You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Have more shopping to do? Find more bottles in our Holiday Gift Guide.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state.
“This rum is a long-aged example of blended Jamaican rum. It’s full-bodied but refined by a minimum of 12 years spent in oak. It’s an exceptional value for a rum with such complex character. Appleton's 12-year-old is a mandatory component of a great Mai Tai but is also well-suited for enjoying neat or on the rocks.”—Kevin Beary, beverage director at Chicago's Three Dots and a Dash
“Rich and satisfying, this demerara rum is a blend of four different stills and rums from 15 to 25 years.”—Bodenheimer
“There’s rich dried fruits and banana through and through. Savory cinnamon and vanilla ring in the glass.”—Jennings
“The water used in this rum comes from the fabled ‘fountain of youth’ in Barbados, and the bourbon cask aging adds notes of vanilla and fresh caramel, while the rum itself has tropical notes of tamarind and banana.”—Holguin
“This high-proof (140 proof) rum evokes a sense of place more than a specific profile for me. It's grassiness reminds me of a challenging walk in the Badlands in fall, right before a drink of water. It’s hard to describe and not for the faint of heart but a study in the limits of sugar cane distillation.”—Peder Schweigert, general manager at Minneapolis' Marvel Bar
“This Brazilian ‘rum’ is grassy and dry and makes a great Daiquiri. It’s a step away from your classic dry white rum.”—Green
“It always surprises me how its amazing and unique climate makes such an exciting bold and particular flavor, also accentuated by the Venezuelan mineral water.”—Salicetti
“Like many bartenders, I have a soft spot for a good Daiquiri, and we’re always fiddling with the rum (or rums) used to make one. Right now, I’m really into O.F.T.D. At 69 percent ABV, it’s a bit of a face puncher, so I usually cut it with something else, but the rounded fruitiness that comes through is incredible.”—Michael Lazar, whiskey concierge and lead bartender at San Francisco's Hard Water
“It’s legitimately the most delicious flavored booze I've ever had. There are no artificial flavors, and the pineapple is prominent from the distillation process.”—Szot
“This is probably in the top three of my personal favorites. It’s Venezuelan rum made using the solera system, which consists of four separate levels of oak barrels. The initial rum is poured into the first level of oak barrels, where it’s aged for a time before half of it is poured into the next level of oak barrels, where the process repeats again and again. What results is a softer and rounder rum that tastes of sweets and spices, as well as other profound flavors. Sometimes when it’s available, I add delicious super cold, fresh coconut water from a young coconut. Delicious!”—Salicetti
“This complex rum has a beautiful smoky and funky aroma with tropical notes like banana peel that make it perfect for Tiki cocktails.”—Holguin
Mixing your cocktail