Anyone who has enjoyed a perfectly balanced Daiquiri or a traditional Piña Colada knows there’s nothing quite like a rum-based cocktail to chase away the day. Whether enjoyed in a cocktail or sipped on its own, rum sales are expected to grow by 8 percent annually in the next three years — and the leading market is right here in the U.S.
VinePair sought the expert opinions of beverage professionals across the U.S. on which bottles of rum are worth reaching for. Read on to find the perfect companion for your next drink, whether it’s in Kokomo or your kitchen.
As bars and restaurants continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic and reopening phases, VinePair asked the bartenders and drinks professionals below to provide a virtual tip jar or fund of their choice. More resources for helping hospitality professionals are available here.
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“Man oh man, do I love rum. I believe it is the most versatile spirit out there. It’s light, it’s dark, it’s sweet, it’s dry, it’s fruit flavored, it’s spiced, and it takes to oak very well so with age it can drink like a woody whiskey or fine brandy. So many amazing rums! [I recommend] Don Q Cristal, Probitas White Blended, Ron del Barrilito, Real McCoy 5 Year, [and] Plantation 3 Star.” — David A. Roth, Head Bartender, Covina, NYC
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“Don Q Añejo has a place in my well (and in my heart) because it’s an excellent aged rum — especially for cocktails — at an unbeatable price. It has way more complexity than anything in the same price category and is a great fit for any cocktails that call for an aged rum. This is also a great entry-level rum for someone interested in sipping a neat spirit.” — Laura Newman, Owner, Queen’s Park, Birmingham, Ala.
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“The best bang-for-your-buck rum is all sipping rums from the classic rum-producing regions of Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Martinique. These are beautifully made, delicious, dry spirits that can hold their own against any brandy or whiskey in the world, but because they’ve been so underrated by consumers for so long you can find top-shelf examples for under $40 (vs. well over $100 for equivalent Scotch or Cognac). A good all-around is the Appleton Estate Reserve, an oaky, coffee- and chocolate-scented Jamaican blended rum with notes of tropical fruits and orange peel, made by the Caribbean’s first female master blender, Dr. Joy Spence. You can find a bottle for about $24.” — Rafa García Febles, Beverage Manager, Le Crocodile, Brooklyn
“Flor de Cana 7 Year is the most versatile rum I’ve ever had under $20. It’s great on the rocks but inexpensive enough to put in a cocktail.” —Brandi Carter, Beverage Director, Elvie’s, Jackson, Miss.
“Banks 5 Island Rum is my go-to for making a cocktail, especially for a Daiquiri and Hemingway Daiquiri. It is a rum made for cocktails with a bit [of] funk and aromatics; a premium rum at a bargain price.” — Kenneth McCoy, Chief Creative Officer, The Rum House, NYC
“Plantation 3 Star is a delicious white rum that goes great in a Daiquiri or a Mojito — it’s just sweet enough.” — Ellen Talbot, Lead Bartender, Fable Lounge, Nashville, Tenn.
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“Hands down the Appleton Estate Signature Blend! It’s slightly aged and you can make any tiki drink with it.” — Fred Dex, Master Sommelier/Wine Entertainer/Founder, Taste Like a Master, Brooklyn
“I’ve just recently realized the beauty of an aged rum, which is surprising to me now as I was a whiskey lady, and the flavor profile can be quite similar. One of my favorites at a reasonable price that won’t break the bank is Brugal 1888. Double aged in oak casks, it has notes of toffee, vanilla, and coffee. Perfect for cocktails, or simply on the rocks.” — Michell Boyd, Beverage Manager, Hampton + Hudson, Atlanta
“The line of Plantation Rums from Pierre Ferrand offers great versatility in a wide range of flavors and styles. Plantation 3 Star is a great everyday rum at a great value. The versatility of the line extends throughout the Caribbean, offering a glimpse of many different styles and flavor profiles. They really have something for every occasion.” — Ashley Guertin, Beverage Director, Barbara Lynch Collective, Boston