THE 12 BEST RUM COCKTAILS TO TRY RIGHT NOW

Recipes from some of the best rum cocktails across the U.S to make at home, or try in-person.

Let’s be honest, we have 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 cool and 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 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.

King Crusher
Reyla, Asbury Park, NJ 

  Photo: Tyler Zielinski

Photo: Tyler Zielinski

The inclusion of Angostura Amaro adds the perfect bitter-bite to round-out this tiki-inspired cocktail.

1 oz Angostura 5yr 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
Garnish: Nutmeg

Method: mix all ingredients in a shaker; shake, and strain into double old fashioned glass, top with ice, and garnish with freshly shaved nutmeg. 

Lost Lake
Lost Lake, Chicago

  Photo: Lyndon French

Photo: Lyndon French

Recently awarded America's Best Cocktail Bar at the Spirited Awards, this tiki cocktail comes with a significant amount of credibility. They even named it after their bar if the ingredients aren't convincing enough.

2 oz. aged Jamaican rum
.75 oz. passion fruit syrup
.75 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. pineapple juice
.25 oz. maraschino liqueur
.25 oz. Campari
Garnish: pineapple frond, pineapple slice, orange peel, edible flowers

Method: Shake all of the ingredients with 1 cup of crushed ice. Strain into a mug and add more crushed ice to fill. Garnish.

Commodore Daiquiri
The Polynesian, New York

  Photo: Noah Fecks

Photo: Noah Fecks

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 Rhum
1 oz El Dorado 3yr Rum
1 oz lime juice
.50 oz cane syrup
1 tsp Orgeat Works HD orgeat
1 dash ube extract
Garnish: Orchid (or edible flower of choice)

Method: Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass; stir & strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an orchid.

The Quimbara
The Beehive, San Francisco

They serve this one as both a slushy (pictured above), and as a traditional cocktail…pick your poison.

Quimbara.jpg

1.5 oz Santa Teresa 1796
1 oz guava purree
.5 oz Aperol
.75 lime juice
.25 simple syrup
Garnish: lime wheel and umbrella

Method: Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into  rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, and tiny umbrella.

 

Lost Lady Painkiller
The Lost Lady, New York

Lost Lady Painkiller.jpeg

What’s better than one rum? Seven rums, that’s what. While seven rums isn’t necessary for making this one at home, feel free to use this as a great source of drinkspiration for your personal rum blend.

.25 oz Chairman's Reserve Rum
.25 oz Plantation O.F.T.D Overproof Rum
.25 oz Appleton Reserve Rum
.25 oz McCoy 5yr Rum
.5 oz Plantation 3 Stars Rum
.25 oz Plantation Pineapple Rum
.25 oz Hamilton 151 Rum
1.5 oz orange
2 oz pineapple
.25 oz cane syrup
Squeeze of coconut cream
Garnish: Pineapple leaf

Method: fill tiki glassware with crushed ice; mix all ingredients in a shaker; shake until chilled and pour into glass. Top with more crushed ice, and garnish with pineapple leaf.

Bright n' Sunny
Katana Kitten, New York

  Photo: Noah Fecks

Photo: Noah Fecks

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. White Rum Infused with Butterfly Pea Flower
Dash of Lime Juice
Topped with ginger beer

Method: Build in highball glass and garnish with lime and a pineapple slice.

Waiting for Chinola
Academia, Austin

Waiting for Chinola.jpg

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 Monin Pomegranate Syrup
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds

Method: 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.

Smoked Old Fashioned
Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar, Atlanta

Smoked Old Fashioned.jpg

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 bitter
2 dashes Orange bitter
Garnish: dehydrated orange wheel and maraschino cherry

Method: 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. 

Rummin’ with the Devil
Sycamore Den, San Diego

Rummin With The Devil.jpg

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
Garnish: Peychaud’s bitters, mint, Nutmeg, edible flowers

Method: 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.

Panda Cooler
The Nest at The Thompson, Seattle

Panda Cooler.JPG

The inclusion of the southeast-Asian, herbaceous pandan leaf and syrup makes for a uniquely fragrant and flavorful rum cocktail. 

1.5oz Bacardi Ocho Rum
.75oz Pandan Syrup
.5oz Lime Juice
2.5oz Roasted Coconut water (We used Foco brand)
Garnish: Pandan Leaf

Method: Build cocktail in a chilled tiki-style mug. Top with ice and garnish with about ¼ of a trimmed pandan leaf.

Ventura Highway
The Up & Up, New York

_Ventura Highway_9484.jpg

Anytime a cocktail has Plantation Pineapple Rum, you know it’s going to be a hit. This cocktail is no exception.

1.25 Plantation Pineapple Rum
.5 Ancho Reyes
.5 Suze
.5 Yuzu/Lemon juice
.25 Honey Syrup
1 dash saline

Method: 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.

Nica Negroni
The Hawthorne, Boston

Nica Negroni3.jpg

If you've never had a Negroni, having your first one with rum instead of gin isn't the worst thing ever. Beware though, it is quite bitter.

1 oz Flor de Caña 7
1 oz Gran Classico
1 oz vermouth blanc

Method: Stir and serve up with a lemon twist

 

Originally written for Maxim, adapted for Bon Vivantito
All photos are courtesy of the bars unless otherwise noted