Eddie St Aimee has carved a niche for himself in his bar tucked away in Dominica. In as much as people travel the islands to enjoy the beaches and amazing street foods, some purposely troop to the self-declared rum doctor and self-taught herbalist whose rum mixtures have healing and soothing effects on people.
Rum is engrained in Caribbean culture and considered one of the staple drinks of the islands. The famous spirit, which comes in different blends, has also inspired other cultures far beyond the world of cocktails. It also has a history weaved in colonialism, slavery, and economic oppression, especially in the Americas.
Since the sugarcane industry was made possible by slavery, it is believed that enslaved people may have developed the rum-making process. “Molasses could be sold and used as a sweetener too, but the fermented molasses was enjoyed by the slaves and by poor whites. At some point, somebody distilled these fermented molasses, and rum was born,” spirits writer Fred Minnick recently said.
St. Aimee has been curating unique rum mixes for a decade using ancient recipes that could have been passed down from his enslaved ancestors. These mixes do not only satisfy the taste buds but also have healing effects. The brews for some of his concoctions vary but they all have some basic herbs, plants, seeds and fruits.
For these elixirs to be potent, St. Aimee lets them marinate for two weeks. There are mixes that cure lingering colds, erectile dysfunction and heartbreaks. There are some for tummy upsets and others to soothe sore throats, among others.
However, the most requested blend is the rum spice mix which is infused with cinnamon — an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Basically, the rum spice mix is the holy grail to many problems and ailments. “If someone has the flu, that’s easy – they need to drink spice. It’s a young man’s drink, they say, as it helps you relax after hard work,” said St. Aimee. Spice eases the aches and pains – it’s good for any problem,” he added.
The Rum doctor has a remedy for almost any type of ailment and has the listening ear for his customers who troop in near and far in search of solutions to their emotional and physical ailments. At times, a strong rum blend is all they require. At other times, they are in search of something more soothing to help them relax and for that, St. Aimee whips up soursop of guanabana, which reduces fever and relieves some respiratory and stomach issues to alleviate that uneasy feeling and help the person have a good rest.
There are even rum blends that cure paranormal issues. “Many bush rums can be used to ward off evil such as the old reliable garlic rum,” St Aimee said. But he claims that the strongest potion to fend off dark magic is Twef. “It’s a three-leaf herb that I recommend when a customer feels that someone has done something bad. It’s a ‘break the spell’ kind of rum.”
Experts say St. Aimee’s mixes are safe to drink when used in the right portions. For instance, herbs with a strong aphrodisiac reputation for men affect blood pressure and should thus be used with caution.