Blooming hibiscus, tradewinds, mango trees and an average year-round temperature of 80 degrees might make most people think of Hawaii. But you’ll find all this and more on St. Croix, the largest of the Virgin Islands.

With a centuries-old sugarcane industry producing molasses as a byproduct, it’s no surprise that St. Croix is home to some of the world’s finest rum.

The Nelthropp family has been making rum since 1760, when the first batches of the pot-stilled spirit were produced. Eight generations later, pot stills have given way to continuous columns, and flavored Cruzan rums are hugely popular. But the elegant and luxurious Single Barrel Estate remains one of the family’s flagship rums.

A blend of up to 12 different rums, the copper-colored Single Barrel Estate has hints of gold after emerging from a year of aging in American oak. It has aromas of vanilla, caramel and maple syrup. Warm and smooth on the palate, there are hints of honey and pepper, with notes of ginger on the long, sweet finish.

In truth, Single Barrel Estate needs no more than ice and an orange twist over the glass rim to bring out flavors of caramel and spice for a great after-dinner drink.

For pre-dinner sipping, Cruzan Light is an easy choice. The lighter-bodied rum goes through a further filtration process after its year in oak, and the result is a smooth, golden rum sweet with vanilla notes.

This Cruzan Mango Crush, with island fruits, fresh guava and Hawaiian honey, strikes the perfect note on any tropical night.

CRUzAN MANGO CRUSH

Recipe by Chandra L. Lam, director of mixology for Southern Wine & Spirits of Hawaii

Ingredients:

* 1 1/4 ounces Cruzan Estate Light Rum
* 1/2 ounce Cruzan Guava Rum
* 3 chunks fresh seedless watermelon
* 2 lemon wedges
* 1/2 ounce Hawaiian lehua honey
* Splash of guava juice

Method:

Muddle watermelon, lemon and lehua honey in mixing glass. Add rums and the splash of guava juice. Shake thoroughly and strain twice into chilled martini glass. Garnish with watermelon chunk and a mint sprig.

tagged in Cruzan Rum