Are we really less than a week away until Christmas? Argh! How do I let this happen every year – where I’m scrambling those last few days to get all the stuff in that I should have been doing the weeks prior?! Good thing there’s booze!

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With the release of Mount Gay’s Limited Edition XO Cask Strength last month in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Barbados Independence from the British Crown, I was inspired to make some festive rum old fashioneds.

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For classic cocktail enthusiasts, the Old Fashioned cocktail remains a mainstay. And when you come across a quality spirit, you don’t want to mess with it too much with a variety of convoluted ingredients. This is the go-to cocktail to have that spirit really come through, and have its qualities remain intact.

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Mount Gay Distilleries, the makers of the world’s oldest rum which has been distilled, blended and bottled in Barbados since 1703, released just 3,000 bottles of XO Cask Strength, a limited-edition of its award-winning spirit XO. While I got a sampling of this to play with recently, the actual, full-sized bottle will come in a beautiful keepsake wooden box with a booklet that will take readers through the history of rum’s inception in Barbados. A portion of the sales of every bottle sold will be donated to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society to support its efforts in conserving the significant and inspiring history and culture of Barbados.

If you have a rum enthusiast in your life, this collector’s item is THE gift to give for the holidays. But at a price around $185, they better be deserving! Talk about a top shelf Rum Old Fashioned!

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The raw brown sugar in this old fashioned amps up the rich oak and caramel flavors in the XO. The orange bitters highlights the over ripe fruit, vanilla and spice. And the cranberries add a certain acidity that a citrus peel might lend in a traditional old fashioned. And, most importantly, with such a simple cocktail as this one, it will leave you free to stress about all the other things you have to do before the holidays hits you head on! I’ll take a double!

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Cranberry Rum Old Fashioned
2 oz Aged Rum (Mount Gay XO Cask Strength recommended)
3 dashes Orange Bitters
4-5 fresh cranberries
1 raw brown sugar cube
Splash Club Soda
Garnish: 3-4 fresh cranberries

Add the cranberries, brown sugar, bitters and soda to a mixing glass. Muddle well. Add the rum and fill with ice. Stir mixture until well chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned or rocks glass over large ice-cube. Garnish with skewered cranberries.

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Samples of Mount Gay Rum were provided for this post.

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