Today is National Rum Day, so what better time to explore a spirit often fraught with varied associations, misperceptions, and confusion. And a spirit that – despite all those things – is clearly having a resurgence in the cocktail world.
To dig into the world of rum, I turned to cocktail genius Lukas Smith of Cotton & Reed (among other fun projects). I first met Lukas at Dram & Grain speakeasy many years ago and was excited to pick his brain about where fits rum fits into the culture of cocktails today.
Lukas rightly pointed out that most people have strong associations – sometimes positive and sometimes negative – with rum. Bacardi’s marketing machine created a “party, party” feel around their rum labels, Malibu made you feel like you were on a beach even if you were in a basement dive bar, and Captain Morgan…. well… who hasn’t had their fair share of college Captain & Cokes?
And while we may harbor those associations, we should not let that stop us from enjoying a spirit that is actually incredibly versatile. And, as Lukas noted, “almost every classic vodka drink can be improved by using rum.”
So where to start in the world of rum? A spectacular rum cocktail, according to Lukas (and I would agree), is the daiquiri, whose traditional formula is
2 oz white rum
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz lime juice
In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously, then strain into cocktail glass. Serve up.
I also agreed with Lukas when he said, “rum and lime is a match made in heaven,” and so who can deny that a classic mojito isn’t a shining example of how good a rum cocktail can be?
8-12 mint leaves
2 oz rum
3/4 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz club soda
Add the simple syrup and mint leaves to a shaker and muddle. Add rum and lime juice, then shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.
For those who lean toward more bitter cocktails, Lukas suggests:
The Italian Daiquiri
1 ½ oz white rum
½ oz Campari
½ oz simple syrup
¾ lemon juice
Combine, shake (or you can even use a blender), serve up.
And a Lukas-Smith-creation served at Cotton & Reed – appropriately named The Redbeard Cocktail (if you know Lukas that makes perfect sense!) is another delicious example of a rum-based cocktail.
1 oz white rum
¼ oz Campari
½ oz lemon juice
Straight build in a Collins glass, top with ginger beer.
If you are hosting an event and want to serve rum, consider frozen cocktail machines that feature rum-based frozen goodness. Lukas has created recipes for frozen cocktails that defy the notion that all frozen rum drinks are sweet. So worth trying! And pre-batched rum cocktails are delicious, as well. The added benefit of the machines and the pre-batching? No lines at the bar!
Now, if you will excuse me, I am off to make a daiquiri…