The Best Rum Cocktails to Try Right Now
Celebrate #NationalRumDay with these boozy drinks from America’s best bars.
Let’s be honest; we’ve all had our mixed experiences with rum. Even though it may have left us with a gnarly hangover in a past life, that doesn’t mean we should necessarily write it off for good.
This cane spirit has seen ebbs and flows in its popularity but, right now, it is on the up and up due to an increased awareness in tiki culture, and many cocktail bars keeping a deliciously balanced rum cocktail on their menus to re-open the minds of many imbibers who may have not been enthused their first time around.
Oftentimes, these cocktails are garnished with fun-looking straws, paper umbrellas, edible flowers, and an assortment of other unique garnishes that entice bar-goers to take a chance on one of these drinks (usually with the thought of having a solid “photo-opp” for the ‘gram).
With that, I have collected some of the best rum cocktail recipes from noteworthy bars around the country for you to either go and try for yourself, or to use as inspiration to make at home this National Rum Day.
I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
By Lee Carames of The Aviary NYC – New York
- 2 oz. Ten To One Dark Rum
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- Ginger Snow (see below)
Ginger Snow: Take 5 parts water, 4 parts sugar, 1 part ginger juice and mix together until homogeneous. Add to iSi Cream Whipper, charge with an nitrogen cartridge, and shake. Inject mixture into liquid nitrogen and muddle continuously until it is powdered “snow.” (Note: Do not attempt to make without proper protective equipment and training on how to handle liquid nitrogen.)
Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake hard with ice. Strain cocktail over Ginger Snow and enjoy.
Our Piña Colada
Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Co. – Miami
- 1.5 cups crushed ice
- 1.5 oz. aged rum (Sweet Liberty creates their own house blend of spiced Cruzan coconut rum and aged Cana Brava rum and Stolen rums; may substitute rum blend with aged rum of your choice)
- 2 1-inch fresh pineapple chunks
- 1.5 oz. pineapple juice
- 3 oz. cream of coconut (Sweet Liberty makes their own coconut cream; Coco Lopez cream of coconut works well as a substitute)
- 5 coffee beans
- 1 oz. Pedro Ximénez sherry
Combine the ice, rum, pineapple chunks and juice, cream of coconut and coffee beans in a blender; puree until smooth. Pour into chilled glass; pour the sherry on top. Garnish with mint sprig and/or cherry.
By Kevin Beary of The Bamboo Room – Chicago
- 1 oz. Aged Panamanian Rum
- .5 oz. Aged Barbados Rum
- .5 oz Tokaji
- 1 lime
- .75 Steen’s Cane Syrup or Martinique Sirop De Canne
- 1 oz. fine brut champagne
- 8-10 mint leaves
Place mint leaves in bottom of a tall glass. Combine liquid ingredients in glass with swizzle stick. Add crushed ice and swizzle keeping mint leaves at bottom. Top with crushed ice, pour champagne over ice. Garnish with mint if desired.
Reyla – Asbury Park, New Jersey
The inclusion of Angostura Amaro adds the perfect bitter-bite to round-out this tiki-inspired cocktail.
- 1 oz. Angostura five-year dark rum
- 1 oz. Angostura Amaro
- .75 oz. fresh lime
- .75 oz. pineapple juice
- .5 oz. spiced vanilla syrup
- .25 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- 3 dashes Bittermen’s tiki bitters
Mix all ingredients in a shaker; shake, and strain into double old fashioned glass, top with ice, and garnish with freshly shaved nutmeg.
Smoked Old Fashioned
Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar – Atlanta
If you’ve never had a rum old fashioned, then this recipe is an absolute must. Pop-in for one of their smoked versions, or make yourself the classic at home. You won’t be disappointed.
- 2 oz. Santa Teresa 1796
- .25 oz. Demerara syrup (1:1)
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 dashes orange bitters
Stir and pour into a glass bottle then fill up with hickory smoke using a smoking gun. Serve over ice & garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel & a maraschino cherry.
The Beehive – San Francisco
They serve this one as both a slushy (pictured above), and as a traditional cocktail… pick your poison.
- 1.5 oz. Santa Teresa 1796
- 1 oz. guava purree
- .5 oz. Aperol
- .75 oz. lime juice
- .25 oz. simple syrup
Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, and tiny umbrella.
The Hawthorne – Boston
Sub in this quality rum for gin in this perfect rum Negroni.
- 1 oz. Flor de Caña 7
- 1 oz. Gran Classico
- 1 oz. vermouth blanc
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass; stir and serve up with a lemon twist.
Waiting for Chinola
Academia – Austin
The classic combination of rum and passionfruit (found in iconic tiki classics like the Hurricane and Zombie) brings you to a tropical island with just one sip. Close your eyes and try it; I’m not entirely wrong.
- 1.5 oz. Santa Teresa Claro rum
- .75 oz. Liber & Co. passionfruit syrup
- .75 oz. lemon juice
- 1 barspoon Becherovka
- 1 oz. Lazy Day Lager (or equivalent substitution)
- Dash of Monin pomegranate syrup
Combine all ingredients except the Lager into a shaker with ice and lightly shake. Strain into a collins or pilsner glass and then add cubed ice. Next, top with lager and a small scoop of crushed ice. Dash pomegranate syrup over the top of the ice and top with pomegranate seeds.
Rummin’ with the Devil
Sycamore Den – San Diego
With this blend of rums, the coconut, and banana, you are in for a dangerously good time.
- 1.5 oz. rum blend (made with Appleton rum, Clement Rhum Agricole and Cruzan Light rum)
- .75 oz. fresh lime juice
- .5 oz. coconut cream
- .5 oz. banana liqueur
- .25 oz. pimento dram
- 2 dashes Pernod
Fill tiki glass with crushed ice. Mix all ingredients in a shaker; lightly shake until chilled and serve on crushed ice in a tiki glass. Top with Peychaud’s bitters, mint, nutmeg and edible flowers.
The Nest at The Thompson – Seattle
The inclusion of the southeast-Asian, herbaceous pandan leaf and syrup makes for a uniquely fragrant and flavorful rum cocktail.
- 1.5 oz. Bacardi Ocho rum
- .75 oz. pandan syrup
- .5 oz. lime juice
- 2.5 oz. Foco roasted coconut water
Build cocktail in a chilled tiki-style mug. Top with ice and garnish with about ¼ of a trimmed pandan leaf.
The Up & Up – New York City
Anytime a cocktail has Plantation pineapple rum, you know it’s going to be a hit. This cocktail is no exception.
- 1.25 oz. Plantation pineapple rum
- .5 oz. Ancho Reyes
- .5 oz. Suze
- .5 oz. yuzu or lemon juice
- .25 oz. honey syrup
- 1 dash saline
Whip shake (use a few small cubes, or one large one, to shake and have the ice dissolve completely before serving). Once shaken, serve over crushed ice, garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Bright n’ Sunny
Katana Kitten – New York City
If you haven’t heard about butterfly pea flower by now, you’re missing out. You can buy some to make this simple highball pop with that beautiful, color-changing purple, or pop-in to enjoy it at the bar.
- 1.5 oz. Banks 5 Island Blend white rum infused with butterfly pea flower
- Dash of lime juice
- Topped with ginger beer
Build in highball glass and garnish with lime and a pineapple slice.
The Polynesian – New York City
The addition of ube extract (made from a Filipino sweet potato) gives this stirred-daiquiri riff a bright purple hue to really catch the eye.
- 1 oz. pineapple infused Barbancourt white rum
- 1 oz. El Dorado three-year rum
- 1 oz. lime juice
- .50 oz. cane syrup
- 1 teaspoon Orgeat Works HD orgeat
- 1 dash ube extract
Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass; stir and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an orchid.
Tyler Zielinski is a lifestyle writer with a passion for cocktails and spirits. Follow him on Instagram at @bon_vivantito and check out his website.