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The Best Rums for Flavorful Rum Cocktails

If you’re a fan of cocktails, there’s no shortage of recipes to try. Rum is a great base to work with, whether you’re a long-time fan or are just getting started exploring this historical spirit dating back to 1650. Whatever your taste, it’s easy to sign up for our Rum Club to try a variety of rum types and discover your favorites. For now, check out our roundup of the best rums for cocktails.

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Best Dark Rum: Ron Colón Salvadoreño

Made from a unique blend of Salvadorian column-distilled rum and both aged and unaged Jamaican pot-distilled rums, Ron Colón Salvadoreño rum is complex and contrasting in flavor.

Tasting notes

This flavorful rum gives complex notes of flamed orange peel, macadamia nuts, milk chocolate, fried dough and earthy spices.

Why we recommend it

You’ll love this full-bodied rum with its tropical fruit vibrancy and high-ester funkiness. If you’re sipping it, be sure to add a few drops of water as it comes in at a punchy 55.5% ABV. But we really love it in a cocktail like the Dark and Stormy, below.

Dark rum cocktail: Dark and Stormy

In a highball glass filled with ice, add a ½-cup of ginger beer. Pour in 2 ounces of dark rum, squeeze a lime wedge over top and gently stir. Enjoy!

Best Spiced Rum: Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum

best rums for cocktails

Made with the best combination of Caribbean rums, the 92 proof Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum is a great base for the brand’s natural spice blend. This rum was made to honor Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, a truly independent spirit and the father of the old school tattoo.

Tasting notes

This rum’s all-natural spices and flavors give it a smooth, rich taste, and versatile, distinct character. On the nose, the heaviest notes include vanilla, buttery toffee and cinnamon. You’ll taste rich vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon with a long, dry finish of slight sweetness and toasted toffee.

Why we recommend it

This timeless, bold and smooth rum is crafted with quality and a unique blend of natural spices, perfect as the base for many tasty cocktails.

Spiced rum cocktail: Spiced Mojito

In a small saucepan, add 1 cup of pineapple juice and a few thumb-sized slices of ginger. Boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until half the liquid remains. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then discard the ginger.

To caramelize the pineapple:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan until it foams.
  • Lightly dip 2 slices of fresh or canned pineapple into 2 tablespoons of soft brown sugar, then add to the frying pan.
  • Fry for about 3-4 minutes, turning once until both pineapple sides are golden and caramelized. Set aside.

Get 2 glasses and to each, add 6 mint leaves, the juice from ¼-lime and a ½-lime slice. Pour the reduced pineapple-ginger juice in and muddle with a spoon. Add crushed ice to fill glasses ⅔-full, then pour in 3.5 ounces of spiced rum. Fill with club soda and mix, adding more ice to fill if needed. Garnish with a mint sprig and slice of caramelized pineapple.

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Best Barrel-Aged Rum: Ron Zacapa Solera Gran Reserva 23 Year Rum

barrel aged rum

The 80 proof, award-winning Ron Zacapa No. 23 Rum is incredibly complex and full-bodied. Distilled from virgin sugar cane honey and aged with an adapted, state-of-the-art Sistema Solera process, this spirit is crafted at the utmost quality. 

Tasting notes

You’ll love the intricate, complex notes of sweet honey and vanilla flavors that create a nice astringent finish to this rum. The spirit balances off well with spicy cinnamon and ginger.

Why we recommend it

One of the top-trending rum brands at the 2020 Drinks International awards, Ron Zacapa No. 23 Rum is elegantly smooth with robust and complex flavors. You might find this one’s best enjoyed on its own over ice but if you’re vying for a cocktail, you really can’t go wrong with an Old Cuban — see below.

Barrel-aged rum cocktail: Old Cuban

In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake 6 mint leaves, 1.5 ounces aged rum, 0.75 ounces lime juice, 0.5 ounces simple syrup and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and top with champagne.

Best Smoked Rum: Dark Door Spirits Smoked Rum

Fancy something a little different? Dark Door Spirits Smoked Rum is so unique you’ll be telling all your friends about it. The Tampa, FL distillery is known for its out-of-the-box, non-traditional approach to spirits that are still accessible to most everyone.

Tasting notes

You’ll enjoy chai tea aromas with ginger, toasted caramel and smoky tobacco flavors, along with a hint of cherry and sweet molasses.

Why we recommend it

Dark Door is meticulous about blending every bottle of their distinctly balanced, hand-smoked rum that stands out from the rest. 

Smoked rum cocktail: Smoky Rum Runner

To an ice-filled cocktail shaker, add 2 ounces smoked rum, 1-ounce banana liqueur, ½-ounce blackberry liqueur or blackberry brandy, 1-ounce pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine. Shake well and strain into a glass with fresh ice. Garnish with your choice of fruit.

Best Gold Rum: Bacardi 10 Years Old Gran Reserva Diez Extra Rare Gold Rum

rum cocktails

On February 4, 1862, the Bacardi family, led by Don Facundo, purchased a distillery in Santiago de Cuba. Now operating out of Puerto Rico as the world’s largest family-owned spirits company, they went their own way and revolutionized rum with unique blends. This includes the Gran Reserva Diez Extra Rare Gold Rum.

Tasting notes

On the nose, you’ll get a slightly spicy aroma from dusty oak along with vanilla, dry spice including cinnamon and nutmeg, tobacco, marzipan and bitter walnut. Let the spirit linger a bit more and notice coconut, banana, marmalade and must. Once you taste this medium-bodied spirit, you’ll get notes of:

  • butterscotch,
  • treacle,
  • almond,
  • vanilla,
  • dried fruit,
  • sweet pear,
  • coconut, and
  • banana, along with
  • baking spice, must, oak and a light smokiness.

Why we recommend it

You can’t go wrong with this expertly blended gold rum, which is barrel-aged for at least 10 years under the hot Caribbean sun, then filtered through charcoal to give it a smooth, incredibly balanced, medium-length finish.

Gold rum cocktail: Old Fashioned

Add 2 parts gold rum, 3 dashes of aromatic bitters and ¼-part simple syrup to an Old Fashioned or highball glass along with a large ice cube. Stir to melt the ice a bit, then add more and garnish with a twist of lemon or cherry.

Now that you have a taste of some delicious rum cocktails to try, see what you like best and remember, the sky’s the limit. Whatever your taste may be, it’s incredibly simple and convenient to join our Rum Club and effortlessly try a new rum each month to find your new faves.

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