Let the California Rum Festival Correct Your Misimpressions

This weekend at SOMArts, excellent tiki cocktails are in and adolescent spiced-rum-induced hangovers are out.

If you’re anything like me, thoughts of rum take you back to those high school nights, swigging Captain Morgan’s out of the bottle and suffering the effects the next day. It took years for me to get past my ill-fated rum introduction, which once sent me beelining for the nearest bathroom after a night of overconsumption. Flash-forward a decade, and I’ve become better educated on the wonderful world of rum.

Rum’s origins date back to early fermented drinks based on sugarcane juice found in China and India. The first creation of rum as we know it, distilled from sugarcane byproducts, was found in the Caribbean during the 17th century. It worked its way from Barbados to the American colonies, where huge numbers of African slaves had been shipped to the Caribbean islands to work on sugar plantations. The history of rum is a long and sordid one — one that deserves a good long look.

Fermented and distilled from molasses, rum gets a bad rap for its sugary genesis. I’m not the only one who blames their adolescent hangovers on the brown liquor, but there are so many sophisticated kinds of rum that aren’t of those spiced varieties. Rum is seeing a resurgence in tiki bars and craft cocktail bars alike, so it’s time we allow ourselves to experience the true subtleties of this sugarcane-based spirit sans bias.

That’s why the Third Annual California Rum Fest should be on your radar. Taking place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8-9 at SOMArts Cultural Center, this two-day rum-a-thon features over 40 premium rum brand expressions from around the world, educational industry sessions, consumer tastings, and a Rum Bazaar, which includes tropical rum cocktails created by some of San Francisco’s best bartenders, arts and crafts by local vendors, and live music. Hear from industry guest speakers like Richard Seale, a fourth-generation master distiller at Foursquare Distillery, Robert Serrallés, V.P. of business development and commercial director of Don Q, and Bryan Davis, owner of Lost Spirits.

Day One grantd you face-to-face access to brand representatives, tastings, seminars, and educational breakout sessions followed by a four-hour grand tasting. Day two features the celebratory Rum Bazaar, a five-hour event complete with tiki cocktails, music, and arts.

California Rum Festival, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 8-9, at SOMArts, 934 Brannan St. $10-$130; californiarumfestival.com

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