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The Daiquiri is often a bartender’s favorite drink, a classic that is deceptively simple-sounding but takes some skill to pull off properly. The basic ingredients are rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. The first is the most important, of course, and there are so many different styles to choose from depending on what type of Daiquiri you are making.
Light or white rum is often used, but dark rum is just as welcome in this drink. There are high and low-proof options to consider, as well as the different flavor profiles each bottle brings based on its country of origin, barrel aging, and the way it’s distilled or blended. We asked top bartenders around the country for their recommendations on which rum to use for a well-made Daiquiri, and they came up with options for every budget and palate.
Here are the best rums we've found to make your next perfect Daiquiri.
Best Overall: Equiano
Region: Barbados, Mauritius | ABV: 43% | Tasting Notes: Butterscotch, Raisin, Brown Sugar
"Daiquiris are hailed as a pillar for cocktails, and one the first classic cocktails I learned to perfect,” says Washington, D.C. bartender Sargent Black. “The spiced-toffee and banana flavors of Equiano Rum craft the Daiquiri into a message that speaks to the heroism of Olauduah Equiano and the richness of Black culture."
Kim Hunter, founder of Potent Pours, is also a fan. “I personally love aged spirits,” she says, “and I think that [co-founder] Ian Burrell did a phenomenal job at making sure that Equiano kept the integrity of the rum distilling process, but put a twist on it by aging this rum in ex-cognac and ex-bourbon casks.”
“The butterscotch, caramel, orange and hints of oak work well with the citrus to take the classic Daiquiri to another level,” says Atlanta bartender Thandi Walton. “It’s one of the best rums I’ve tasted.”
Related: The Best Rums for Rum & Cokes
Best Budget: Bacardi Superior
Region: Puerto Rico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, Vanilla, Floral
“The classic Daiquiri is a very simple but beautiful drink, and typically suited to a light rum,” says Myles Holdsworth, director of food & beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. “Being one of Cuba’s most famous cocktails, a great option is to utilize Bacardi, which originated in Cuba before moving to Puerto Rico.”
Bacardi Superior is a great budget option to use in a Daiquiri, but Holdsworth mentions that there are higher-end options from Bacardi to consider as well.
Related: The Best Rums
Best for Hemingway: Owney’s Original
Region: Brooklyn, NY | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Sugar Cane, Banana, Smoke
“The earthy and floral characteristics of Owney's Original Rum make this the perfect spirit for a fresh, citrusy, and light Daiquiri. It is especially good in a Hemingway Daiquiri,” says Isabella Marriott, bartender at Bar Beau in Brooklyn.
This version of the drink combines white rum, lime and grapefruit juice, and maraschino liqueur. The character of the rum from this NYC craft distillery pairs perfectly with the components used.
Best Dark: Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario
Region: Guatemala | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Honey, Cinnamon, Ginger
Reniel Garcia, corporate beverage manager for V&E Restaurant Group, recommends using this dark Guatemalan rum, a blend of liquid aged between 6 and 23 years, to use when making a Daiquiri.
“[It has a] smooth aroma honeyed with caramel and fruitiness. It’s sweet and mouth-warming with hints of oak, vanilla, dried fruits, and some licorice, but with a long finish that complements the cocktail.”
Best for Frozen: Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Rum Extra Seco
Region: Nicaragua | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: White Chocolate, Orange, Vanilla
“These are stormy waters to weigh into depending on what sort of Daiquiri you're looking for, but for the classic standard workhorse you're looking at Flor de Cana 4-Year-Old,” says Tobias Hogan, of The Aimsir Distilling Co. “It is rich and round with sweet notes that complement and elevate the lime juice, and it will never disappoint. “ Go ahead and use this when making the frozen version of the Daiquiri to elevate this poolside cocktail.
Best White: Don Q Cristal
Region: Puerto Rico | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Pineapple, Brown Sugar
“My favorite rum for a standard Daiquiri would have to be Don Q Cristal White Rum,” says Reece Dodd of Helen in Birmingham, AL.
“Don Q Cristal is simple and smooth. Unlike most clear rums, Don Q uses a multiple distillation process. This process provides a cleaner and delicate profile. After distillation, it is aged for 1.5 to 5 years in American white oak barrels. This is to create a smoother finish, making it the perfect rum to refine your classic Daiquiri build.”
Related: The Best White Rums
Best Age Statement: El Dorado 3 Year
Region: Guyana | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Lemon, Cane Sugar, Cacao
“The best rum is El Dorado 3 Year White Rum,” says Scott Moser, bartender at FIRE at The ART Hotel Denver. “The complexity of the rum makes this deceptively simple cocktail magical.” It is aged for three years and then filtered to remove the color picked up from the barrel.
Nestor Marchand, director of food & beverage at Plunge Beach Resort, also recommends it. “For Daiquiris, I prefer El Dorado from Guyana,” he says. “It's one of my favorite light rums with notes of baking spice and orange peel along with a hint of other fruits. The spice calms down a bit and leaves a lovely caramel flavor coating on the tongue.”
Best for Split Rum Daiquiri: Plantation 3 Star
Region: Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica | ABV: 41.2% | Tasting Notes: Biscuit, Chocolate, Grass
“For me, a Daiquiri is how I measure other bartenders,” says Graham Courter, bar manager of Main Street Meats in Chattanooga, TN.
“Such a simple three ingredient and classic drink, but it can really show one’s understanding of simple ingredients and spirits. When someone sits at my bar, I typically use a split base of two different rums. Plantation 3 Star is my starting point, at 1.5 ounces. Its blend of three rums is perfect across the board, with just enough funk from the Jamaican rum to stand up to the lime.”
Best Blend: Probitas Rum
Region: Jamaica, Barbados | ABV: 47% | Tasting Notes: Custard, Citrus, Pineapple
“Probitas blends rum from two iconic distilleries, Foursquare in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica, to create the perfect light, tropical blend with citrus and vanilla notes,” says Scott Baird, owner of Zeppelin Nashville.
Jon Feuersanger, bar manager at Death & Co Denver, enjoys using this rum as well. “It’s an all-around favorite rum of mine,” he says. “It’s both bright and light with a touch of funk that I love in a proper Daiquiri.”
For Clay Tolbert of The Alley Light in Virginia, the higher ABV works well in a Daiquiri. “You’ve got three ingredients, and they all need to count,” he says. “Probably best if you use a rum that’s bringing the heat, bringing esters with its Jamaican roots, and bringing some refinery with some cheeky mature Barbadian juice too.”
Read Next: The Best Rums for Piña Coladas
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Jonah Flicker is an experienced writer who has been covering spirits and traveling the world visiting distilleries for many years. His work has appeared in many different national outlets covering trends, new releases, and the stories and innovators behind the spirits. His first love remains whiskey, but he is partial to tequila, rum, gin, cognac and all things distilled.