Here’s to Sweet Freedom: Pink Bikini Cocktail

Two hundred and fifty years ago today, Parliament passed the Sugar Act of 1764, which cut the tax on imported molasses in half (yay!) but increased the measures to actually collect it (BOOOOO!!!).

The colonists hadn’t exactly been eager to pay the six pence per gallon tax under the Molasses Act of 1733; that revenue had been coming in slower than … well, you know. But no one across the pond raised much of a fuss about it until the Seven Years War (aka French and Indian War) caused the British national debt to swell from £75 million to £130 million, at which point Prime Minister George Grenville decided that the colonies needed to start picking up part of the tab for their defense.

So, Grenville devised the Sugar Act, which placed new duties on several imported items that were popular in the colonies (sugar, certain wines, coffee, etc.) and regulated the export of lumber and iron, sharply reducing the non-British markets with which the colonies could trade.

The Sugar Act also cracked down on smuggling. Ship captains would now be required to maintain detailed cargo manifests; violators could have their vessels held in port and would be sent to vice admiralty courts rather than to jury trials within the much friendlier confines of local colonial courts.

The colonists were not amused. The end of the Seven Years War had already dealt a big blow to the colonial economy, which had been bolstered by supplying the British Army. Now their trade was disrupted, their smuggling was hampered – and soon the Currency Act would come along and end the colonies’ ability to print their own paper money. Things were getting testy.

This is where you’d expect some great patriot to stand up and give an impassioned “give me sugar or give me death” type of speech. And indeed, Samuel Adams did speak out against the Sugar Act, angry missives appeared in newspapers, a handful of Boston merchants stopped purchasing British luxury imports and there were some scattered skirmishes.

But the Sugar Act didn’t really inspire a huge backlash, in part because it was repealed in 1766. And the Stamp Act came along in 1765, which proved far more unpopular. But the Sugar Act’s tax on molasses did prompt an immediate decline in the colonial rum industry. So let’s commemorate this day in history with a sweet rum cocktail that’s not too (ahem) taxing to make. Consider it your patriotic duty to have one today.

Pink Bikini Cocktail

  • 1.75 liters raspberry lemonade
  • 2 cups coconut rum
  • 1 cup amaretto

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir well. Pour into your favorite ice-filled American-made drinkware. Garnish with raspberries, if you’re feeling fancy, and sip responsibly, you Yankee Doodle Dandy.

— Matt Rehm