Bermuda Rum Swizzle


The Rum Swizzle is oftentimes called Bermuda’s national drink.  This recipe is a good example of what is commonly served in Bermuda, and has a touch of elegance thanks to the addition of Nutmeg and bitters, two things not commonly included.  The recipe given here is from Jason Schiffer of 320 Main

If you look online and find a recipe for the drink served in Bermuda, quite often people say just to shake the damn drink.  A swizzle is a swizzle because of the technique of swizzling!  Moving crushed ice around to create an extremely cold cocktail in the glass, that is the aim of the action of swizzling. The only recipe that I found which actually calls for said appropriate action is that of the Pegu Blog: their version of the drink is a great example of the traditional recipe (with swizzling action of course), however, I’ve grown fond of the rather complicated version listed here.

The origin of the swizzle is interesting: according to Trader Vic, we see the swizzle originating in the West Indies, where the act of swizzling is a common one used to mixing all types of drinks thanks in part to the fact that the “swizzle stick” is a native to that region.  But in reality, the swizzle as an alcoholic beverage has a longstanding history, one which is based upon rum, spruce beer, sugar and water (Grose).  The use of citrus juice or other tropical juices makes this move very far away from the first swizzle, since the use of the juices makes this reminiscent of a punch.  Despite that, the act and the technique help bring this tall drink back in alignment with the name.

Flavor-wise, the drink is rich molasses notes, with the tartness of the pineapple and lemon, with lovely fruit notes thanks to the inclusion of the orange and grenadine.  There is a slight note of teriyaki sauce, thanks to the pineapple and molasses notes, but that is mostly on the finish, and shouldn’t bother most people (I was surprised:  I never picked up on this, and was pointed out this flavor by John Colthorp).  The molasses flavor is enriched thanks to homemade falernum and the use of turbinado syrup; plus, the spice notes come through and help give the cocktail a really nice mid palate, that helps pull out the funky flavors of the Goslings.  This cocktail would be hard to make as well as it is without using Goslings since the characteristic flavor feels so right with Goslings, a flavor few other rums can emulate.

As for garnish, a cherry and citrus is a must.  While normally orange peel will be used, I prefer the drink using grapefruit zest, since the tart tang and natural sweetness of the grapefruit offsets the entire aroma of the molasses oriented goslings, and blends the smell of the acidic pineapple with the other flavors.  Furthermore, the addition of the nutmeg gives the drink a call back to the past, to the days when Slings had nutmeg on top.  Nutmeg and grapefruit actually contrast nicely against each other, so it helps bring out a bit more depth to the drink than a simple orange zest, at least in my opinion.

Bermuda Rum Swizzle:

2 ounces Gosling’s dark rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce pineapple juice, unsweetened
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/4 ounce grenadine
1/4 ounce falernum
1/4 ounce demerara syrup
2 dashes Angustora bitters

Combine the ingredients quickly over crushed ice in a glass.  Swizzle until the glass is chilled.  Top with more crushed ice.  Garnish with a cherry, grapefruit peel, and shaved nutmeg.


Grose, Francis. 1788.  A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.  Printed for S. Hooper. (accessed August 31, 2010).

Hess, Robert.  “Bermuda Rum Swizzle.” (accessed October 15, 2010).