We’re game to celebrate nearly every food- or drink-focused holiday (National Margarita Day, anyone?), so we’re excited that August is Rum Month. Rum is the elixir of both swash-buckling pirates and bleary-eyed Caribbean travelers alike. But some folks have rum misconceptions: They think only of umbrella-topped super-sweet frozen drinks or unimaginative soda mixes from their young-adult years. We’re here to open your eyes to a brave new world of this sugar cane-based liquid miracle. Beyond plain Bacardi, there are hundreds of varieties of rum — some as premium as any top-shelf cognac.
These 21 bars from coast-to-coast (and points in between) are serving up choice cocktails this month using rums you may not have heard of before. And don’t forget that Saturday, August 16 is officially National Rum Day. So raise a glass and say, “Aaar!”
The Rum House, NYC
This Midtown bar has a dizzying list of rum cocktails and more than 60 different reserve, spiced, overproof, and aged rums. Every Tuesday there’s a celebration of world-wide rums, free tastings, themed cocktails, exclusive bottles, and live music.
DNV at Donovan House, Washington DC
Head to the Coconut Juice Bar for a coconut smoothie mixed with El Dorado 151 and laced with Chinese five-spice powder. Head Bartender Jon Harris even has a machete to slice through other fruity add-ons like mango and pineapple.
Andaz 5th Avenue, The Bar Downstairs
This watering hotel’s name goes along with its prohibition-inspired theme, where guests gain access through a side staircase. To go along with the Latin-inspired menu, order a glass of the Cat’s Pajamas, made with Panama’s Caña Brava rum, lime, honey syrup, Lillet rosé, and egg white. Have one or two of those and you’ll quickly find out why they call it a speakeasy.
Henrietta’s Table, Cambridge, MA
It’s almost impossible to not mention the mojito when it comes to rum, and this restaurant at the The Charles Hotel offers a mixed berry version using Boston-made Bully Boy White Rum, assorted berries, lime, raw sugar, mint, and soda water. It’s a fitting drink to take the edge off a nail-biting Red Sox game, we hear.
Mother’s Ruin, NYC
This Soho bar is honoring National Rum Day on August 16 by offering a twist on the typical Bloody Mary. The name? The Bloody Jerry and it’s made with Caribbean-distilled Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak seasoning spices, wet minced garlic, spicy bean or pickle juice, and plain tomato juice. If that wasn’t eyebrow-raising enough, they’ll accompany it with a selection of garnishes from pizza to french fries. Not that daring? A build-your-own Bloody Jerry bar will be set up, too.
The Westin New York at Times Square
Traditional Spanish sangria is made with red wine and brandy, but variations are allowed for Rum Month. The Westin breaks the mold with a sparkly White Sangria cocktail consisting of the USVI’s Cruzan Mango Rum, fresh OJ, pineapple cubes, and topped with Prosecco. Olé, indeed.
Cedar Local, NYC
You won’t feel silly ordering a Pedro Collins — not when you understand the history of the rum in this cocktail. Brugal Extra Dry is a product of a Dominican Republic distillery that’s existed since 1888. Their hand-cut sugarcane is aged in Puerto Plata’s mountains, milled into molasses, then aged in Bourbon oak casks for up to five years. When the bar gets their bottle, they mix it with cardamom, lemon, and club soda for a sipper that’s strong enough to put hair on your chest.
Longitude, Santa Monica, CA
Another common rum cocktail is the daiquiri, but when you use the Dominican Republic’s Atlantico Platino Rum and mix it with lime, cane syrup, and — the pièce de résistance — green Chartreuse, you have the Daiquiri Elixir, a drink that redefines the whole idea of the drink.
Red Star Tavern, Portland, Oregon
If you can’t bring the islands to Oregon, they’ll make due. This trendy bar offers the tropical Montego Bay, a concoction of Bank’s 5 Island Rum, grapefruit, lime, allspice dram, honey, and absinthe. Come to think of it, that last ingredient may convince you you’re in Jamaica after all.
A.O.C., Los Angeles
The intriguingly named “Mosquito Coast” is a chilled (and spicy) cocktail featuring Nicaragua’s premium Flor de Caña’s Gran Reserva. Already delicious on its own, this gets funky with a dash of chile de arbol tincture added to fresh pineapple juice, pistachio syrup, and cherry for a kick.
Hakkasan, San Francisco
Calling a drink the Cup of Gold brings high expectations, that’s why this hip Asian bar uses a 12-year-aged Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum from Venezuela. They then infuse it in-house with pricey saffron and add Green Chartreuse, passionfruit and lemon juice. Luckily you only have to pay $15 for it, not a king’s ransom.
Searsucker, San Diego
Not for the faint of heart, the Walking Dead is a potent liquor trifecta of Bacardi, Hamilton’s Black Rum from Jamaica, and the Guyananese-distilled Lemon Heart 151. Cinnamon syrup, pineapple juice, and ginger beer are added, turning this into a distinctly spicy sipper.
Chianti, Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island is already a special destination, so it’s interesting to discover that Michigan also makes its own rum called New Holland Huron. Head to Chianti, one of the three restaurants available, and order an Island Punch made with the liquor, OJ, pineapple juice, Amaretto, and Grenadine. It’s their take on the rum punch and for $8, it gets much respect.
CBC Lounge, Chicago
Luckily Rum Month is in August. It’s the perfect weather to enjoy the new outdoor patio along the Chicago River at the Sheraton Chicago and you can order the Hummingbird. It’s made with Trinidad’s 10 Cane Rum, fresh lemon, basil, honey, and strawberries.
Borgne Restaurant, New Orleans
Rum enthusiast Chef Brian Landry went as far as the Canary Islands when deciding on the perfect rum cocktail for his restaurant. He chose Ron Arehucas Honey Rum and Ron Arehucas Aged Rum, spirits that hail from the country’s oldest distillery. The “Canary Island Ice Pick” is a mixture of both rums along with fresh squeezed lemonade, iced tea, and mint leaves. You won’t ever look for a Hurricane again.
Cuba Libre Restaurant, Orlando
National Rum Day is being celebrated with gusto here with rum, mojito, and ceviche flights. Plus on both August 15 and 16, the happy hour will include half-price rum drinks including the Sandito Mojito made with Panama’s well-respected Ron Abuelo 7 Años and watermelon.
Elegant Hotels, Barbados
It’s said that Barbados is the birthplace of rum. One thing’s for sure: it’s home to the famous Mount Gay brand. If you’re staying at one of these all-inclusive resorts, take comfort in knowing that you can have as many rum punches as you want using this local mainstay. Guests can look forward to surprises, thanks to the resort’s top-notch bartenders. Each has their own special recipe.
Curtain Bluff, Antigua
This sailor’s paradise naturally produces its own rums. The most famous is English Harbour, followed by Cavalier. At this resort, belly up to the bar and ask for a Caribbean Fantasy. You’ll be given a glass filled with a blend of local rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and grenadine cream. The drink’s name might sound redundant, but that shouldn’t stop you from ordering another round.
Red Coral Lounge, San Juan, Puerto Rico
This island is the birthplace of the piña colada, and ordering the national drink is nearly obligatory during your visit. But we’re also intrigued by something you won’t find on the menu at this bar, which is located in the San Juan Marriott — the Rum Island cocktail. You have to ask the bartender for it, and you’ll be glad you did when you’re handed a chilled glass filled with four types of rum from Puerto Rico’s Casa Bacardi distillery. The rest of the ingredients a secret, but we’ve been told that no one asks too many questions. They just keep ordering.
Opus, Turks and Caicos
The restaurant/bar at Ocean Club Resorts has more than 50 kinds of regional rums and offers tasting flights. One option is a sample of the locally made Bambarra, the Reserve, and the Trouvadore. If you prefer it in cocktail form, there’s the Bambarra Breeze, made with Bambarra Gold, coconut rum, and pineapple juice.
Casa Palopo, Guatemala
Who knew that Guatemala produces rum? Zacapa Rum 23, a dark rum aged in the Guatemalan mountains, is the anchor to this boutique hotel’s signature drink — the Rosa Palopo. Other ingredients like hibiscus extract are added for a refreshing cooler that’s designed to enhance the already gorgeous views of Lake Atitlan and the volcanoes across the shore.