Americans and rum have a long, sordid history. From the time the first barrels of Caribbean-made rum began rolling into the colonies in the late 1600s, we developed a fervent taste for the stuff. Rum distilleries flourished throughout the colonies and rum often served as currency — both for good and ill — before the spirit eventually lost traction to whiskey after the Revolutionary War.
Though rum would eventually return to our glasses, it was never with its former glory. Back before daiquiri or dark ’n’ stormy were even a glimmer in a bartender’s eye, our forebears were drinking an entire class of less fussy rum “cocktails” with names such as grog and flip. One of those drinks was a stone fence, a blend of rum and another quintessential Early American drink, hard cider. Stone fences were especially beloved by patriot Ethan Allen and his men, who knocked them back in a Vermont tavern the night before storming Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775.
Each time late summer rolls around, I get stone fences on the brain. They’re incredibly refreshing and dead-easy to make, and rum just suits this time of year, when the evenings are slowly growing cooler.
Fortuitously, there’s a Long Island-produced rum that fits stone fence like a glove: Sag Harbor Old Whalers Style Rum, a super-smooth rum made by East Ender Jason Laan. Laan imports Caribbean-distilled rum and ages it for a year in old Rough Rider Bourbon barrels at Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow.
Those extra components — the bourbon-stained oak, the coffee and ginger used during the aging process — conspire for an almost chocolaty rum with a vein of brightness. It can just as easily be sipped on its own as a base for an excellent dark ’n’ stormy or, in this case, stone fence.
To make one for yourself: Dribble 2 ounces of dark rum into an ice-filled Collins glass, top with sparkling hard cider — preferably one that’s a bit sweet — and squeeze over a halved lemon, dropping the wedge into the glass.
Ethan would approve.