A dark and stormy is the unofficial drink of yacht clubs everywhere, and it’s also one of the simplest cocktails to make AND riff off. As a sailor myself, I’ve spent many an evening at the yacht club bar enjoying a dark and stormy imagining the possibilities…
Though the true version has very specific ingredients, there are thousands of variations off of this simple formula. To start, all you need is some dark rum*, ginger beer, and lime. Now, are you ready to make this your signature cocktail?
There’s no fancy equipment required to make this cocktail. If you happen to have a jigger and highball glass hanging around, fantastic. I certainly will not judge if you eyeball it, or use an alternative drinking vessel. Extra style points for a copper mug.
There are 3 (maybe 4) key ingredients to making a classic dark and stormy:
- *Dark rum is the rum of choice. The rum is the “dark” part of the cocktail. Fun fact: this cocktail is one of 5 trademarked beverages in the United States. Legally, if you call it a dark and stormy, you must use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. This is also why if you order this drink at a restaurant or bar, it might have a slightly different name if it uses another rum. In my case, I used a lighter rum because it’s what I had on hand.
- Ginger beer is the “stormy” part of the drink. Again, Gosling’s is preferred. They allegedly brew it to match the notes in the Black Seal Rum, but I’m not picky when it comes to my cocktails.
- Ice is obviously required for any beverage not served piping hot.
- Lime is completely optional, but who doesn’t love ginger beer with a little lime?
Frequently asked questions
Which rum is best for making a dark and stormy? A true dark ‘n’ stormy can only use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. That said, you can make a version of this beverage with other rums. This time, I used a lighter golden rum – it hasn’t aged as long, so the deeper more complex notes in the rum aren’t as developed. If you decide to use a spiced rum, you’ll have a sweeter beverage as spiced rum usually contains molasses or some kind of sweetener.
Which ginger beer is best for making a dark and stormy? The recommended rum for a dark ‘n’ stormy cocktail is Gosling’s Ginger Beer, brewed specifically to complement the notes in the Black Seal Rum. But in a pinch, use what you have. I’ve found most liquor stores stock some kind of ginger beer near the mixers, and there’s a good chance it will be Gosling’s if you’re in a coastal town.
Why is this drink called a dark and stormy? The dark and cloudy drink looks like dark storm clouds.
What are some easy variations on a dark and stormy? The best thing about this drink is that it’s easy to play around with. Here are some of my favorites:
- Add a small squeeze of grapdefruit or lime juice – both of these citrus fruits pair well with ginger. If you’re a grapefruit cocktail fan, check out this grapefruit moscow mule and grapefruit vodka soda.
- Around the holidays, sub Goslings Black Seal Rum for some spiced rum and add a cinnamon stick.
- Add a pinch of pumpkin spice around the Halloween.
- For a dark n stormy float, nix the ice, and add a small scoop of ice cream on top of the ginger beer, then add the rum floater. If you’ve never tried plant-based ice cream, this would be an excellent opportunity to try a coconut milk base ice cream. Make your own, or check your local grocery store.
- Sub a couple ounces of ginger beer for apple cider (or hard cider if you’re feeling feisty).
1–2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (other dark rums will work in a pinch)
4–6 oz ginger beer, preferably Gosling’s
Optional: lime wedge, grapefruit juice
1. Fill a highball glass with ice and 4-6 oz of ginger beer, leaving an inch or so of space for rum.
2. Pour 1-2 oz rum on top. Garnish with lime wedge if desired & enjoy!
To riff off of this dark and stormy recipe, play around with substituting different spirits for dark rum – try spiced rum, light rum, etc. While ginger beer should be the major mixer, you can substitute an ounce or two for other mixers like apple cider (or hard cider). See above for more ideas!