Many people out there don’t often think of rum as a primary cocktail ingredient. That’s an unfortunate consequence of past American tastes. Americans, you see, have largely preferred vodka, which is defined as colorless, odorless and tasteless, and a lot of distilled spirits have followed suit. However, up-and-coming boutique rum brands are seeking to reintroduce “hogo,” a Creole-derived term rum aficionados use to describe what it is that makes rum great—a unique and underlying funky grassiness owing to its base product, sugar cane. And as a progressive mixologist and author of How to Booze: Exquisite Cocktails and Unsound Advice, I’m pretty excited about this trend.
The French believe wine takes on the properties of the region it comes from. I believe that this concept can be loosely applied to distilled spirits. Rum’s roots are largely in the Caribbean where sugar grows up next to pineapple, lime and coconuts.
The main thing to keep in mind when making rum cocktails is that rum is to be tasted and appreciated. When you make a rum cocktail, you want to taste the rum as well as the mixer, which we like to refer to as ‘modifiers.’
Now here is the catch: If you’ve only ever tipped wildly popular commercial rums, you may have never really had rum. Rum is more than just a vanilla-scented, or artificially flavored, mostly tasteless liquid. It should have a mixture of flavors connoting its origins and possibly employ barrel aging in some way. Fun fact: rum has fewer guidelines than any other spirit. You can’t buy Scotch made in Holland, because Scotch by definition comes from Scotland. Rum, on the other hand, can come from anywhere and contain just about anything, so long as it’s sugar cane based. This allows craft rum producers such as Denizen to come up with their own flavor profiles by blending rums and techniques from different islands like Trinidad and Jamaica.
The main thing to keep in mind when making rum cocktails, however, is that rum is to be tasted and appreciated. When you make a rum cocktail, you want to taste the rum as well as the mixer, which we like to refer to as ‘modifiers.’ These six rum cocktails allow you to do just that. Your friends and the ladies will love them, and I for one will salute you for putting all that funk to good use.
One of the quintessential—and most misunderstood—drinks for cocktail nerds. It’s a seamless blend of white rum, sugar and lime, and its beauty is its simplicity: all three ingredients can be found within a few yards from one another in the village of Daquiri, Cuba. Bet you didn’t know that.
2 oz rum
¾ oz fresh squeezed lime juice
½ to ¾ oz simple syrup or granulated sugar to taste
Place all ingredients into a shaker.
Add ice and shake well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a wedge or wheel of lime.
Invented by the Godfather of Tiki, “Trader Vic” Bergeron in 1994, this simple sour variation employs a hard to find ingredient in orgeat (almond & sugar) syrup. Look at specialty foods stores and keep this stuff refrigerated. Always use fresh limes and a decent curaçao orange liqueur like Grand Marnier.
1 oz Jamaican Rum
1 oz Martinique Rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz orange curaçao
¼ oz sugar syrup
¼ oz orgeat syrup
Shake well with plenty of crushed ice and pour unstrained into a double Old Fashioned glass.
Sink your spent lime shell and garnish with a mint sprig.