When it comes to classics, rum is more than just for tropical cocktails. Let us help you discover a new favourite in celebration of International Rum Day.
Rum has a lot of history behind it. Originating around 1650, rum played a big part in the slave trade, as slaves were brought to West Indies in exchange for molasses. Molasses are a key ingredient in the production of rum, so they are processed in New England, where the product was then traded for more slaves.
As rum develops and is consumed across the world, more variety is introduced. The heavy and dark rums are the oldest, then lighter-bodied variants began production in the 19th century mainly in Puerto Rico and The Virgin Islands. We also see the emergence of strong-flavoured New England rum, the arak produced on Java Island, Indonesia, the list goes on.
Neat, on the rocks, or enjoyed in one of these amazing rum-based cocktails to honour history, here are the best rum cocktails to celebrate International Rum Day.
Classic rum cocktails to celebrate International Rum Day
Mary Pickford is created for a Canadian-American actress of the same name at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This Prohibition-era cocktail is made from white rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and maraschino liqueur. It’s sweet and sour with a hint of tropical—the sweetness from the pineapple plays really well with white rum, with the complexity enhanced by grenadine.
Song Terbsiri at Stella Bangkok does a very well-balanced Mary Pickford, and seeing how their menu is all about empowering female icons of the bar industry, be sure to check out some of their rum-based signatures, too.
When it comes to a tropical cocktail, the Bahama Mama is severely underrated. The holy trinity of tiki drinks — rum, coconut, and pineapple — is not too sweet here, with fruit juices balancing the overall sweetness. The midcentury classic recipe requires coffee liqueur, which balances out the fruitiness and adds depth.
This classic rum cocktail hails from 1900s Cuba, with the drink being introduced to the US after the Prohibition era. There’s a lot of variation using gold rum or dark rum, but the original recipe calls for more body with a rich white rum paired with a blanc or even dry vermouth. You can also dial down the orange a bit if you want to taste the rum more—this drink is highly customisable and perfect for those who enjoy a good spirit forward.
If you’re looking to try one, we highly recommend Vesper. Resident bartender Golf Jakkrit is very knowledgeable when it comes to rum, so you can even try a few El Presidentes and compare each one.
If you ask about what the most twistable classic cocktail is, many would agree on the Negroni. In order to create the Kingston Negroni, you substitute the botanic quality of gin for the stronger-bodied Jamaican rum. New York City bar Pouring Ribbons did this in 2010 with a bottle of Smith & Cross in hand, resulting in powerful notes from each ingredient that surprisingly gel well together.
Mere moments after the end of the Spanish-American War, an army captain went to celebrate victory at a local bar, adding Coca-Cola and lime juice to his Bacardi rum, raising a toast “Por Cuba Libre,” which translates to “To a free Cuba.” That name, and fortunately also the drink, stay with us till today. Don’t underestimate the simplicity of a Cuba Libre. The lime juice added cuts the sweetness of the cola while complimenting the notes of a rum well.
While it’s true that you can get a good Cuba Libre practically anywhere, Kilik Social Club does a very cool, clarified variation with their own housemade cola with additional herbs, resulting in a completely clear, and very delicious Cuba Libre.
The Manhattan is a forever-iconic classic made from rye whisky, sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, and garnished with a couple of maraschino cherries. This variation calls for dark rum instead of rye whisky, resulting in a slightly sweeter taste and toning down the smokiness. If that sounds interesting, it is, as this simple substitution really makes a difference overall.
Simple classics are honestly one of the hardest ones to balance. We would like to recommend the guys, shout outs to Frank, Mai, and Mick, at Silom’s Rogue Affair who do a very smooth and pleasant Rum Manhattan.
The exact history of the Hemingway Daiquiri is hard to tell, but it is named after Ernest Hemingway as he stopped by the El Floridita bar in Havana in need of a bathroom. As he got out, he stopped by the bar, tried the Daiquiri, and said that he preferred one with no sugar and doubled the rum. That’s when the Hemingway Daiquiri was born. It never really caught on because of its very tart nature, but maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice are added at one point for compensation. That’s the version you’ll more likely find because we don’t think anyone would do the original recipe.
If you’re in the mood for a good Daiquiri, Havana Social does an amazing array of these rum cocktails, with variations including the Hemingway. They also run specials regularly, so keep an eye out.
The Piña Colada has been a staple at pool parties and beach-side bars since the 1950s. It’s the face of tiki cocktails but has a bad rap as it took a dive in quality since the 1970s, with the rise of speed bars cranking out Piñas with cheap, bottled mixers.
However, the classic rum cocktail has been seeing a resurgence in recent years in craft cocktail bars that highlight the importance of quality ingredients and a good balance, opting out blenders for shakers. These new Piña Coladas have a hit of rum with well-balanced fruity notes, shaken, and served over ice—forget the over-diluted, blended ones you got in Samui.
Tropic City first started because one of the owners loves Piña Coladas, so if you’re looking for a good one, there’s nowhere better to start than there.
This story first appeared here.
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