Where has all the rum gone? You need not be stranded on a dessert island to be asking where all the rum has gone. Worry not, because there are still many Connecticut bars and restaurants carrying specialty varieties of rum that will tantalize every taste bud. For Connecticut natives or visitors, here are five spots worth a visit for your next vacation craving.
Zafra: Cuban Restaurant & Rum Bar
259 Orange St
New Haven, CT 06510
Hours: Mon to Wed – 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thurs – 11:30 a.m to 12 a.m., Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., Sat – 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sun – 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
This venue is both Connecticut’s first rum bar and the United States’ largest rum bar. With over 125 different varieties of rum, Zafra’s list contains a myriad of cocktails that cannot be found anywhere else. The drink menu reaches upwards of 25 options, including everything from the Classic Mojito to the Cuba Libre to the Hurricane. Needless to say, they will all send you spinning. Zafra even offers a cocktail that is a fitting tribute to the privateer origins of rum, The Captain Jack Sparrow. This popular drink is made with Pyrat Rum XO Reserve, pineapple juice, passion fruit juice, lime juice and blue curacao. Additionally, delicious Cuban cuisine is served both for lunch and dinner, as well as several rum-inspired dishes. Enjoy a steel drum band while you eat, or do some salsa dancing after dinner.
539 Broad St
Hartford, CT 06106
Hours: Tues to Wed – 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thurs to Fri – 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sat – 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sun – 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
This rustic Hartford restaurant and bar has become a haven for local politicians, visitors and students, many of whom have been drawn by the Farm to Table philosophy that Firebox Rest abides by. However, the food is not the only locally produced ingredient. Firebox Rest buys its rum from the Berkshire Mountain Distillers, located just over the border in Massachusetts. Purchase a Nor’Easter cocktail, made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, housemade ginger beer and fresh lime juice, and you’ll also pay tribute to the rum’s nearby origins. Firebox Rest has a wonderful atmosphere, featuring local artists’ paintings on the walls and live music for the happy hours held on Thursdays and Fridays.
116 Crown St
New Haven, CT 06510
Hours: Tues to Thurs – 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Fri to Sat – 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Sun – 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The ideal gathering spot, 116 Crown promises not only an enticing atmosphere and quality service, but an extensive rum list with several Caribbean varieties. Or, support domestic productions and try either the Rogue White or Rogue Dark Rum from Oregon. 116 Crown holds several cocktail classes taught by a specialized mixologist who details both the history and the preparation of different cocktails. With the selection, opportunity to learn and atmosphere to gather and relax, 116 Crown is certainly a gem worth visiting.
Dragonfly Restaurant & Lounge
488 Summer St
Stamford, CT 06901
Hours: Tues to Sat – 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The mixture of Gothic decor, jazz music and upscale dining is enough to draw diners into Dragonfly. However, the food and drink specialties keep patrons returning for more. The drink menu is an expansive, 16-page affair featuring several mojitos made from unique Bacardi flavors like Limon, Silver, Orange and Peach. Favorites mojitos include the Lemongrass with Bacardi Silver, Smirnoff, lemongrass, sugar, mint, limes and club soda and the Miami with Bacardi O, sugar, mint, muddled oranges and club soda. Visit during the spring or summer to enjoy your drinks on the patio with live jazz music.
Water Street Cafe
143 Water St
Stonington, CT 06378
Hours: Mon to Tues – 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wed to Thurs – 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri to Sat – 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sun – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This unique cafe is actually an oyster bar, but also serves many specialty rum cocktails. Where else can you enjoy oysters while drinking a Stonington Hurricane? That particular drink is made from Mount Gay Rum, the oldest brand of rum and endearingly dubbed “the rum that invented rum.” Try the Dark ‘n Stormy for the unique pairing of Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda Rum with ginger beer. Water Street Cafe offers a host of other rum-based cocktails in addition to a long list of wines and mouthwatering dishes.
Elizabeth Claydon is a freelance writer from Hartford. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.