If it hasn’t happened to you yet, you’ll find out soon enough: 40th birthdays really are kind of a big deal. And so it is with the Dark ’n Stormy, a cocktail that marries peppery ginger beer with a dark cloud of Goslings Black Seal Rum floating on top. Each year, June 9 is internationally recognized as Dark ‘n Stormy Day, honoring the trademark of the cocktail and the historical moment in the brand’s story. The drink celebrates this year’s special 40th anniversary, four decades after Goslings first registered a trademark on the cocktail’s name.
A momentous birthday is reason enough to raise a frosty glass. But the Dark ’n Stormy has a history deserving of celebration beyond its years, with beginnings in the British Navy, a name derived from tropical weather, and a family legacy that spans two centuries.
As you toast to another 40 years of the Dark ’n Stormy, here are nine reasons we know this cocktail will stand the test of time:
1. Bermuda officially hearts Dark ‘n Stormy®
Not many places can claim an official mixed drink. The British overseas territory of Bermuda is one of the few. (Other notable official cocktails include Washington, D.C.’s Rickey and Puerto Rico’s Piña Colada.) The Dark ‘n Stormy has a real attachment to this place: James Gosling founded his company in Bermuda all the way back in 1806, after setting sail from England with a boatload of wine and spirits.
2. As long as there are clouds in the sky…
Bermuda locals first started to mix the drink in the 1920s, when the Dark ’n Stormy became popular with British navy officers who were stationed on the island. The sailors found that the ginger beer served in their commissary improved immeasurably with a dose of Goslings Black Seal Rum.
The story goes that an old fisherman saw the color of the dark Black Seal Rum floating over the pale ginger beer, and compared it to a cloud “only a fool or dead man would sail under.” And thus, the cocktail earned the name Dark ‘n Stormy.
3. The Dark ‘n Stormy® can truly only be made with one rum—and there’s a trademark to prove it
Want an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan? Pick your poison. Ordering a Dark ’n Stormy? That necessarily means a drink made with ginger beer, ice and a float of Goslings Black Seal Rum — and no variations, thanks to the trademark registered by Goslings on June 9, 1980.
4. Sailors love it (and so does everyone else)
Its roots in the Royal Navy make the Dark ‘n Stormy a logical go-to for sailors from many ports. Goslings even served as a (natural) sponsor of the 35th America’s Cup that took place around Bermuda in 2017.
But the drink also has fans far inland. “My father was in Prague masterclasses with bartenders a year ago, and the Dark ’n Stormy has already made its name even out there. So that is kind of unexpected,” says eighth-generation rum maker Malcolm Gosling Jr. “But you see it in other places that aren’t as unexpected, such as Rhode Island — because of the sailing culture and the ties that they’ve had between Bermuda and Rhode Island.”
The ever-popular Dark ‘n Stormy is the reason Goslings is known around the globe. “Even though we’ve been around for 200-plus years, exports didn’t really start until the 1980s,” Gosling says. The Dark ‘n Stormy ended up being the catalyst for the expansion of the Goslings brand worldwide.”
5. Goslings doesn’t just make the rum
The ultimate Dark ‘n Stormy relies on the refreshing interplay of sweetness and spiciness. To help home bartenders achieve this, Goslings launched a signature Stormy Ginger Beer back in 2009 that expertly complements its rich dark rum. “A lot of ginger beers are just really fiery and burn the back of your throat,” says Gosling. “We didn’t want that, but we did want the ginger taste to be out front.” All that said, you don’t have to use Goslings Stormy Ginger Beer to make a Dark ‘n Stormy — just look for one that’s nicely peppery without being overly sweet.
6. It’s a drink that will make your cocktail game look world-class
With only two required ingredients — Goslings Black Seal Rum and high-quality, flavorful ginger beer — a Dark ‘n Stormy made in your home kitchen can easily compete with versions made by the world’s best mixologists.
7. The Dark ‘n Stormy® template leaves room for creativity
While lime is the traditional third ingredient, generally presented in the form of a lime-wheel garnish, feel free to express yourself. “I know people who like to put a pineapple in there,” says Gosling. “The garnish is something that you can really play around with — from pineapple to orange, lemon, you name it.” There is also the frozen take on the drink. As Gosling says, “I’ve been spending more time at home recently so I’ve been experimenting with the Frozen Dark ‘n Stormy –I like Kelvin Slush’s Dark ‘n Stormy recipe but you can also just blend Goslings Rum, ginger beer, and ice together in a blender for a simple but creative serve.”
8. When all else fails, you can pop a can
With canned cocktails the way of the future, Goslings offers its Dark ’n Stormy in ready-to-drink servings, making it easily transportable to boats, beaches, golf courses, hiking trails or any other place where glass and mixing isn’t ideal.
9. The Dark ‘n Stormy® is sealed in history
Yes, the label on Goslings Black Seal Rum has a black seal — as in the animal — on it, but when Goslings got started, that name was based on something else entirely: a bit of recycling. In the 19th century, there was no bottle manufacturer in Bermuda, so Goslings used whatever was available from the local naval officers’ mess. “We would reuse Champagne bottles, put a cork in them, and reseal the cork with wax. That blend of rum always got black wax,” says Gosling. “So people became accustomed to asking for the bottle with the black seal.” The sea creature has only graced Gosling’s label since around 1950, when Francis “Goose” Gosling sketched the now-iconic Black Seal logo.
This article is sponsored by Goslings Rum.