Matty Durgin, a Denver-based rum afficiando, has a fascination with rum that spurred from his love affair with tiki that started when he visited DisneyWorld as a kid. He’s a rum collector with more than 100 bottles from all over the world, and when it comes to anything and everything rum, he’s quite well read.
Durgin showed up for his interview with The Hooch Life with three books in hand that will introduce you to rum and its rich history. He chose to meet us at Denver’s Williams & Graham, his favorite place to drink rum because owner and bartender Sean Kenyon always has some special rum stashed in his pirate sleeves.
Here are Durgin’s three book recommendations, along with rum cocktails to sip while you read.
Trader Vic’s 1947 Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic
The legendary tiki master Trader Vic is heralded for the invention of many classic rum cocktails that are still making a splash in bars today. Escape into his recipe guidebook with a refreshing cocktail like the Painkiller that will transport you to the beach in the Caribbean. Get the book »
Barbecue Chef by Louis A. Spievak
Much of the lore associated with rum comes from its dark, secretive history, says Durgin, who explains that traditional rum cocktails were often written ambivalently, alluding to ingredients and leaving out recipe steps. Spievak didn’t define any of the specific ingredients needed to make the traditional Zombie cocktail when he wrote this book in 1950, and some would argue that there is no official way to make the drink. This book is evidence that the Zombie can be whatever you want it to be. Here’s our Zombie recipe to try. Get the book »
And A Bottle of Rum…A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis
In this lively narrative, Curtis explores the history of America from the bottom of a drinking glass full of rum. He passionately and succinctly packages hundreds of years of history into ten entertaining chapters. Our advice is to drink 10 rum cocktails for 10 chapters, but if you must choose just one, read this book alongside a Modernista cocktail. It’s a contemporary drink just saucy enough to make you think of wild pirates, and just classy enough to remind you of how rum and its drinkers have evolved over the years. Get the book »