Winter is here, and that means it is time for rum anyway you like it to warm us up. Few know that rum is the first spirit to be made and imbibed for sheer pleasure.
Originating in Barbados in 1650, the liquor used to be a legitimate currency to pay sailors, and was adopted by the colonial owners of sugarcane plantations. Pirates often attacked ships carrying barrels of rum because of their worth.
In the 1800’s, rum was even used as a shampoo and to this day beauty bloggers swear by it as a conditioner to make hair thicker. But most people would rather mix rum in their cocktails, and it is also healthier than other spirits since it contains no fat, cholesterol or sodium.
In Nepal, rum was popularised first by returning Gurkha soldiers.They preferred hot rum punch when fighting in the trenches in winter, and Khukri rum became the perfect drink for cold winters in the mountains of Nepal.
Rum is also strongly associated with music, right from Bacardi’s overlying theme of freedom depicted through dancing and music, to the fact that Rum and Coca-Cola composed by Lionel Belasco in 1945.
In Nepal, Nepal Distilleries which makes Khukri has also been holding trendy concert tours to celebrate the country’s ethnic diversity which is reflected in its music, including folk rock, classical, pop, and Nep-hop.
Khukri rum’s iconic Coronation edition comes in a dagger-shaped bottle and is a popular gift item, and has won international awards in rum tasting.
The month-long nationwide Khukri Music Tour in 2018-19 was held all over the country, including Illam, Birtamod, Itahari and 22 other cities of Nepal. The artists included Indira Joshi, Sugam Pokharel, Shiva Pariyar, Sandhya Joshi and comedian Sandeep Chettri. Khukri Music Nights have also been held in various restaurants.
During the pandemic, the ‘Khukri Music Nation’ virtual contest was held in December 2020. The contest was judged by Bipul Chhetri, Sambriddhi Rai and Sabin Rai with the Top 16 awards.
“Khukri Rum takes pride in Nepali Music and talents,” says event manager Shrida Shah. “We hope to give a platform for emerging Nepali artists to exhibit their talents.”
Rum has often been associated with defiance and rebellion. It was the most smuggled liquor during the American prohibition. Mixing it with Coke became Cuba Libre. In Brazil, Cachaça is distilled from fermented sugarcane juice, whereas elsewhere it is made from molasses.
Mutineers in Australia seized control of the government in 1808 when the governor attempted to regulate the use of rum in what was known as the Rum Rebellion. Whereas in North America, George Washington had a barrel of Barbados Rum at his 1789 inauguration. The British Royal Navy continued to serve a daily rum ration or tot to sailors until 1970.
Rum is at the origin story of modern mixology, dating back to the rum punches and grogs concocted by British colonials. Punch in fact comes from the Sanskrit word paanch, meaning five and so named because of the 5 ingredients that made the rum last longer: liquor, sugar, spice, water and bitters. The original Himalayan rum, Khukri, perfectly combined these ingredients.
Famous people who were famous for their predilection to rum were Ernest Hemingway (known for his mojito and daiquiri), John F Kennedy was another daiquiri man and American actor Will Smith, famous for his Oscars slap last year, goes for Piña Colada.
Nepal is a pioneer in dark rum with Himalayan herbs, pure spring water and abundant sugarcane in the Tarai. Khukri is a heritage rum that has all the characteristics of a contemporary rum, and is a perfect accompaniment to chhoila or sekuwa.