The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution

unnamedIt’s time for another book review by Johannes, our Rum Aficionado. This time he is introducing us to Tristan Stephenson’s “The Curious Bartender’s Rum Revolution”. It’s Stephenson’s fifth book so far, after publishing very successfully on cocktails, whisky, gin and coffee.
The hardcopy version was published in 2017 and sells for around 16€. It has 256 beautifully designed pages in colour and contains rich pictures. The book starts with the history of rum, a rather brief touch of all the important issues in the history of rum. For example “the kill devil story” aka the birth of rum, the triangular trade involving sugar, slaves and rum or the daily rum ration of the British navy are covered.

The second chapter focuses on “how rum is made”. It depicts all the major steps in the production of rum such as fermentation, distillation and maturation. What makes this chapter complete and better than many other books on rum is that he also talks about rum’s open secrete, sweetening. If you are new to rum and don’t own a copy of the book already, I highly recommend you to take a little “detour” and read this articleAnother point worthy mentioning is his introduction to the classification of rum according to Gargano/Seale, which classifies rum into single pot-still, single column still, single blended, blended rum and simple rum. This classification should replace the very outdated classification of rum into white, gold and brown rum.

The next chapter describes his travels to more than 20 rum producing countries. In fact, it is this chapter that makes this book so great. It is organized by countries, with a brief country introduction followed by descriptions of the distilleries. These vary a bit in quality but they mostly provides a good overview of the history, production and some tasting notes for the main rum expressions. What makes the book so special is that he also introduces some rather small distilleries such as Poisson on Marie-Galante, home of the fantastic, yet not so well-known “Père Labat” rhums or the River Antoine distillery, whose rums seems to be impossible to get outside of Grenada.  The chapter is concluded with an overview on the blenders and bottlers such as E&A Scheer, Mezan or Velier.

The last chapter of the book is the obligatory chapter on rum cocktails. Again, well made with recipes, short descriptions of the history and other curiosities about the different cocktails can be found.


The Curious Bartender´s Rum Revolution by Tristan Stephenson is a very informative, up-to-date and simply well-made book. No doubt, there are better, more detailed books on the history of rum. However, the excellence of it is its chapter on the different distilleries with numerous pictures and all the side information. So do you need this book? Yes, you do, and honestly, for that price, it’s a real bargain!

SCR’s take:​ This book quickly became a favorite of mine. All the time I have been looking for a book with detailed descriptions of the distilleries and here we finally got it. In particular I adore all the information on the distinct fermentation and distillation techniques as well as the history lessons and other background information. Fortunately this is also the core of the book. I’d go as far as saying that if this is what you are looking for and you are to get one book on rum only, this is it!

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