We Asked 10 Bartenders: What’s the Best Rum Cocktail?

There is never a bad time to drink rum, but the quintessential Caribbean spirit (or is it Indian?) seems especially appropriate for summer months. Bartenders agree. That’s why we asked 10 drinks professionals to tell us their favorite rum cocktails. From classic Daiquiris to a creation described as “Mojito’s bolder sister,” here are their picks.

“I really enjoy a Painkiller. Having the good fortune and perhaps good sense to spend over 12 years living in the Virgin Islands, I was a frequent at the Soggy Dollar Bar (where the Painkiller was created) on Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands… There is something special about being there and tasting the delicious pineapple-orange, coconutty rum goodness with fresh grated nutmeg out of a little plastic collector’s cup. Feet in the sand, crystal blue water — it doesn’t get much better than that.” — Allen Lancaster, Master Cocktail Craftsman, The Bar at The Spectator Hotel, Charleston, S.C.

“A current favorite rum drink of mine is OBC Kitchen’s ‘Hop on Pop’ cocktail. It uses a blend of three different rums, lemon juice, Demerara simple syrup, homemade grenadine, and an egg white for the perfect mouth feel.”  — Justin Keating, Beverage Director, Bluegrass Hospitality Group, Lexington, Ky.

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“My favorite rum drink is the Miami Mojito. It’s very refreshing.” — Jeanette Wallgren, Beverage Manager, AC Hotel Miami Aventura, Miami, Fla.

“My favorite rum drink is the Hemingway Daiquiri. It is a wonderful variation on the classic and yet a classic in its own right. The swap of the simple syrup for the Maraschino Liqueur gives the drink a magnificent finish and allows for a more boozy expression than the classic. Also, I love the history behind the cocktail and envisioning myself as part of the ‘Lost Generation’ drinking a Daiquiri in pre-embargo Cuba.” — Kellen Hamrah, General Manager/Bartender, Piattello Italian Kitchen, Fort Worth, Tex.

“My favorite rum cocktail is a rum Old Fashioned… It’s a cocktail with deep complexity and a lasting finish.” — Jeremy Williams, Lead Mixologist, Lumber Baron Bar, Grand Rapids, Mich.

“I personally love a good flip, and the Jane Goodall is just that. I took Appleton 12 year and Yaguara Azul Cachaca and infused them both with pandan leaves. I thought that pandan and Pedro Ximenez would play really well together. It is our staff favorite at Nomo Kitchen.” — Megan Lazar, Head Bartender, NoMo SoHo, New York City

“El Presidente. A really well-executed, stirred rum drink can be difficult to find, but when it’s done right, it’s amazing.” — Ben Potts, Bar Manager, Beaker & Gray’s, Miami, Fla.

“The first drink I had was a Daiquiri and to this day, it remains my favorite.  I love the refreshing notes of this cocktail, which I consider to be the perfect combination of romance between rum, sugar, and lime.”— Juan Coronado, Beverage Consultant, Bresca, Washington, D.C.

“One of my favorite rum cocktail is the Navy Grog.  Although it is lumped into the tiki category, it’s a variation of the Hemingway Daiquiri, subbing out the Maraschino liqueur for honey syrup and adding three different rums.  It’s a boozy cocktail that’s bright and rounded in flavor. It’s not too tart, and it’s refreshing. There are other variations of this cocktail adding mint, which is a nice touch and in a way makes it like Mojito’s bolder sister.” — Juyoung Kang, Lead Bartender, The Dorsey at The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nev.

“Probably a Hotel Nacional. I’m a sucker for apricot liqueur, and this was the drink that started that for me. It’s light, fluffy from the pineapple, and when made with a truly great apricot liqueur (lookin’ at you, Giffard) has this incredible stone fruit backbone that just takes me away from wherever I am.”—Patrick Halloran, Bar Manager, Henrietta Red, Nashville, Tenn.