20 Cocktails To Try If You Like Drinking Rum

Bourbon is often thought of as the great American spirit. However, it can't claim to have had a hand in fueling the American drive for independence. That honor is reserved for rum, a spirit made by distilling sugarcane and sugarcane products such as molasses (via West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers' Association). Long before the Boston Tea Party of 1773, New England colonists were already protesting their parent country's imposition of taxes and other regulations on molasses in an effort to protect their favored spirit (via George Washington's Mount Vernon). 

Although rum took a backseat to whiskey in the aftermath of the American Revolution (via Crafty Cask), it came back into vogue briefly during the first half of the 20th century with the advent of tropical-themed tiki bars and their colorful, tropical-fruit-flavored Caribbean rum cocktails before fading from popularity once again. But rum is in the midst of a renaissance, according to multiple sources, including YouGov, which ranked Bacardi rum as the most popular spirit in America in quarter four of 2021, and Beverage Dynamics, which identified rum's "escapist" vibe as a major factor that drove the rum industry to record growth amid the pandemic.

In addition to being a tropical "vacation in a bottle," rum offers myriad choices in terms of sweetness, depth, and ABV (via VinePair). Whether you already like drinking rum or are merely rum-curious, these 20 classic cocktails deliciously demonstrate just how extensive this sun-soaked spirit's range is.

Daiquiri

The daiquiri is often referred to as the "most classic rum cocktail of all time," according to husband and wife mobile bartending team Sam Greene and Stacy Greene of Twist & Bitters. Yet, the earliest written daiquiri recipe doesn't go back all that far. According to Diffords Guide, the daiquiri was invented by Jennings Stockton Cox, an American engineer working in Daiquiri, Cuba in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. 

However, a glance at Cox's handwritten notes, courtesy of the University of Miami archives, suggests that Cox used lemons and sugar (as opposed to simple syrup, which is sugar dissolved in water). Moreover, it would appear that by the time Cox arrived in Cuba, Cubans were already quite fond of a cocktail known as the canchánchara, which is made with rum, lime juice, and honey syrup. Known as the oldest cocktail in Cuba, according to Liquor.com, the canchánchara can be traced back at least to the Ten Years War, which took place in Cuba between 1868 and 1878 (via PBS). However old the modern day daiquiri actually may be, it's "refreshing and absolutely sublime," the Greenes tell Tasting Table.

To make a classic daiquiri, veteran bartender Dan Whiteside offers the following recipe featuring the classic daiquiri proportions: Shake rum, lime juice, and simple syrup together with ice. Strain into coupe glasses, and garnish with a lime wheel. Or you can try our more novel pineapple-y variation.

Piña Colada

The piña colada combines white rum with the flavors of coconut and pineapple, although the ingredients you select to represent those fruity flavors can make all the difference in the world in the way this cocktail is perceived, according to Whiteside. Puerto Rico's national cocktail, according to Discover Puerto Rico, the piña colada was invented in San Juan sometime in the middle of the 20th century as a rather elegant mixture of white rum with coconut cream and a splash of pineapple juice, shaken over ice. Over time, however, it has become increasingly synonymous with hen nights and all-inclusive tropical resorts, according to Whiteside, who tells Tasting Table he sees that as unfortunate. When "properly made," the piña colada has little in common with the slushy sweet extrusion that issues from most frozen drink machines. 

By "properly made," Whiteside is referring to a cocktail made with real coconut cream (easy to find at supermarkets), fresh pineapple chunks along with your pineapple juice, and a splash of lime juice — to cut the sweetness. In fact, Whiteside offered us his recipe for a properly made piña colada, which goes like this: Blend together rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, lime juice, pineapple chunks, and ice for 8-10 seconds. Pour into a hurricane or wine glass with ice. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and two pineapple leaves.

Mai Tai

The Mai Tai has been giving the daiquiri a rum-run for its money since Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron invented the drink in 1944, according to Trader Vic's' website. Apparently wishing to extend hospitality to a friend of his who was visiting from Tahiti, Bergeron "pulled down a bottle of 17 year old Jamaican Rum, added a squeeze of lime, a dash of rock candy syrup, a splash of orange curacao, some French Orgeat [an almond-flavored liqueur], and poured the concoction over cracked ice." 

The friend drank it right up, exclaiming, "Mai Tai!", which means, in Tahitian, something along the lines of "out of this world." That, of course, explains how Bergeron's then-new cocktail got it's name. Although the 17-year rum that Bergeron used has since become unavailable, and notwithstanding of the many fruit-juice-laden imitations that may have sullied the Mai Tai's reputation over the years (via Liquor.com), a classic Mai Tai is still seen as a showcase for premium rums, especially blends of dark and light rums. 

To make yourself a classic Mai Tai, grab yourself a shaker and some ice, and shake together white rum, orange curaçao, freshly-squeezed lime juice, and orgeat. Then pour into a double rocks glass, pour dark rum over the top, and garnish with lime or mint. Or try our Original Mai Tai recipe, courtesy of Lu Brow, Swizzle Stick, New Orleans.

Zombie

Although Victor "Trader Vic" Bergeron gets most of the credit for creating the Mai Tai cocktail, it is believed by some that a man by the name of Raymond Beaumont Gantt was actually the OG of "tiki drink" culture. Tiki drinks, which include the Mai Tai, are drinks made with rum, tropical fruit juices, and fresh fruit garnishes (via MasterClass). Starting in 1934, shortly after the end of Prohibition, Gantt was the original proprietor of Huntington Beach's Don's Beachcomber, which specialized in the fruity tropical rum-based cocktails that got the whole Tiki trend started, according to Liquor.com

According to Crescent Gaming and Bartending School, when Gantt, who ended up legally changing his name to "Donn Beach," came up with the zombie cocktail, it was intended as a hangover cure for one particular customer. However, as the story goes, the customer returned several days later to complain that the drink, which was basically "booze on booze on top of more booze" along with a dash of grenadine and an even smaller dash of bitters, didn't cure his hangover so much as turn him into a "zombie."

Our recipe for the super-potent multi-rum Zombie cocktail packs a boozy punch with four (FOUR!) different rums, along with the flavors of citrus, cinnamon, and cloves. With four rums at its essence, it's too many ingredients to list here, but suffice it to say, it's the Beachcomber Classic. 

Blue Hawaii

The Blue Hawaii, a sweet and fruity cocktail combining white rum, vodka, blue curacao, pineapple juice, and sour mix, is aptly named. Its blue hue comes from blue curacao, a citrusy liqueur that gets its azure color and orange flavor from the Caribbean fruit, the Laraha (via Liquor.com). The "Hawaii" in the name refers to where this rum cocktail was created in 1957, the brainchild of a bartender for the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort, formerly known as Honolulu's Kaiser Hawaiian Village, at the request of a liquor distributor trying to drum up interest in blue curacao. 

Served shaken or blended with ice, the Blue Hawaii is traditionally topped with a slice of fresh pineapple and a maraschino cherry, skewered on one of those little brightly-colored paper umbrellas. To make your own Blue Hawaii, you'll need to combine vodka, light rum, and blue curaçao, with pineapple juice and sweet and  sour mix. (Or blend all ingredients in a blender, if you want the frozen variety.) Strain into a hurricane glass with ice (or pour the blended version straight up), and garnish with pineapple.

Rum Punch

Before the dawn of tiki culture, the first European settlers in the New World had their own ways of enjoying rum, one of which was with punch (via Smithsonian Magazine). Punch, which traditionally consists of five elements (spirit, spice, citrus, sugar, and water, per Liquor.com) and may get its name from the Hindu word for five ("pancha"), isn't necessarily limited to five ingredients (via Difford's Guide). In fact, this recipe for "gator bite rum punch" has six. 

Moreover, the rum punch recipe we have in mind for you, which we like to imagine George and Martha enjoyed fireside at Mount Vernon, has 12. To make this recipe, via George Washington's Mount Vernon, start by boiling water and mashing together a segmented orange, quartered lemons, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. To this mash, add simple syrup, lemon juice, and orange juice. Then add the boiling water. Allow to "steep" and then cool. Once cooled, add white rum, dark rum, and orange curacao. Strain into a pitcher or punchbowl and enjoy in icy goblets! 

Hot Buttered Rum

Another way that the early American colonists enjoyed rum was in the form of grog (via The Old North Church & Historic Site), which is basically rum, cut with hot water and sweetened with lemon and sugar (which makes it sound kind of like hot cross between classic Cox-endorsed daiquiri and a canchánchara). Although grog was popularized by seamen involved in the rum trade, it also became popular on dry land in the New World, although ultimately, it became synonymous with pirates and other seafaring "scofflaws."

Nevertheless, the essence of grog has been immortalized in the rum drink known as a "rum hot toddy," which is basically grog made with honey, rather than sugar (via Cooking Channel). A fancier, more decadent version is hot buttered rum, which skips the lemon in favor of spice includes actual butter. Our hot buttered rum recipe starts by whipping together the buttery base of the drink using butter, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and ground cloves. Divide that into single servings and place each serving into a mug or heat-safe glass. To each glass, add boiling water, rum, and Cruzan Black Strap rum. Garnish with lemon, or feel free to top with whipped cream, as shown. 

Bahama Mama

The Bahama Mama might look like your average technicolor tiki drink, but it has a low-key sophistication that only those who know — know. If you didn't know already what distinguishes the Bahama Mama from those other fun, fruity frivolities that whiskey-shooters like Carrie Underwood tend to deride, it's coffee flavor, or, more precisely, coffee-flavored liqueur. The classic Bahama Mama, which is believed to have originated at the Bahamas' Nassau Beach Hotel, has always included coffee liqueur (via Liquor.com). However, it sometimes ends up getting omitted in the present day. We say, if you're going to go to the trouble of steeling yourself against the mockery that ordering a Bahama Mama might well engender, then you might as well confirm with the bartender that they have coffee liqueur on hand.

Or, you could just avoid the whole issue by whipping up a Bahama Mama of your own. It's easy. Just combine coconut rum and dark (preferably overproof) rum, coffee liqueur, pineapple juice, freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Shake together with ice, and strain into a Collins glass or hurricane glass over fresh ice. The classic garnish for a Painkiller, in true deceptively sweet Painkiller style, involves something fruity such as a pineapple wedge and/or a maraschino or brandied cherry. But you should always feel free to mix it up with an herbaceous sprig of rosemary. 

Hurricane

Some people believe that the hurricane, a rum cocktail combining golden rum (an amber rum that's been aged only briefly, per Illinois Liquor Marts) with the flavors of passion fruit and lemon, and garnished with an orange slice and maraschino cherry, can trace its origins to the 1939 New York World's Fair in Queens, New York, per Distiller. However, a more popular story traces the hurricane back to New Orleans in the aftermath of World War II, when whiskey was in short supply, but rum was widely available. "This glut in the market led spirit distributors to get creative," according to New Orleans, which identifies the hurricane as one of the most popular drinks among visitors to Nola's French Quarter and suggests the name comes from the glass in which it was first served — whose hourglass silhouette resembles a hurricane lamp. 

If you'd like to make yourself a classic Hurricane cocktail, shake together, with plenty of ice, light and dark rums, passion fruit, orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and grenadine (via New Orleans). After everything's good and cold, strain into a hurricane or wine glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Jungle Bird

The Jungle Bird cocktail is another colorful rum drink that falls into the tiki category, but it's relatively new compared with some of the others we've been discussing on this list, such as the Mai Tai and the Hurricane. According to the "Cooking" section of the New York Times, the Jungle Bird was created back in 1978 at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton, and it's been taking off in popularity over the last several years. One reason for that surge in interest may be that the beverage contains just five ingredients, all of which can be easily found either in your home or at a nearby store: rum, Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Not surprisingly, given its five ingredients, the Jungle Bird is sometimes referred to as a "punch." In fact, that's how we refer to it here in our simple recipe for Jungle Bird Punch.

Yellow Bird

The Yellow Bird cocktail is another rum drink with a low-key sophisticated edge. While the same can be said of the Jungle Bird, thanks to its use of Campari, whose fruit juicy red coloring belies that it's not actually sweet and juicy at all, but rather an herbaceous bitter (via Saveur), the Yellow Bird can be distinguished by its bright yellow color, which it gets from the liqueur, Galliano. You may not be familiar with Galliano, but your Gen X friends may recall seeing it in their parents' booze stash, along with other old school favorites such as Drambuie, Amaretto, Heering cherry liqueur, and creme de menthe.

Galliano, which is yellow-hued in honor of the California Gold Rush, gets that color from food coloring (via Have A Cocktail). But try not to hold that against this complex herbaceous, vanilla-anise flavored spirit, which is made with a blend of 30 herbs in a process involving seven infusions and six distillations (via Liquor.com). Galliano may be best known for turning a screwdriver cocktail into a Harvey Wallbanger, but since we're on the subject of rum, here's how to use it to make its most well-known rum drink, the Yellow Bird: Combine white rum, orange liqueur, Galliano, fresh lime juice. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into an up-glass, and serve straight-up with either lemon or a sprig of rosemary, or both (recipe via MasterClass).

Rum Runner

The term "rum runners" refers to organized rum smugglers during the Prohibition era. Unlike "bootleggers," rum runners didn't distill their own; Rather, they were responsible for bringing it in from the Caribbean islands (via The Mob Museum). The Rum Runner cocktail, which commemorates these intrepid scofflaws who kept Florida's Keys rich in rum throughout Prohibition, was created in the late 1950s on the Florida key, Islamorada, according to Key West Food Tours. Specifically, the Rum Runner cocktail traces its roots to the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar, which, as the story goes, came up with this brightly-colored, tropically-fruited, heavily-spirited concoction as a way of using up a surplus of rums and other liqueurs that weren't moving as quickly as, say, whiskey, at least at the time. 

To make your own Rum Runner, you'll need, light rum, dark rum, banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine syrup. Shake it all up with ice, and strain into an icy hurricane glass (although, as you can see, a rocks glass will do just fine). Garnish with a brandied cherry or, if it's the season, a pineapple wedge (via Liquor.com). 

Planter's Punch

"I'm toasting to National Rum Day with a Planter's Punch," Instagram influencer, The Cocktail Snob, aka Camille, posted on August 16, 2021. Being of Jamaican descent, "rum is in my DNA," the cocktail expert explained, and Planter's Punch happens to be a rum cocktail recipe that originated in Jamaica. Like many punch recipes, Planter's Punch incorporates the five classic elements that are believed to be fundamental to all punches: a spirit, a citrus flavor, sweetness, spice, and water. Camille's recipe for Planter's Punch uses dark rum as its spirit, lime juice for its citrus flavor, both simple syrup and grenadine for sweetness, Angostura bitters, and club soda.

To make a single serving of Camille's Planter's Punch, mix together dark rum with simple syrup, lime juice, grenadine, and Angostura bitter. Shake with ice until well-chilled, and then top with club soda. Camille garnishes the Planter's Punch with a twist of orange and a maraschino cherry, but feel free to add a sprig of your favorite herb.

Rum and Coke (aka Cuba Libre)

When it comes to rum drinks, it doesn't get much more simple than a rum and Coke. But that doesn't mean a rum and Coke has to be basic — not when it's made with a premium rum. And when it is, some bartenders are willing to refer to it as a "Cuba Libre," according to Liquor.com. In truth, there really is no difference at all between a rum and Coke and a Cuba Libre, and the terms tend to be used interchangeably. 

Both iterations consist of rum and Coke (or other cola-flavored soda because, let's face it, Pepsi is out there too) over ice with a hint of lime. What makes any bartender's version different from others is usually a matter of proportion. For example, our favorite Cuba Libre recipe uses the 1:3 proportion (1 ounce rum to every 3 ounces of Coca-Cola) and is poured over ice into a Collins glass and garnished with a lime wedge (which we encourage you to squeeze generously into your drink).

Mojito

The mojito is one of the most popular rum cocktails served today, according to Liquor.com. What many don't know is that it can trace its roots all the way back to 16th century Havana, Cuba. The "El Draque," named for the English sea captain and explorer, Sir Francis Drake, who touched ground in Havana in 1586, combined rum's predecessor, aguardiete, with mint, lime, and sugar. Supposedly, it was intended for "medicinal" purposes, but that would be some mighty fine tasting medicine, if you were to ask us. By the 1930s, it was being made with rum and was immortalized in 1932's "Sloppy Joe's Bar Cocktail Manual" (from the Havana bar of the same name). 

To make a mojito. according to Bacardi's recipe, you're going to need 12 fresh mint leaves, which you will want to muddle right in your glass (use a sturdy rocks glass) along with freshly squeezed lime juice and the sections of lime from which you squeezed it, as well as extra fine sugar. Oh, and here's what you need to know about muddling before getting started. After muddling, pour light rum into the glass, add club soda, and top with a sprig of fresh mint. 

And, for a fun and slightly rosy twist on the classic mojito, might we suggest this rosé mojito cocktail recipe?

El Floridita (aka The Hemingway Daiquiri)

It's been said that author, Floridian, and well-known appreciator of rum, Ernest Hemingway, was a fan of mojitos, having enjoyed them at Havana's La Bodeguita del Medio (via Liquor.com). But Hemingway is even more closely associated with another drink, one that is a twist on a daiquiri, except with "less sugar and more rum" — which are the words Hemingway is believed to have used when ordering his second daiquiri the first time he stopped in at Havana's El Floridita, a cafe and bar, according to his niece, Hilary Hemingway (via NPR).

The resulting no-nonsense version of the daiquiri has several different names associated with it, the first being "El Floridita," in honor of the place where it was born, per Serious Eats. According to Ms. Hemingway, the drink has also been referred to as "Papa Doble," with "Papa" being a reference to Hemingway, an "Doble" being a reference to "a double" — as in, two ounces of booze. Or, in this case, rum. 

Nevertheless, some refer to this cocktail as the Hemingway Daiquiri. To make one, per Difford's Guide, mix Bacardi Gold rum (or substitute), pink grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur, lime juice and simply syrup in an icy shaker. Strain into a coupe glass.

Dark 'N Stormy

The Dark 'n Stormy may have a dark and mysterious ring to it, but the truth about this classic rum cocktail is that it's basically a bright and bubbly Moscow mule, only it is made with rum instead of vodka, per Food52. In other words, the Dark 'n Stormy is a combination of dark rum, ginger beer, and lime. Moreover, it's typically served in a rocks or highball glass, as opposed to a copper mug (although sometimes it may be served in a copper mug, we suppose). The Dark 'n Stormy is not only a rum classic, according to CNN Travel, but the "unofficial drink" of Bermuda. If you want to make a real deal Dark 'n Stormy, you'll need Gosling's Black Seal rum, as the brand has patented and trademarked the spiced cocktail.

To make this easy-to-prepare, easy-to-sip drink, you'll need said Gosling's Black Seal rum, plus ginger beer and fresh lime juice (via Esquire). Fill a highball glass with ice (or a copper mug because why not?), then pour the rum, followed by the ginger beer, followed by the lime. Stir gently, garnish with a wedge of lime, and enjoy. 

Painkiller

Behold, the paradox of the creamsicle-hued cocktail known as the Painkiller. Light, sweet, and creamy, it offers the casual flexibility of being enjoyed shaken, blended, or stirred. Yet it's name sounds so terribly stark and serious. The name, of course, belies the fruity and sweet reality of the Painkiller cocktail, which is not stark or serious at all. In fact, this sweet and creamy tiki drink can be described as being kind of like a piña colada, but with a hint of orange and a dusting of nutmeg — and except for the fact that there's a slightly higher proportion of pineapple juice to coconut cream in the Painkiller than in the classic piña colada, per Food Network. In other words, the Painkiller sounds a lot more intimidating than it is. 

The ingredients for a Painkiller are rum, pineapple, orange juice, and cream of coconut. To make your own Painkiller, shake all of the aforesaid ingredients, and serve over ice and sprinkled with ground nutmeg, according to the Robb Report. Of course, if you want your orange-colada cocktail in the frostiest possible form, you'll need to check out our Painkiller Slushie recipe

Rum Old Fashioned

The rum old fashioned is the rum version of a drink that could very well be considered the archetypal "cocktail," per Liquor.com, which points out that early American papers dating back to 1806 suggest the word "cocktail" was used back then to refer to a combination of spirit, sugar, bitters, and water in a glass. Those four elements actually bear a strong resemblance to punch's five ingredients (via Difford's Guide), minus the citrus. But here's a fun "twist," so to speak: Some rum old fashioned recipes include a dash or two of orange bitters, not to mention an orange twist garnish. 

Of course, a rum old fashioned delivers a vastly different experience from punch. For one thing, unlike punch, which is typically served over cracked ice, the old fashioned is typically served either straight up or poured over one large, smooth-edged piece of ice. Instagram user Part Time Mixologist has a recipe for a rum old fashioned that consist of dark rum, demerara sugar syrup, allspice dram, and dashes of Angostura bitters and orange bitters. Stir and strain into a rocks glass, with or without the big chunk of ice.

El Presidente

The El Presidente cocktail is to the classic gin or vodka martini, what the rum old fashioned is to the whiskey old fashioned. That is to say that it is a straightforward, gently stirred rum version of a classic cocktail that is best built using a really good rum that you're looking to experience without competition from sugary, brightly-colored juices. Like the daiquiri, the El Presidente hails from Cuba, but if Liquor.com is right in asserting this rum drink was named for President Mario García Menocal, then it likely came along a decade or two after Jennings Stockton Cox scribbled on a piece of paper what is believed to be the first recorded daiquiri recipe (via Diffords Guide and University of Miami ).

The El Presidente, like a classic martini, incorporates the boozy fortified wine, vermouth, and can be shaken or stirred, depending on your preference. However, it also contains orange curacao (presumably to bring out some of the rum's deeper flavor notes) and a couple of dashes of grenadine syrup (presumably to add a touch of sweetness and a bit of rosy color). To make a classic El Presidente cocktail, combine white rum, dry vermouth, orange curacao, and a few dashes of grenadine syrup. Stir with ice, and strain into coupe glasses, garnished with orange peel.