Rum mixes well with cola and ginger beer, but all too often tonic is completely overlooked. The bitter quinine in tonic can foil the molasses-based spirit’s sweetness, while the mixer’s botanicals are a flavor match for the layered richness of aged expressions. These recipes start with the basic building blocks and add in coffee, garnishes and citrus. So let’s give gin a vacation day and make this the summer of the R&T.
Elana Abt, the wine director at Otto in New York City, wanted to add a rum-based cocktail to the menu but keep the classic gin refresher in mind. “Rum just feels like summer, and my guests typically order more rum cocktails this time of year,” she says. “I thought, Why not create a cool rum version of the classic G&T.’”
"I love a Rum & Tonic during the summer,” says Ashwin Vikhu, the co-owner of Saffron in New Orleans. “It’s a great alternative to a G&T because it’s light and refreshing all the while having depth of flavor." This drink is served Spanish-style in a large wine goblet, garnished with a lot of the ingredients whose aromas and flavors either compliment or coax out those in the rum.
An avid coffee geek, Daniel Moik, the head bartender at Yours Truly in Hamilton, Bermuda, has had his fair share of Espresso & Tonics, which was the starting point for this cocktail. The rum has a butterscotch and vanilla note but finishes dry. Maple syrup adds sweetness, Angostura bitters lend complexity, and orange zest matches the tonic’s citrus notes. “A Rum & Tonic is like the two friends you have and you can’t figure out why they’re so close until you really spend time with them,” he says. “This drink is a great summertime pick-me-up as the sun is setting and you need that little boost to keep the party going.”