Dark ‘n’ Stormy Leaves US Shaken & Stirred

November 10, 2010

Bermuda’s unofficial national drink, Dark ‘n’ Stormy, is quenching an increasing number of thirsts in the US where the highball is earning a growing cult reputation as a cosmopolitan but exotic cocktail.

“Chicago Tribune’s” food writer Lauren Viera recommended the drink to Windy City residents in her blog this week, saying it was the perfect antidote to the dark and stormy weather they will experience this winter.

“It’s one of the best examples of a true cocktail, e.g., one built on three ingredients (rum as the base, ginger beer as the modifier, lime as the flavouring agent), which makes it a deliciously easy drink to fix at home — preferably with a thunderstorm brewing out the window,” she said.

In 2009 Bermuda’s Gosling Brothers Ltd. took the highly unusual move of copyrighting both the name and recipe for the Dark ‘n’ Stormy in the US. Unless its specifically made with two ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal rum, no highball can legally be marketed in America as a Dark ‘n’ Stormy. This legal branding earned the Bermuda company a bonanza of publicity in the American media — and has helped the Dark ‘n’ Stormy make considerable inroads in the US market since.

In fact, Gosling’s Black Seal rum, first blended in 1860 but not marketed under that name until after World War One, is now Bermuda’s largest export and the Dark ‘n’ Stormy has started to appear on the cocktail menus of restaurants and bars throughout the US.

“We defend that trademark vigorously, which is a very time-consuming and expensive thing,” E. Malcolm Gosling Jr., whose family has owned Gosling’s since it was founded in 1806, told “The New York Times” after the US Patent Office granted the Dark ‘n’ Stormy trademarks. “That’s a valuable asset that we need to protect.”

The newspaper went on to report: “Speaking more broadly, about competing rum companies piggybacking on the Dark ‘n’ Stormy revival, Mr. Gosling said, ‘They’re really just trying to cheat and to capitalise on our investment’. Yet this is something more than corporate gamesmanship. Gosling’s Black Seal — as dark as motor oil and with a distinctively charred flavor — tastes like no other rum, in the way that Campari tastes like no other digestif.”

Mr. Gosling, who manages the development and export of Gosling’s products, has appeared in a series of light-hearted on-line videos promoting the Dark ‘n’ Stormy to the American market.

This summer “Times” food critic Toby Cecchinni took a tongue-in-cheek stand against Goslings legal claim to be able to dictate the ingredients of a Dark ‘n’ Stormy in the US.

“The drink has its roots in Bermuda, and emigrated up the Atlantic seaboard with the sailing set,” said. “Goslings has a rather sniffy and debatable lock on the recipe, having in fact trademarked its version, even going to the point of threatening with the specter of litigation anyone who might suggest concocting one with another rum. I like Goslings just fine. It’s delicious rum (the little-heralded 151 proof is my preference), and being the dark rum from Bermuda, it is unquestionably synonymous with the Dark ‘n’ Stormy. But I have to say, at the risk of sounding libellous, that any number of dark rums are interchangeably lovely in this drink, including Coruba, Zaya, Cruzan’s Blackstrap and, my favorite, the Lemon Hart 151 from Guyana.”

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Comments (13)

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  1. user says:

    I’m glad everyone is catching on! Was only a matter of time.

  2. Call as it is says:

    The Americans won’t be able to handle this!!!

  3. Todd says:

    I have seen these in menus all over Halifax and Toronto, and the Rum is everywhere.

  4. Jays says:

    It’s always fun to find it on a menu abroad, but they rarely make it with the right type of gingerbeer (in England, at least) and it ruined the fun. Goslings should insist their gingerbeer be sold along with the rum :)

    • Logic76 says:

      Barrett’s is the only Ginger Beer I’ll drink! Forget the Goslings imitation.

  5. Concerned says:

    Bermuda should have had this drink on the market decades ago!!! Soooo freakin slow to do stuff!! That should have been our national drink!! I see dark n stormy’s on the menu all the time. I live in ATL and saw Barrits Ginger Beer in a liquor store and I had to tell the store owner to put it near the rum and tell people how to make it!! Bermuda can be the perfect destination for a great vacation but the wrong people are running it!!

  6. terry says:

    Kind of funny how things play out here in the US. Years ago you could buy Barritts Ginger Beer here in Virginia and the cans of Dark and Stormy and the Black Rum. Now all you can buy is the Rum from ABC’s ( Alchahol Beverage Control stores).

    When the USNAS closed in 1994 most of the liquor (BION) came too Oceana Naval Air Station where the personnel transfered too or either Norfolk Naval Station, where the tradition continued and it became quite popular with southern Virginians.

    Mr.Barritt and Mr. Gosling must have had a family fued because the drink is popular but the mixes are hard to find.

    Oh well…politics as usual amongst the rich and famous.

    Hell…you could even buy the tins of D&S’s ……I know one place that sells em and they call it Dark and Bayjan……………..

  7. rummy says:

    I have found Goslings Black Rum in small liquor shops in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Now I find it packaged with the Ginger Beer (which is not made in Bermuda and tastes different but in the same can) and the liquor stores say it sells kinda slow but it does sell and people ask for it when they don’t see it (probably Bermudians). But it always gets a thumbs up. Be nice if I could see it on the top shelf at my local watering hole.

  8. Lily says:

    Fuzzy Duck (a cooler)has a drink called Fuzzy Duck Dark n’ stormy.. it doesnt take anything like the original recipe. Taste like a cola infact. I found it in Halifax.

  9. Pat says:

    I am happy to say that I found Goslings Black Seal Rum in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas.

  10. hurricane says:

    I am glad to say that the ‘dark and stormy’ was recommended to me in other countries as a must have drink. At first i thought it was imitation, but they used goslings black rum and our ginger beer. i had it first in Revolution bar in London (next to Lloyds of London) then was offered it in San Francisco. In London, credit was given to Bermuda. In San Fran, they had the correct ingredients, but didn’t know the drink was from Bermuda. Glad that i was able to enjoy a taste of Bermuda in my travels. And even prouder that Bermuda is making a mark in exportation.

  11. Stormy & Dark says:

    It’s lemon -not lime! Let get it right

  12. Stormy & Dark says:

    Let get it right – it’s LEMON – not lime!