Dark and Stormy: Recipe, 5 Variations & 3 Similar Cocktails
If you’re looking for a refreshing rum cocktail with complex flavors, you’ve got to try a Dark and Stormy. This popular cocktail is a hit worldwide, but harbors a controversial past. Read on for a delicious recipe, plus tasty alternatives.
Cocktails are almost always a good idea, whether you’re hosting a party or a dinner, going out for drinks, or just looking to treat yourself.
However, it’s important to know a variety of cocktail recipes so you can be sure to pick the perfect drink for any occasion. One unique cocktail choice is the Dark and Stormy, which we will now explore further.
Introduction to Dark and Stormy
The Dark and Stormy is a dark rum-based cocktail, mixed with ginger beer and other ingredients. While similar to the Moscow Mule, the use of rum rather than vodka gives this cocktail a more warming and complex flavor profile (though it is still refreshing).
Legend has it that the name of the cocktail comes from a sailor who, while enjoying one, remarked that it was the color of a storm cloud only the boldest would risk casting off under.
What Dark and Stormy Is
So what exactly is a Dark and Stormy? To get the full picture of this cocktail, you need to account for its origin story, the perfectly chosen ingredients, and the classic recipe that has come together to make this drink what it is today:
Brief History / Origin
The Dark and Stormy is said to have originated in Bermuda sometime between the two World Wars. The drink became popularized through advertisements by the Gosling Brothers, a rum producer, and Barritts Ginger Beer, who formed a partnership to boost sales of the cocktail and in turn their own products.
However, the pairing soon ran into issues, and the Gosling Brothers began making their own ginger beer – Stormy Ginger Beer – much to the dismay of Barritts.
This wasn’t the only legal drama that the Gosling Brothers have been embroiled in over the Dark and Stormy.
In fact, they trademarked the name “Dark ‘N Stormy” by which the cocktail is commonly sold in an attempt to stop competitors from advertising the drink.
Several companies have in fact been sued successfully by the Gosling Brothers for selling or promoting a version of the “Dark ‘N Stormy” that does not use Gosling Black Seal Rum.
While cocktail recipes cannot be trademarked, their names can be – prompting the drink to be sold under “safe harbor” or other names.
To make an official Dark and Stormy, you will need 60 milliliters of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and 100 ml of ginger beer, in addition to ice and a lime wedge garnish.
However, some common variations include adding lime juice and simple syrup. It’s up to you whether you want the simple and classic original cocktail which has a strong rum taste, or if you prefer a little more tartness and sweetness.
It’s important to use a high-quality ginger beer to ensure you get the best-tasting cocktail. If you want to stick as close to the original as possible, try to find a case of Barritt’s Bermudan ginger beer or Gosling’s Stormy Ginger beer.
Both of which are readily available online if you cannot find them in a store near you. However, any true, fermented ginger beer will work, such as Bundaberg, Reed’s, or Fever Tree.
Make sure not to use a ginger ale – a non-fermented, ginger-flavored soda – as it will be too light and sweet to properly balance with the rum.
Best Rum Brands for Dark and Stormy
As stated above, you need to use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum if you want to make a true Dark and Stormy. However, if you’re looking to create a similar cocktail, other fine, dark rums are also okay. We’ll now explore some of the best rums to make a Dark and Stormy with:
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
If you’re looking to make a Dark and Stormy, you need to use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. This classic Bermuda dark rum has been used in Dark and Stormys since its inception and has been a popular spirit since its beginning in 1806.
It has a rich and complex flavor, with notes of butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel.
If you’re after a strong cocktail, Plantation O.F.T.D. is a great choice. Their “Old Fashioned Traditional Dark” rum is overproofed at 69 percent ABV, so proceed with caution.
Though the main flavor may be the strength of this rum, it also has notes of cinnamon, raisins, nutmeg, oak, and molasses that can be detected by the discerning palette.
This Jamaican rum is a slightly different choice, with fruity notes of dried apricots and peaches. While it’s often used in daiquiris, it’s excellent in many different cocktails.
Recipe – How to Make a Dark and Stormy
Dark and Stormys are very easy to make. You don’t need any specialized equipment – just a highball glass, a spoon, and a knife to cut your lime with. However, there are two ways to make the drink, which are subtly different:
To make a classic Dark and Stormy, you first add your ginger beer to a glass filled with ice and then float in your rum. To float your rum, hold a spoon upside down over the drink just above to top of the ginger beer and slowly pour the liquor over the spoon into the glass.
This creates a distinct layer, so make sure not to stir the drink. Then, garnish with a wedge of lime on the brim of the glass and serve.
This version tastes strong for the first few sips, then mellows out as the drink dilutes with the ice melting and the rum slowly mixing with the ginger beer.
However, typically Dark and Stormys are made more similarly to other cocktails. This means that you add your rum (and lime juice and simple syrup, if using) to your glass full of ice, and then fill to the brim with ginger beer, garnish, and serve.
This act of pouring combines the drink a little, but often a long spoon is used to gently stir the drink as well, ensuring it’s mixed thoroughly. This variety tastes the same throughout the drinking experience.
Time & Occasions for Drinking a Dark and Stormy
Due to its tropical origins, the Dark and Stormy is often seen as a warm weather drink.
The ginger beer and lime make it a refreshing and invigorating cocktail, perfect as a pick-me-up (and a cool-me-down) on a hot summer’s day.
This also means it’s ideal for serving in the afternoon. There’s nothing better than a Dark and Stormy at the beach or poolside. However, you’re free to make a Dark and Stormy whenever you like (within reason). They’re excellent at barbecues, for a night out, or as a pre-dinner treat.
Dark rum cocktails are always great with indulgent, meaty dishes. Try serving your Dark and Stormy with burgers, brisket, or even a nice steak.
However, the inclusion of ginger beer and lime lightens up the palette of this drink – meaning it’s also a great match with fried chicken, tacos or other Mexican foods, and even flavor-rich Asian cuisine. Try serving a Dark and Stormy with Pad Thai, or even a Vegetable Stir Fry.
If you’re looking for appetizers to pair with this cocktail, you can use the same formula: either meaty and hearty, or light and zesty. Both work extremely well.
The Dark and Stormy goes amazingly with sliders, beef nachos, or polpette (mini Italian meatballs), but also with chips and salsa, stuffed bell peppers, and shrimp cocktails.
Planning on serving Dark and Stormy cocktails with dessert? We recommend leaning into the tropical theme and serving with fruit-based desserts.
Best Glass to Serve a Dark and Stormy
A Dark and Stormy is traditionally served in a highball glass. A highball is a broad category of cocktail, encompassing any drink that is served “tall”; that is, with more mixer than spirit and generally consists of just one base spirit and one carbonated mixer.
The large size and tall shape of the highball glass allow a lot of ice to be included in the drink, keeping it cold while still having plenty of room for the liquid.
Variations of Dark and Stormy
If you love the Dark and Stormy but it’s not quite right, you can always alter the recipe. As previously mentioned, the most common variation on the original recipe is the addition of lime juice and/or simple syrup. However, there are several other variations you can try:
Light and Stormy
One of the features that makes Dark and Stormy unique is its use of dark rum (which is generally served straight) rather than light rum, which is more commonly used in cocktails.
However, if you prefer to stick to light rum, you can use it in this recipe as well. Light rum is generally sweeter with a more mild, subtle flavor than dark rum – so if you’ve found the rum taste a little much, this variation is the one for you.
If you’re not fussed with tradition, you can use the basic flavor profiles of the Dark and Stormy to whip together a cheap (and still pretty good) mixed drink.
Just use a shot or two of rum, a can of ginger ale like Canadian Dry, throw them in a cup, and you’re good to go. Add a squirt of lime juice if you have any on hand.
If you’re a fan of Gosling’s Rum, you’re bound to love the Rum Swizzle. This cocktail is an upgraded Dark and Stormy and is even the official drink of Bermuda.
To make a batch of Rum Swizzles, fill a pitcher a third of the way up with crushed ice, then add in four ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, four ounces of Gosling’s Gold Seal Rum.
Add eight ounces of orange juice, eight ounces of pineapple juice, three-quarters of an ounce of grenadine, and six dashes of Angostura bitters.
Then, spin a swizzle stick (a stick with branched ends, a paddle with holes, or another means of agitating the liquid) between the palms of your hands to vigorously churn or “swizzle” the drink until it’s thoroughly mixed and frost appears on the outside of the pitcher.
You then serve the Rum Swizzles over fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a cherry, orange slice, and/or pineapple wedge.
Dark and Stormy Orchard
An early variation of the Dark and Stormy that’s popular in Bermuda is the Dark and Stormy Orchard. To make it, you pour one ounce of apple cider into a rocks glass filled with ice, followed by three ounces of ginger beer.
Then, float two ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal rum on top of the mixture, and top with a half ounce of lime juice. Garnish with an apple slice and lime wedge, and enjoy. Another similar variation is the Fall Stormy, which uses bourbon, cider, and lemon juice as well as ginger beer.
It’s difficult to make a mocktail Dark and Stormy, as the dark rum gives this cocktail its signature flavor. However, if you have the time you can make a zero alcohol approximation.
First, create a spiced lime cordial by combining lime zest, salt, pepper, ginger, and cloves into a cup of sugar, and then dissolve the sugar into lime juice. Then refrigerate, strain, and re-refrigerate.
Following that, prepare a strong black tea such as Darjeeling or English Breakfast, and chill. Finally, combine one ounce of the lime cordial with three ounces of the strong chilled tea in a highball glass filled with ice, top with ginger beer, and garnish with a lime wedge.
The resulting drink has a similar bite and spiciness to a Dark and Stormy, without the booze.
Similar Cocktails You Will Enjoy
Looking for something else? If you enjoyed the Dark and Stormy and want a similar cocktail to try, here are our top picks. From the Moscow Mule to the Rum Punch, you’re bound to find something to enjoy.
While they’re all a little different from the Dark and Stormy, they each share an ingredient or flavor profile that makes them similar in feel.
The Moscow Mule gets its name from being a mule (also known as a buck, mules are cocktails that contain ginger beer, citrus, and liquor) and using vodka as a base spirit, which is generally linked to Moscow and Russia.
To make this cocktail, you combine vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice in a copper mug filled with ice, and garnish with a slice of lime or a sprig of mint.
While the ginger beer and lime give this drink a very similar flavor profile to the Dark and Stormy, the use of vodka rather than dark rum makes it lighter and cleaner in flavor, and arguably more refreshing.
If it’s the tropical vibes of the Dark and Stormy that were your favorite aspect of the drink, you should definitely try a Mai Tai. This iconic tiki cocktail is colorful, fruity, and delicious.
To make it, you combine white rum, orange curaçao, freshly squeezed lime juice, and Orgeat syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice, and mix until combined and chilled.
Then, pour the mixture into a rocks glass with fresh cubed or crushed ice and float dark rum on top, then garnish with a sprig of mint, a maraschino cherry, a wedge of lime, and/or a slice of pineapple.
This cocktail is a great choice if you like the rum and lime flavors in the Dark and Stormy but are after something a little more complex, sweet, and fruity.
Another delicious, fruity, rum-based cocktail is rum punch. To make it, you combine dark rum, light rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime juice. Add grenadine in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake until well chilled and foamy.
Then, strain into a hurricane glass filled with fresh ice, and garnish with a maraschino or brandied cherry. This cocktail is a great choice if you love the flavor of dark rum but prefer a fruity cocktail rather than the taste of ginger beer or are avoiding carbonation.