Rum is experiencing a true Golden Age, with new expressions being released at every turn, cocktail creativity through the roof and greater consideration for provenance and classification. It’s the perfect spirit: Satisfying to sip on its own, easy to top with a straightforward mixer, or the base for a myriad of complex cocktails. Isn’t it time you upped your own rum game?
Whether you’re new to the world of rum or looking to make a few overdue upgrades to your personal stash, chances are you could use an expert’s advice. Enter Kenneth McCoy, the chief creative officer of Public House Collective and a founding partner of the group’s New York City bars, including The Rum House and Ward III, where he lords over a rum list 100-bottles deep. That’s probably a bit steep for your purposes, so we asked him to whittle down the list to five.
Get ready for rum nirvana with these essential bottles for your home bar.
Choosing the right rum means thinking carefully about which cocktails you want to make, and for McCoy, that makes this bottle a natural pick. “Brugal Extra Dry is perfect for the Mojitos and Daiquiris you’ll be shaking for all of your house parties,” he says. It’s perfect for simple drinks in which the right rum can shine through and elevate the whole. “This bottle is dry with some citrus, and it’s also great when you just need a Rum & Coke!”
Continuing in his plan-first-for-cocktails approach, McCoy considers Gosling’s a must-have. “Because you’re going to have to make a Dark ’N Stormy,” he says. “And this is an essential ingredient for that drink.” While the typical recipe calls for ginger beer, McCoy suggests using fresh pressed ginger—a quarter ounce will be more than enough. He adds lime, simple or demerara syrup, and sparkling water, enlivening the classic in a new way.
“This is the original golden amber rum—toasty, banana, spice,” says McCoy. “Mount Gay Eclipse makes a great, refreshing drink with some ginger beer.” So, if you went fresh ginger with the Gosling’s above, you can break out the ginger beer now. “It also works great in an Old Cuban,” he says. The cult-favorite cocktail combines mint, lime and simple syrup with a hefty topper of Champagne.
“Overproofed and coming in at almost 140 proof (69% ABV), it's like drinking a rich leather bag that has been sitting in the sun maturing for years,” McCoy says of this bottle, which captivated rum drinkers when it was first released in 2016. “Who knew leather would drink so good? It’s great alone or with a cube,” he adds, and recommends using it in a Mai Tai or Planter’s Punch.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Santa Teresa 1796 Solera ($50)
First released in 1996 to celebrate the brand’s bicentennial, the Venezuelan rum has since made its way stateside and thankfully so. “It’s my all-around favorite for everything,” says McCoy. “Dry, clean and irresistible, it makes a fabulous Daiquiri or Rum Old Fashioned.” But why stop there? “You can have it neat or on the rocks,” he says. “It’s my go-to.” Add it to your home bar, and it may become yours.