In the world of cocktails, rum never gets the credit it deserves. Whiskey always seems to take the top slot in the aged spirits mixed drink power rankings, pushing dark rum to the background. And bartenders are all about the gin these days, obscuring white rum.
But it’s still summer for a few more weeks, so the time is right to embrace this sugar cane juice (or molasses)-based spirit. Not only because warm weather pairs perfectly with fruity, delicious, Tiki-style cocktails, but today because today is National Rum Day. To celebrate, we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to rums for mixing into classic sippers like mojitos, mai tais, and daiquiris.
Put down your whiskeys, tequilas, and gins, friends. Today belongs to rum.
The Real McCoy 3 Year
Evan Danielson, beverage director at City Winery in Nashville
My favorite rum for mixing is The Real McCoy 3 year. It’s great for cocktails and is a very pure expression on its own.
Havana Club 7-Year
Douglas da Cruz Jr, bar manager at Nico Osteria in Chicago
I would like to divide this answer into old and new school rums. My old school rum selection goes to Havana Club 7-Year. It is classic, elegant, full of flavor, rich and sophisticated. This rum is served well neat, over ice or mixed into cocktails. You can’t forget a nice cigar either!
My new school rum selection goes to Paranubes. This unique rum is somewhat new. Its recipe has been hidden for decades in the forest of the Sierra Mazateca Mountains of Oaxaca. Oxaca is known for its mezcals which, for me, makes Paranubes a unique, younger rum.
Ilan Chartor, spiritual advisor at KYU in Miami
My favorite rum to mix with is Plantation O.F.T.D.. I always defer to pot still Jamaican rums for their semi smoky, charred tropical fruit, and intense funky flavors. This one is super versatile also, great for stirred and shaken cocktails, or just on the rocks.
Paranubes Oaxacan Rum
Alex Gregg, bar manager at Curadero in San Diego
My favorite rum to mix with is Paranubes Oaxacan Rum. It is produced much like French Rhum Agricole- from fresh-pressed Oaxacan sugar cane juice (instead of molasses, which is the base for 99% of rums). The fresh cane gives it wonderfully grassy and vegetal notes backed up by a touch of Ojo, or funk (this is a good thing and highly sought after for rum connoisseurs). It works beautifully in all manner of citrus-forward rum cocktails.
At Curadero, we feature the Mazateca Daiquiri, featuring Paranubes, fresh lime, agave nectar and fresh pineapple juice. It is so simple, yet incredibly complex.
The Real McCoy Rum 12 Year
Stephen George, beverage manager at 20|Twenty Grill in Carlsbad, California
Right now I’m really enjoying The Real McCoy line of rum out of Barbados. The best is the 12 year. But, they all over-deliver in quality and character. The 3yr rum mixes well in traditional “tiki” cocktails, adding some extra depth with some “aged” rum character. The 5yr rum also does well in “tiki” cocktails, but also like to sub it in for whiskey in some “prohibition era” cocktails.
Flor De Cana 7 Year Old Gran Reserve
Darren Fabian, national beverage manager for Moxie’s Grill & Bar
My favorite rum to mix with is Flor De Cana 7 Year Old Gran Reserve. The slow age gives it enough viscosity that it doesn’t taste ‘hot.’ It’s very easy to balance.
Hamilton Jamaican Black Pot Still
Chris Burmeister, bartender at Citizen Rail in Denver
Hamilton’s Jamaican Black Pot Still. It’s rich, round, has that Jamaican dunder pit kind of funkiness. It’s versatile in both shaken and stirred cocktails and makes a kick-ass Trader Vic’s Mai Tai without having to use a split base of Jamaican rum and Martinique Rhum.
Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy Rum
Sean Stangle, Bartender at Estiatorio Milos in Las Vegas
Plantation Pineapple Stiggins’ Fancy Rum is my new jam. This stuff is amazing in a glass by itself, let alone mixed for a Daiquiri Spin. Pineapple rinds are infused with their Plantation 3 Stars Rum for one week, then pot distilled. The fruit is separately steeped in Plantation Original Dark Rum for three months. The two liquids are blended and the resulting Pineapple Rum is rested in casks for three months before bottling.
Writer’s Pick: Mount Gay Eclipse
Barbados’ Mount Gay Rum is the oldest rum distillery in the world. It was opened in 1703 and has been cranking out award-winning rum ever since. One of its newer offerings, Eclipse is aged in American oak barrels. The result is a well-balanced, rich rum with hints of vanilla and tropical fruits that’s just as at home in your glass with a single ice cube as it is mixed into your favorite cocktails.