The Simple Fix To Make Strong Rum Cocktails Easier To Drink

Rum, with its storied history and a flavor profile that's just as rich, is a staple in many classic cocktails like the tropical Mai Tai and Tasting Table's own Cable Car cocktail. However, its bold character can be a bit overwhelming, especially for those new to rum. This can be a bit tricky if you have to make drinks for a crowd. Luckily, Tasting Table recipe developer Michelle McGlinn has a simple trick to make strong rum cocktails a bit easier on the palate: just add more sweeteners!

Whether it's simple syrup, honey, agave nectar, or fruit juices, most cocktails have a sweet component to balance out the bite of the liquor and other flavor components. It's an easy fix to add more of the sweetener to the drink than the recipe asks for if it's a bit too strong otherwise. In McGlinn's case, she likes to add an additional ½ ounce of simple syrup to dull the edge of the rum a little bit in her Cable Car or other strong rum drinks.

Extra tips to make rum cocktails more palatable

While you can replicate the sweetener trick with virtually every rum cocktail and its primary sweetener, the key is getting the proportion just right. If you add too much simple syrup, fruit juice, or agave nectar to your drink, the sugar can overpower the cocktail's delicate flavors. So, a bit of clever experimentation is needed — do some trial runs, gradually adding small increments (about ¼ ounce at a time) of extra sweetener until you hit the literal sweet spot.

If adding additional sweetener isn't your preferred trick, there are other ways to make your drink easier to swallow. The type of rum you choose can significantly impact your cocktail's taste and strength. For first-timers, dark and spiced rum might not be the best choice because they have very strong flavors. In contrast, white or light rum (which is the star of cocktails like daiquiris or mojitos) is lightly aged or not aged at all, giving it an exceptionally smooth profile. This makes it a particularly great choice if you're serving first-time drinkers.

Switching and mixing the ingredients isn't just the only way to get a mellower drink. When you've combined everything in a shaker, you can add a bit more ice than what the recipe calls for. Ice chills the cocktail and dilutes it slightly, making it more approachable for the uninitiated.