Dark Rum cocktails 2021 – 5 must know and essential dark rum cocktails 2021

Dark Rum cocktails 2021 - 5 must know and essential dark rum cocktails 2021

Dos-Maderas-rum-Cocktail-Egg Nogg - HERO - 2

Dark rums offer such a distinctive flavor profile – big, bold and uncompromising, yet fun and approachable too, with their rich, confectionary caramel and spice character, not to mention deep and complex molasses notes. All contribute to offering the best of barrel-aged attributes that we love in a glass, which then make an open and shut case for being ideal in creating standout cocktails. 

Many popular rum cocktails aren’t shy when it comes to flavorful ingredients and colorful presentations and happen to be the perfect way to showcase the punchier flavors of aged or dark rums. If you enjoy the taste of a complex spirit like dark rum, it stands to reason that you would want to taste it in your cocktail as well and see how beautifully it collaborates with its partnering ingredients. On the flip side, many classic aromatic spirit forward cocktails are also natural recipes to exhibit such rums in balance with the bitter and sweet tones of its mixers.

Below are a few cocktails to consider – some of the best dark rum cocktails out there – but it’s also worth experimenting to create a refreshing and or uniquely sensory driven dark rum cocktail of your own.

Best rum cocktail: A Classic Mai Tai

Mai Tai - Hero

The post war tropical rum scene that came to be known as Tiki was arguably led by the Mai Tai wars wherein two of the country’s most prominent barmen of the time, “Trader Vic” Bergeron and Don “ the Beachcomber” rallied to claim the recipe as his own creation for decades, the former eventually winning the battle. The name originates from the Tahitian phrase maita’i roe a’e which means “good” or “excellence” and this in itself should be a brazen flag of dark rum perfection in a cocktail. What is the best rum cocktail? The Mai Tai. Gallantly refreshing, layered and complex, this classic recipe exquisitely combines sweet almond orgeat, accents of orange and bright fresh lime with a dark rum base, often blended with a lighter or golden rum over crushed ice.

 It’s also a cocktail that begs for beautiful yet functionally aromatic garnishes including any combination of the following: a discarded lime shell, fresh mint, orange peels, paper umbrellas and orchids.

What is the best dark rum for a Mai Tai? The combination of Dos Maderas 5+3 and Selección. This is the best tiki rum Mai Tai combination because the smooth richness of the 5+3 and the spicier edge and potency of the Selección play extremely well together standing up to the bold sweet and sour ingredients as well as standing out as a delicious partnership.

    • 1 1/2 oz. Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
    • 1/2 oz. Dos Maderas Selección Rum
    • 1/2 oz. Dry Curaçao like Pierre Ferrand
    • 1/2 oz. Demerara Syrup (1:1)
    • 1/4 oz. Orgeat Syrup
    • 1 oz. fresh lime juice

Elaboration of the Classic Mai Tai drink

      1. Prepare your Demerara Syrup by dissolving 1 part demerara sugar into 1 part boiling water. Let cool.
      2. Chill a Double-Rocks or Highball glass.
      3. Cut a lime in half and juice your limes.
      4. Add all ingredients to your shaker
      5. Fill shaker with cracked ice.
      6. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
      7. Double-strain, using a fine mesh strainer to remove excess pulp and ice shards, into your chilled glass.
      8. Fill glass with crushed ice.
      9. Stir and refresh with more crushed ice.
      10. Garnish with a bunch of fresh mint, a lime wheel, an orange peel twist and an edible orchid.
      11. Serve with reusable straw. 

There are a number variations of the Mai Tai rum cocktail as it is a combination that inspires all bartenders who try it. The key is to avoid the clutter of extra sweet juices and grenadine and to stick to the core. Some truly talented mixologists have had great success with these recipes which are worth checking out.

Mai Sha Roa Na – Bartender Anthony Schmidt subs in banana liqueur for the Orange Curaçao in the original recipe and a macadamia nut syrup for the orgeat for a fun lesson on riffs and building flavors.

S.O.S. Mai Tai – This variant created by Spirits Educator/Cocktail Consultant Shannon Mustipher edits down the amount of lime juice, but also incorporates a flaming lime shell as a garnish. 

Bitter Mai Tai – In accordance with the growing preference for more bitter elements in tropical style cocktails, this variation created by bartender Jeremy Oertel, incorporates a hefty dose of Campari in its base.

Most Popular Rum cocktail: Piña Colada with dark rum

The Piña Colada rum cocktail is a classic for a reason, blending tropical pineapple flavors with creamy coconut notes, often lifted up by some citrus. It evokes holidays, beaches, and fun, carefree times. The Piña Colada cocktail is so popular, it’s even featured in a song that has been popularized for decades gaining all kinds of traction in karaoke bars worldwide.

While originally crafted with a light rum, the combination of rich sweet and creamy flavors can certainly handle a richer rum that’ll stand out and contribute its full, spicy character to the finished cocktail.

What is the best dark rum for a Piña Colada? Well, if you’ve chosen to modify the classic piña colada drink by tapping into the rich spice character of aged rum flavors, then it’s best to go with a rum with at least 5 or more years in barrel maturation. Anything less might be overpowered by the tropical and creamy ingredients in the drink. Baking spices like nutmeg and clove that naturally occur with cask time will cut through the cream and pineapple and enhance the coconut notes, making for a distinctive, memorable cocktail.

    • 1 1/2 ounces rum – Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
    • 1 oz. Cream of Coconut
    • 1 oz Coconut Milk
    • 1.75 oz. fresh pressed pineapple juice
    • 1/4 ounce fresh ​​lime juice (optional)

Elaboration of the Classic piña colada drink

      1. Chill a Hurricane or Poco Grande Glass
      2. Break down your ripe pineapple and press your juice
      3. Add all ingredients to your shaker
      4. Fill shaker with cracked ice
      5. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds
      6. Strain into your chilled glass
      7. Fill cocktail with crushed ice or pebble ice
      8. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, a couple pineapple leaves and a paper umbrella 
      9. Float .5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+5 Rum on top for extra aroma (optional)
      10. Serve with a reusable straw

There are a number of variations on the Piña Colada, and it’s worth taking the time to personalize this drink to your preferences. One of the main ways is to switch up the base spirit, or to combine two different rum styles. Others skip the coconut and make a pineapple syrup instead. Below are some well-known variants to give you some inspiration:

Blue Hawaiian, or “The Swimming Pool” cocktail, with blue curaçao to add not only a touch of orange, but an eye-catching blue color too.

Painkiller – created at the Soggy Dollar Bar in the British Virgin Islands, this adds orange juice and reduces the amount of coconut cream and pineapple.

Banana Colada, dials up the tropical appeal of the classic by adding fresh banana and often some Crème de Banane.

Queen’s Park Swizzle - The best refreshing dark rum drink

Queens Park Swizzle - HERO - 4

There’s nothing quite like a dark rum swizzle to transport you to the tropics, enhance a day in the sunshine, or to simply cool your overheated summer excursions down a notch. There are many swizzle versions that include various juices and liquor combinations but hands down, the royal combination of dark rum, sugar, fresh lime, mint, aromatic bitters and crushed ice is the monarch of them all.

A Queen’s Park Swizzle drink is a beautifully layered, bright and aromatic drink with views that look good from all angles. Made properly, it puts other thematic sunset cocktails to shame.

The Queen’s Park Swizzle takes its name from the former 1920’s hotel of the same name in Trinidad’s Port of Spain. It became an early favorite of New York and San Francisco new age speakeasies in the later 2000’s and with good reason. And in fact, I’d wager this Swizzle recipe may have heavily influenced the resurgence and appreciation of dark rums in cocktails. The drink sounds simple but the uniquely refreshing and aromatic end result is due to the proper order of steps in its construction. Served in a tall Collins glass, add a few torn leaves of mint, lightly muddle with lime juice and simple syrup. Drop your lime shell directly in the vessel and fill with crushed ice and rum. Then mix with a swizzle stick, the hand crafted forked Caribbean mixing tool designed to mix crushed ice and frost your glass without freezing your hands. Top with fresh crushed ice and garnish with plenty of fresh mint and a generous float of Angostura bitters. Serve with a reusable straw.

The best rum to make a Queen’s Park Swizzle is a rum that hails from the Demerara region. The Demerara river runs through Guyana along the north coast of South America and is well known and regarded for its elegant dark rums. In fact, Dos Maderas 5+5 is a great base for this recipe with its Demerara heritage before further aging in Spain.

    • 2 oz. Dos Maderas 5+5
    • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
    • 1 oz. simple syrup (1:1)
    • several dashes of Angostura bitters
    • several mint leaves

East India Negroni - The best Bitter Rum Drink

Back in 2009, bartender-author Jim Meehan and founder of one of the country’s best new age speakeasy cocktail bars, PDT, came up with an outstanding Negroni variant incorporating both aged rum and medium rich sherry to the newly trending formula. The name is derived from the Exploration Age-historic nod to sherry casks that had been aged while travelling overseas. 

Not only did his recipe truly open eyes to many bartenders about the ability for rums to veer out of their lane of “only tropical cocktails,” but it also added to the growing excitement of using sherry in craft cocktails. 

Fast forward to today, we have an ongoing delicious trend of dark rum bitter cocktails both of the aromatic variety, like the Rum Old-Fashioned, and the sour genre, like the Jungle Bird. While these are both excellent cocktails, this Rum Negroni cocktail paved a path for some really tasty variations and if you’re a cocktail fan, you absolutely adore well crafted variations on a theme.

What is the best rum to use in an East India Negroni cocktail? Meehan originally used a lighter rum but made a point of suggesting aged rums are also a welcome riff. The beauty of this bitter rum cocktail is how adaptable it can be for your rum preferences. The weight of a dark rum stands up to the bold Campari and shares natural kinship with the sherry and its baking spice nuance. Stir all ingredients over ice and serve on fresh ice. Don’t forget the orange peel garnish at the end. That aromatic accent is the cherry on top of a modern classic.

    • 2 oz. Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
    • .75 oz. Williams & Humbert Solera Especial Dry Sack Sherry
    • .75 oz. Campari

Rum Runner - A fruity dark rum cocktail

A tropical classic, the Rum Runner cocktail is traditionally made with a combination of rums, often at least one light and one dark rum. This combination allows the rum to bring a significant amount of flavor to the drink, to pair with the array of other ingredients. The result is a complex, tropical recipe that’s nothing short of sunshine in a glass.

While its origins are shrouded in mystery – probably the result of endless experimentation – the Rum Runner cocktail’s name refers to the Prohibition era, when bootlegging was the only way to obtain spirits.

Below is a recipe for creating a rum runner using a cocktail shaker, but you should feel free to make changes to the ingredients and quantities to discover even more flavor combinations and ways to showcase the rich flavors of the rum.

    • 6 fresh blackberries
    • 1.5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
    • .5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+5 Rum
    • 1 oz. Crème de Banane (preferably Tempus Fugit)
    • 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
    • .5 oz. fresh orange juice
    • .5 oz. fresh lime juice
    • .25 oz. pomegranate based grenadine using honey

There is also a frozen rum runner variation that uses slightly different ingredients:

    • 6 fresh blackberries
    • 1.5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum
    • .5 oz. Dos Maderas 5+5 Rum
    • .5 oz. Crème de Banane (preferably Tempus Fugit)
    • A half of a ripe banana sliced up
    • 4 chunks of ripe pineapple (roughly 1” x 1”)
    • .5 oz. fresh orange juice
    • .5 oz. fresh lime juice
    • .25 oz. pomegranate based grenadine using honey (instructions below)
    • 1 ½ cups of crushed ice

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