A few years ago, I was invited to the birthday party of a dear friend who just happens to be a lesbian. Not just your average lesbian mind you; she’s a very well-known, socially involved, power lesbian. We share one friend and I would know only a handful of people there, so our mutual friend was going to carpool with me to the bash. As it so often goes, about an hour before we were going to leave, my carpool buddy bailed. But to hell with it! I put on my cutest little black dress and heels and took off on my own.
When I got to the party it was a fancy event. There was a huge spread of homemade Middle Eastern food and an actual bartender serving signature cocktails in the living room. One of the signature drinks they were serving was a Dark and Stormy. Now I’d never had a Dark and Stormy before, but the name itself was tantalizing.
I ordered one from the fancy bartender and turned to survey the party. I searched for a familiar face, but found none. The Birthday Girl was busy hosting and being fabulous, I’m not even sure if she’d seen me come in yet. Then I spotted a few women smoking on a screened in porch. YES! My people! As I made my way over, I decided that I would ask someone for a lighter to facilitate a conversation.
I asked, and someone graciously lit my cigarette, but went right on talking to the group. This group was comprised of about 98% African American women, mostly butch types. They were discussing the upcoming nuptials of two of the women in the group. I felt myself nodding along and smiling, even though I really wasn’t part of this conversation. I hadn’t felt so glaringly out of place since junior high.
No one was making eye contact with me. Suddenly, was hyper-aware of my heterosexuality and my pure, unadulterated white-ness. I knew that everyone could feel it too. I was desperate. I had to say something. I noticed that some of the girls were drinking a Dark and Stormy as well, and in a moment of pure madness I raised my voice and faced one of the ladies in the group and asked, “Have any of you tried this Dark and Lovely?!?”
(silence and then one of them responds)….. “Don’t you mean Dark and Stormy?”
I’m not sure if you all are aware of this, but “Dark and Lovely” is a very popular brand of African American hair relaxer. And I, an extremely straight Caucasian chick, had just asked a group of gay black girls if they’d ever tried it out. I wanted to die.
Obviously, I corrected myself immediately and then backed away. I had no place here anymore. I went back to the fancy bartender and learned everything I could about making a Dark and Stormy. An authentic Dark and Stormy is made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum and Jamaican ginger beer.
We can get ginger beer here in the States, but it’s not quite as strong as a Jamaican variety. So to supplement, I like to make a ginger simple syrup by grating fresh ginger in equal parts brown sugar and water, and bringing to a boil. Lower down to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes. I also prefer Kraken black rum to Gosling’s, but you could probably use any dark rum you like. Fill a high ball glass with ice, pour a 3rd of the way up with ginger beer, add a splash of the ginger syrup, and top with black rum. Serve with a lime wedge.
Super refreshing on a hot day, and perfect after a long shift at work when you just need to kick back and… relax?
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My friend Jenny Johnson catered drinks at her wedding by providing barrels (!) of ginger ale and rum so people could make Dark & Stormys. Best plan ever.
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