"RUm was by far the most popular spirit of the era, and often the only spirit sold. Guests could have ordered up a mimbo, a sling, a bombo, a syllabub, a punch, a calibogus, a flip, a bellowstop, a sampson, or stonewall. Colonial tavern keepers were every bit as imaginative as today's $12-a-cocktail bartender and would have added molasses and dried pumpkin and coarse sugar and water and bit of citrus and whatever else was at hand to give the drink some depth - and, more to the point, to mask the rum's taste."
-"...and a bottle of Rum" by Wayne Curtis
The recipe I tried was for a shrub. A shrub is a vinegar based drink, possibly for preservation of the mixer, that used to be popular with our founding fathers and is still served in various bars in Philadelphia and Washington DC that cater to a crowd enamored with them.
The recipe is:
One part rum and one part shrub in crushed ice and then topped off with water or ginger beer.
The shrub is made by taking one cup white wine vinegar, a half cup water, a half cup sugar, and one pint of fruit to be boiled down and strained. It can then be stored in the fridge.
Of course, to try this vintage cocktail, I had to make it myself. I made two types, one raspberry following the recipe above. The other was a balsamic strawberry where half my vinegar was balsamic. In drinks, they both seem to work for me. The do have a tart tang from the vinegar but that along with the sugar and fruit does it's job of covering up the rum (not that the rum I used, Cruzan, needs to be covered up). The raspberry is sort of 'eh' (I'm not big on raspberries anyway) but the balsamic strawberry is very nice. I tried both with water but I'll have to try topping off with ginger beer next.