Shake up your drinking game with these cocktail recipes featuring rum

Pick the most refreshing and quirky cocktail on a bar menu, and there’s a good chance to find rum in the ingredients list. We’re exploring a few classic recipes that let the toasty, sweet flavor of the spirit shine.

From being the star of Tiki drinks (Pina Colada, anyone?) To adding a certain pizazz to spirit-forward summer concoctions, rum’s versatility is unmissable.

Popular base alcohol, rum is distilled from cane sugar or molasses, which gives it an indulgent, sweet underlying flavor. Depending on the way it’s aged and the region, the flavors could further range from subtle to earthy, with variations in styles ranging from light to spiced. Each works well for a specific set of classic bar cocktails. And while the spirit features in several concoctions, a chosen few deliciously stand out. We round up a list of a few such rum cocktail recipes that are sure to be a hit at the next party or get-together you host.

Transform a bottle of rum into exciting cocktails with these recipes

Pina Colada

If you like Pina Coladas, this recipe is all you’ll ever need. The cocktail was created in the 1950s when a bartender at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico put together coconut cream, rum, and pineapple to represent sunny sands and tropical vibes. His colleague Ricardo Garcia then added strained pineapple juice to it and gave it a name. Creamy, fruity, and refreshing this cocktail is a crowd-pleaser. That said, having the right balance of ingredients is key to keeping it from turning into a sugary mess. Don’t forget to load up on some good quality ice for this one.

Rum Swizzle

Often referred to as Bermuda’s national drink, this cocktail was created in the 1900s at The Swizzle Inn. At the time, limited ingredients from the island were put together and stirred with a stick cut from the indigenous swizzle tree, giving the concoction its name. This recipe calls for good quality rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, lemon juice, falernum, and angostura bitters.

If you can’t find the liqueur, you could make your own by infusing lime peel, orange peel, sweet lime peel, ginger, caster sugar, and white and dark rum in a mason jar for three months. And while there are several variations of the drink, there’s no denying that the way you bring the drink together and the ingredients you use will make all the difference.

Mai Tai

This blend of rum, curacao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice is one of the most popular Tiki creations. The cocktail was created by Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron in the 1940s to spotlight the flavors of rum. Like Pina Colada, the balance of ingredients is key to keeping the drink from being too sweet. That aside, the cocktail is easy to make. To stay authentic to the original recipe, you’d need amber rum and dark Jamaican rum. Don’t forget to garnish with fresh lime and mint for an added flourish.

Daiquiri

A classic cocktail that has several different variations, daiquiri has featured in several movies, from Godfather II to Our Man In Havana. The ingredients include rum, citrus juice, and sugar, and the blend was first put together in 1898 in the mining town of Daiquiri in Cuba. Other anecdotes state that an American mining engineer stationed in Cuba put the drink together to protect his workers from Yellow Fever. Regardless of the origin, the blend is now popular across bars in the world. And the bright, tart flavor makes it the perfect summer refreshment. Garnish with a lime wheel and good quality ice.

The Junglebird

A popular drink in Malaysia, this cocktail is a delicious blend of dark rum, Campari, lime, and sweet pineapple. It was reportedly created in 1978 in Aviary Bar (Kuala Lumpur Hilton). A classic Tiki cocktail that works just as well in the winter, there’s a distinct bitter and dark flavor to this concoction that makes it so popular amongst cocktail enthusiasts. Garnish with pineapple fronds for an added flourish.

Hurricane

This blend of rum, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup (or puree), and orange serves as a one-way ticket to the French Quarter in New Orleans, where it was first invented in the 1940s. The drink is traditionally served in a curvy eponymous glass. There’s a host of varieties available across bars, from frozen to indulgent and sweet. However, the classic is hard to beat. This particular recipe is an ode to the original and involves making fassionola, a red colored fruit flavored syrup. While this might seem like work, the payoff is worth it. Don’t forget to garnish with pineapple.

Cable Car

Popular mixologist Tony Abou Ganim created this cocktail in the 1990s to pay homage to San Francisco’s cable cars which passed by his lounge and bar Starlight Room. The classic recipe calls for spiced rum, orange curacao, lemon juice, simple syrup, and cinnamon sugar and is an adaptation of the brandy-forward Sidecar. The cinnamon sugar rim and orange twist in this particular recipe help balance the tart flavor of the drink.

Mojito

Perhaps one of the most recognizable cocktails around the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find a bar that doesn’t offer mojitos. The concoction has its origins in the 18th and 19th centuries when Cuba was leading the production of rum and sugarcane – two key ingredients for a mojito. The recipe calls for potent rum, seltzer, sugarcane, mint, and lime juice and is a refreshing, fun summer drink. Be sure to muddle the mint before adding it in since that lends a certain oomph to the tart and sweet flavors of this cocktail.

Bahama Mama

A cocktail that’s as fun as its name, Bahama Mama is a classic tropical cocktail. While the drink is unquestionable, as the name suggests, from the Bahamas, its origin story is shrouded in mystery. Some reports, however, suggest that a bartender named the drink after Dottie Lee Anderson, a calypso singer and dancer in the 1930s.

The drink has now become the poster child for beachside concoctions and recipes call for rum, coconut rum, grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice, and crushed ice. Several others also include coffee liqueur to balance out the flavors of the drink. Regardless of the version you go with, be sure to serve your drink in a hurricane glass for that authentic touch.

Jamaican Rum Punch

If you’ve got a party planned this summer, this Jamaican rum punch is guaranteed to be a showstopper. Reportedly, the drink was created by British sailors who worked for the British East India Company and blended Indian arrack with other commonly-found ingredients like lemon juice.

By the 1600s, this blend got quite popular and the modern-day recipe was born when Jamaican rum was used in place of the arrack. A typical recipe includes rum, grenadine, pineapple juice, fresh lime, and orange juice, making the resulting beverage a fruity delight. Store this Caribbean delight for up to 12 hours in the fridge before a party and be sure to garnish it right before the celebrations begin.

Featured image: Courtesy Melissa Walker Horn / Unsplash; Hero image: Courtesy Shutterstock

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