or smash some ice cubes in a bag. If you are having a party, go to Herrin Bros. Ice, 315 E. 36th St., for snow ice, a finely crushed ice, for $6 for a 40-pound bag. (Call ahead to make sure they have it, 704-332-2193.)

Yield: 1 serving.