The History of Rum in the Caribbean

Although the history of rum is more than 4 centuries old, while jazz only appeared at the beginning of the XX° century, the two are intimately linked to the slave trade between the XVII° and XIX° century in the United States.

Rum is related to the first globalization thanks to the marketing of sugar from sugar cane

Rum and jazz have now become inseparable.

The mythical drink as much as jazz has a story that tells of the pains and sufferings of the uprooted African people; from their native continent to be sold as slaves in the plantations of the Caribbean and more generally of America.

In Cuba in 1493, where Christopher Columbus places the first European colony across the Atlantic for the cultivation of sugar, the farmers understand that by distilling the waste from the production of sugar, they obtain a spirit whose first name was ‘Kill Devil'. This is how the settlers in the Caribbean islands were the first to produce rum.

Rum was born, without yet being named. This drink was at very cheap at the time, its production used waste from the manufacture of sugar. The less well-off settlers were its first consumers, and also the first to produce it, because quickly the production of rum, more and more coveted, was combined with sugar production and a large and specific labor force. its production had become necessary. To speed up production, farmers and politicians decided to bring en masse slaves from Africa to develop sugar cane cultivation. sugar and rum making.

It’s only in the 17th century, in 1642 at Barbados that this alcohol was named Rum.

This could perhaps explain this, for centuries and until now. recently rum has always been associate to this Afro-American culture and the dark years of the black condition. White consumers and certainly politicians have long been shunned; rum, certainly long for racial reasons and economic strategy, in favor of whiskey (and bourbon) which became the popular drink of Americans, until today.

However, rum has not said its last word and today ranks 2nd in the world of the most appreciated and most consumed spirits. And the past becomes History, societies move forward and prejudices break down, thus the last decade has not denied this worldwide craze for this mythical drink to drink. more than one title and nothing tells us that rum won’t take pole position by then. a few years.

The History of Jazz

Jazz comes from three musical currents: blues, negro spiritual and ragtime. It developed in the early 1900s and became a source of inspiration for many musicians of the time. Jazz has also been influenced by gospel and several other musical genres which had won in popularity among African-American communities before the 20th century. The history of rum and jazz therefore remains closely linked and traces the epic of the arrival of black slaves in America.

Jazz is definitely the fruit of the culture of the black American people and music from Europe imported by French, Spanish, German and Irish settlers.

The history of rum quickly became associated with that of jazz, and so it’s from New York to from New Orleans to Chicago jazz clubs have never dissociated; the rum of the music they offered. One could say that jazz has played; a key role in the distribution of rums around the world, and vice versa, rum has been the bearer of the jazzy atmospheres of the time at the time. nowadays.

How did rum and jazz come together?

Jazz is a musical genre that was born of the interaction between African musical rhythms and the European musical influence of the early 20th century. At that time, New Orleans was one of the main centers of trade, commerce and music in the United States. The city was home to many people of African descent and a large community. Caribbean, with which the local Creoles shared their musical traditions. À at the same time, rum became a popular drink and a trademark for sailors who frequented ports.

The connection between the two emerged when traveling New Orleans musicians, such as Buddy Bolden, began to play in the bars and shacks of the Caribbean. These musicians bought and consumed large quantities of rum, which they even poured into their saxophones to clean them. These saxophones acquire new tones that will give birth to the expression of “the sound of jazz”.

Why is rum so important for sailors?

The first batch of rums was produced in the Caribbean and has been exported in casks to Europe from the 17th century. These barrels were used to store water and food. on board ships. A common myth regarding the importance of rum to sailors is that it was used to treat scurvy edge.

For centuries, many sailors suffered from scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. This vitamin is needed to regulate the formation of collagen in the human body, an essential substance for repairing wounds and preventing infections.

Scurvy was one of the most common diseases on ships. The walking cane sugar, a tropical crop, is one of the main sources of vitamin C. Rum was therefore an ideal drink to prevent scurvy. In addition, rum was consumed; in large quantities because it was very cheap, it also allowed you to keep up with the hard paces at work. on board the ships and -icing on the cake- it was easily accessible thanks to the barrels of the ship…

Rum also contributed; to the development of other musical genres

The connection between rum and the development of other musical styles is no coincidence. It reflects the musical preferences of many West Indians of the time. Ragtime, blues, jazz and even jump blues were played in bars and rum was the drink of choice. Those who frequented the bars were often musicians.

The rum industry offered a great opportunity for brand marketing. The production of these brands of rum was heavily influenced by local musical tastes.

The Rise of Jazz and the Prohibition Era

The””golden age” jazz started to the end of the 1920s and lasted up to the Great Depression. This period is now considered the height of popularity. of this genre of music. At that time, New York was the capital of jazz. Jazz was played; in many clubs in the city and its popularity was constant. As Prohibition began in the United States. The consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages became prohibited.

Jazz, on the other hand, never faltered and jazz clubs remained open, and often under the cloak the consumption of rum and other alcoholic beverages was rife. Jazz has become the “musical” illegal consumption of alcohol. It’s not until 1933 when prohibition was lifted, that productions and brands were able to take off.

The Prohibition era ended in 1933, but the popularity of jazz continued to increase. The Great Depression that followed the end of Prohibition was a period of economic and social decline in the United States. Jazz was a musical genre that illustrated the decline of the era and the difficulties of society. Jazz also became a source of inspiration for many musicians and composers of the time. The Great Depression also saw the birth of many musical styles that were characterized by a brisk beat and lyrics that often referred to hardship and hardship. poverty. These musical styles originating from Jazz were played in bars, they were also associated with alcohol.

The influence of jazz on rum

The popularity growing jazz has been beneficial to the production and marketing of rum. However, the influence of jazz on the rum industry was not limited to marketing. Many businesses have started to produce rums inspired by the popularity jazz. For example, Bacardi, one of the largest producers in the rum industry, started to produce a brand of rum called “Ron Bacardi”, which was inspired by rumba. Although these are marketing strategies, they have also contributed. to the development of musical genres. Popularity rumba and many other musical genres have been influenced by the marketing strategies of the rum industry.

The history of rum and its connection to jazz therefore remains fascinating. The rums continue to grow; this day at; be strongly identified with the Caribbean region, which takes advantage of it to develop its economy through the export of this mythical drink all over the world.  The popularity jazz and the consumption of rum that time were beneficial for the promotion of the rum industry and the production of rums inspired by jazz and the various musical currents of the time.

This article has been written with the collaboration of Mr Patrick Loger, Founding President of the Mondial du Rhum.