Home-spiced rum

Eric and I like to travel on the cheap and we usually visit countries that we have an excuse to go to - maybe we have a conference, know some friends who live there, or we just plan a long layover in a stopover-country on our way back to the states.  But when it came to our honeymoon, we figured there is no better reason to travel somewhere we wouldn't otherwise visit and we might as well do it right!

So after the I-do's, the cake, and the rings (and a pre-honeymoon work conference in Ethiopia), we flew down to Madagascar with some wedding cash and few expectations.

A pirate cemetery on Ile St. Marie, Madagascar

There is A LOT to say about Madagascar, a country with seemingly endless unique places to explore, but one pleasant surprise we found upon arrival was the abundance of rum - everywhere!  An island that is known for its pirating history, men long ago waited on the big island, ready to attack ships sailing around the cape of South Africa, and Madagascar has held onto the pirating legacy in the best way possible - through its love for rum.

Rum is usually my drink of choice when I'm not having wine, so I was in heaven when every hotel where we stayed offered free samples of their home-spiced rum.  Over dinner each night, they would bring us small glasses filled with rums of all different flavors, some that went down smooth and others that...didn't.

Several months later, Eric and I moved into our new home and I suddenly had some kitchen space.  I found some great glass bottles at a rummage sale and Eric suggested we bring a part of our honeymoon back and take a shot at spicing our own rum.

I looked it up online, and it seemed easy enough.  We've experimented over the last year with many different spices and flavors, some that go down smooth and some that...don't.  It's been fun to keep experimenting with flavors and offer friends a taste when they visit.

The most popular flavors have been vanilla, cinnamon, orange, and ginger.  To make it, just place a couple of vanilla beans, a few cinnamon sticks, some orange peel, or some slices of ginger (or try your own spices) into a bottle with store-bought rum and wait for a couple of weeks while it infuses.  That's it!

Home-spiced rum

You can also play with combining flavors.  One common recipe I found online calls for a vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, whole black peppers, cloves, ground nutmeg, and orange zest, all which are easy to find in Uganda at Owino or Nakawa markets or from the Indian-owned supermarkets like Embassy, Millennium, or Checkers.

I like to use Old Monk rum as my base, which is one of the best tasting rums available in Uganda for a great price.

Home-spiced rums

You can also infused other alcohols like vodka or gin, but I chose rum because I prefer the taste and, well, maybe it brings out my inner pirate.

Let the spiced rum bring out your inner pirate.  Argh!

**For friends in Uganda, you can find some great glass bottles and other cool trinkets from Millie at the monthly market at Makindye Country Club.