By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
Updated November 14, 2016
The Rum & Cream
| Credit: Carey Jones

Of all the bottles that haven’t been celebrated by the craft cocktail movement, Bailey’s is amongst the most notorious. It’s sweet — really sweet — and often paired with equally sweet ingredients, for dessert cocktails that often end up tasting like boozy milkshakes.

But higher-quality cream liqueurs can in fact be quite tasty, as we learned from sipping on a bottle of Magnum Cream Liqueur, rolling out to stores across the country. (We hear that the dairy geniuses from Kerrygold are bringing a cream liqueur to the States soon, which we are also looking forward to.) Made in Scotland, rather than Ireland, Magnum starts from a base of Dutch cream, sweetened and then boozed up with Speyside Scotch. It’s smooth, a bit lighter than Bailey’s, and more restrained with the sugar; tasting of toffee and caramel, it’s excellent in dessert drinks, or in slightly more sophisticated cocktails. Give these three a try.

Easy: Espresso Martini Redux

An espresso martini is generally made with coffee liqueur and vodka; we’re twisting the formula by using actual coffee (cold brew is ideal), white rum, and good cream liqueur. We’d call it a “latte martini,” but that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue in the same way…

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 ounce of cream liqueur, 1 ounce of cold brew coffee, and 1 ounce of white rum. Shake until well-chilled and the drink gets a bit frothy. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a few cracked coffee beans.

Intermediate: Rum & Cream

For this drink, we’re taking inspiration from the Dominicana — a cocktail with dark rum and coffee liqueur, topped with a float of sweetened cream. We’re omitting the coffee liqueur, stirring dark rum with bitters for a drink that’s essentially a rum Old Fashioned, with a float of cream liqueur.

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of dark rum (Diplomatico or Zacapa would be great here), 1/4 ounce of simple syrup, 2 dashes of Angostura bitters and 1 dash of orange bitters. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. Carefully float 1 ounce of cream liqueur on the top.

Advanced: Berries & Cream

While the previous two drinks are more traditional uses of a cream liqueur, we find that it can integrate well into fruit cocktails, too. Adding cream liqueur to a blackberry-Scotch sour gives the drink real richness and texture, almost like a far-less-sweet blackberry milkshake. Hard to resist.

Instructions: Muddle 5 blackberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add 2 ounces of blended Scotch (Famous Grouse is great here), 1/2 an ounce of honey syrup (1 part honey stirred together with 1 part hot water), 1/4 ounce of fresh lemon, and an ounce of cream liqueur. Shake until well-chilled, then double-strain (through the shaker’s own strainer and a fine mesh strainer) into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with 3 blackberries.