August 16th is National Rum Day, another pseudo-holiday created by the spirits industry to drive up sales. But it's a good reason to celebrate rum, which happens to be thriving at the moment. Rum is in fact one of the oldest spirits to be consumed in America, dating back to colonial times. Today, there are many different brands available here, some new and some old, originating in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and even here in the States. Rum distilleries are releasing a variety of expressions that are spiced and aged to various degrees to be used in cocktails or drank on their own. Here are some of our favorites, along with some excellent cocktail recipes, to get you going on National Rum Day.
This Venezuelan distillery releases a wide range of rum expressions, from affordable to premium. The Reserva Exclusiva is a good one to try; it's an easy-sipping, slightly sweet rum that tastes great on its own or in a variety of cocktails.
This Bahamian rum is new to the States, and still in limited release. It was launched in Florida in 2015, and is now also available in Tennessee, New York, and Chicago. The company sources its rum from Trinidad, blending and releasing 7-year-old and 15-year-old expressions that are deep brown, tasting of oak, caramel, and vanilla. The 15-year-old in particular should be enjoyed neat, but the 7-year-old is perfect for cocktails.
The Kraken brand loves to spin tales of the mythical sea creature from which it got its name on its website. But stories aside, this is a good spiced rum, which originates in Barbados and has been available in the U.S. since 2010. The newest expression, just launched this past July, is The Kraken Black Spiced Rum Dark Label - a 70 proof rum blended with a variety of different spices.
Parce Rum was founded by three American brothers who share a love of Colombia and, of course, rum. They brought on a Colombian father and son blending team to create really complex and flavorful 8 and 12-year-old expressions of this rum, sourced from Panama and the Caribbean, and blended in Colombia.
And, if you're looking for a good rum cocktail, we've rounded up refreshing and creative recipes from some elite bartenders.
Stars in My Eyes by Michael Neff (Holiday Cocktail Lounge)
2 oz. Santa Teresa "1796" Rum
1/2 oz. Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
1/4 oz. Earl Grey syrup
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until well-chilled. Serve up in a cold cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
High Color Buck by Nicholas Bennett (Porchlight)
1 1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum (float)
1/2 oz ginger
3/4 oz lime juice
1 whole strawberry (muddled)
Garnish with whole strawberry and a mint sprig in a shaker tin, muddle one whole strawberry. Add the remaining ingredients (except the Cruzan Black Strap) and shake with ice. Fine strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice and top with soda. Float the remaining Cruzan Rum on the cocktail and garnish.
Brooklyn Burro by Ivy Mix (Leyenda)
2 oz. El Dorado 3 Year Rum
1/2 oz. ginger syrup
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with soda. Garnish with a lime wheel and a ginger candy.
Hemingway Daiquiri (Employees Only)
1 1/2 oz. Caña Brava Rum
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
1/2 oz. Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
Combine in cocktail shaker over ice, strain into chilled coupe.
Seersucker (The Stanton Social)
1 oz. Sailor Jerry Rum
1/2 oz. Jack Daniel's
1/4 oz. Maraschino
3/4 oz. Lillet
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
4 dashes grapefruit bitters
Combine ingredients. Shake. Garnish with grapefruit wedges.