Happy Hour History: The Dark ‘n’ Stormy


Dark ‘n’ Stormy (Jim Sabataso / photo)


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories exploring the history of various cocktails the author likes to make for happy hour. Enjoy responsibly.

For our first Happy Hour History, let’s start with something tropical to match my surroundings (I’m currently in Southwest Florida). Made with ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum — and only Gosling’s Black Seal Rum — and garnished with a lime, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is the official cocktail of Bermuda, where it originated sometime after World War I. As someone who tends to play fast and loose with cocktail construction, the DnS presents a bit of a challenge. The recipe is copyrighted and fiercely defended. Don’t believe me? Check out this New York Times story about just how serious the family is at preserving their brand.


BERMUDA, 1860 —The Gosling family begins experimenting with rum. The result: a dark, distinct, full-bodied “old rum,” which would come to be Gosling’s Black Seal. Elsewhere on the island, the British Royal Navy, satisfied with having conquered the known world, does the next logical thing — they start brewing beer. Ginger beer. It’s not clear why exactly, but some theories suggest it may have been due to ginger’s effectiveness in combatting seasickness or an effort to wean sailors off rum.

At around 20 square miles, Bermuda’s not a big place so it wasn’t long before these two beverages ended up in the same glass. According to legend, the name Dark ‘n’ Stormy was coined by a sailor who, while enjoying the cocktail, commented that it was the “colour of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under.”

Visual approximation

Visual approximation


Dark ‘n’ Stormy

  • 2 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum*
  • 3-4 oz. ginger beer
  • In a glass filled with cracked ice, add the rum and top with the beer. Garnish with a lime.

*Being on the road, my liquor cabinet doesn’t have much depth at the moment. While I could have made a run to get some Gosling’s, I decided to substitute it with Mad River Distillers First Run Rum, which I’ve been wanting to try. It’s a good dark rum, but it does lack the full flavor required to stand up to the ginger beer. Hopefully, the Goslings won’t find out.

What happens when the Goslings find out.

What happens when the Goslings find out.