Why you have to visit a rum shop in the Caribbean – according to Ainsley Harriott

12th Sep 19 | Lifestyle

Surely it’s a good enough excuse to head for a bit of winter sun?


Rum rarely gets the connoisseur treatment on European soil. Wine, craft beer, and the latest darling of the drinks world, gin, are all far more readily reached for and knocked back.

But in the Caribbean, it’s a whole other story. Ainsley Harriott made sure of it thanks to plenty of stop offs at the region’s ubiquitous rum shops, on his latest jaunt to the Americas for his new cookbook and accompanying ITV series, Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen.

“It’s like a little pub,” says Harriott of the myraid beachside and country lane shacks he encountered while visiting Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, Dominica and Trinidad and Tobago. “It’s a great way to meet the locals too; they’re normally off the beaten track.”

“A lot of people that go into these places, they’re connoisseurs,” he explains. “It’s like us going into a pub and saying, ‘I’d like a certain type of bitter or lager or cider’, and that’s what they’re like with their rum.”

The rums themselves were a “real eye opener” too. “Some of those old rums have been in the barrel for 15-20 years, that is what you drink neat – you don’t mix it with no water, no Coca-Cola, nothing, because it’s a disgrace. It’s taken that long to produce this fabulous rum and you go mix it with Coca-Cola – no! You take a cheaper one, and mix that!” he says.

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Carnival weekend = perfect time for a delicious rum punch 👍🏾😁🎉🕺🏾 ⠀⠀ This is my mum’s recipe for Rum Punch – a family favourite and I love it… turn the music up and enjoy! ⠀⠀ SERVES 14–16 ⠀⠀ 175ml boiling water 175g granulated sugar juice of 4 limes and 4 lemons 1 tsp Angostura bitters 400ml mango purée 150ml strawberry purée 300ml white rum 1 litre tropical fruit juice 1 litre lemonade plenty of ice cubes, to serve lime wedges and orange slices, to garnish freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish ⠀⠀ In a medium saucepan set over a medium heat, stir together the sugar and water until dissolved, then set aside until cold. ⠀⠀ In a large pitcher, mix the cold sugar syrup with the lime and lemon juice, Angostura bitters, mango and strawberry purées and the rum. Stir together until well mixed and chill. When ready to serve, stir in the fruit juice and lemonade. ⠀⠀ Serve over ice, garnished with lime and orange slices and a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg. ⠀⠀ #ainsleyscaribbeankitchen #cookbook #caribbeancooking #caribbeanfood #rumpunch #nottinghillcarnival #bankholidayweekend photo: Rob Partis

A post shared by Ainsley Harriott (@ainsleyfoods) on

“And when you go in, they don’t pour a measure, they give you the bottle and then you drink, and when you leave, they look and say, ‘You drink half’ [and charge you accordingly].

“It is dangerous,” he admits jokingly, “but it teaches you how to drink really. The first couple of times you might be a bit weyyyy, but after a while [you calm down].

“It reminds me of when you go away and stay in a nice hotel and you take all the shampoos, but after a while you don’t take them anymore because you realise you’ve got a carrier bag full of them under your bed.”

Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen by Ainsley Harriott, photography by Dan Jones, is published by Ebury Press, priced £20. Available now.

© Press Association 2019