Rum is the people’s spirit. Whether you like the funky, grassy flavors of agricole or the sweet, earthy goodness of spiced rum, there’s an expression for you—and a drink to match. These are the nine rum cocktails to drink in bars now.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great rum drinks? Try making the Mutual Friend from this list at home.
On paper, Hell or High Water may seem like another subterranean speakeasy, but in fact it’s a romantic, multiroom escape marked by red velvet booths, old radios and a lofty library sporting window seats overlooking the lounge below. Doug Petry crafts drinks using local purveyors like Quills Coffee and has a deft hand with rum. Take the Mutual Friend, a showcase of Plantation Barbados five-year-old rum and Galliano ristretto espresso liqueur, given a tart, bright contrast with lime and pineapple.
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A complete remodel at Mission District concert venue The Chapel resulted in the new Curio, opened in June with Southern-influenced food from chef Mario Tolentino. Bar vet Darren Crawford crafted a drink menu to please a range of concertgoers or those visiting just for a drink and food. The Phoenix cocktail combines George Dickel rye whiskey, mezcal, Green Chartreuse and curaçao, tinged with vanilla, ghost peppers and mole bitters and slowly dissolving to black over an activated charcoal ice cube. The drink’s secret weapon is a touch of Jamaican funk from Smith & Cross rum and a dusting of black Cypress sea salt.
The Patterson House exudes romance and ease downstairs from Nashville’s casual fine-dining great, The Catbird Seat. Pull up to the wraparound bar or get cozy in a booth and let the friendly bar staff take care of you. The Piracy Funds Terrorism cocktail was inspired by a classic Paper Plane, featuring the dry cinnamon-forward Cardinal Spirits Lake House spiced rum, brightened with pineapple, orange, Aperol, Marie Brizard crème de cacao and shaved nutmeg.
Sen Sakana is a sleek Midtowner serving tiradito (Peruvian sashimi/crudo), ceviche, robata-grilled skewers and sushi in a space marked by subtle purples, blues and pinks. Beverage director and sommelier Zachary Gross calls on Peruvian pisco in the cocktail menu, infusing it with a range of ingredients, including lemongrass or bonito flakes. The Purple Rain starts with a base of Diplomático dark rum and the great spiced purple corn juice of Peru, chicha morada. After an aromatic anise hit on the nose from a spray of absinthe, the palate unfolds with the cinnamon and allspice kick of Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters and subtle, floral lavender.
Hello Stranger hit downtown Oakland in June but already feels like a neighborhood party with its massive backlit bar, mezzanine and DJ station. The brick-walled 1907 building is a comfortable space to knock back easy-drinking cocktails, wine and beer. On the cocktail menu, the Wanderlust is bracing yet breezy, featuring Zacapa rum, pineapple and lime with a kick of cold-brew coffee and smoked salt adding savory, earthy notes.
A Vancouver cocktail pioneer since 2009, The Diamond rolls out nigiri, sushi and teriyaki in a dim, seductive upstairs space. Historically, its cocktails are a bit more ambitious, and they’re still the draw in this date-night-worthy, wood-and-brick-lined bar. The Midtown Apple showcases a blend of Havana Club rum, amontillado sherry and Calvados with a touch of sweet maple syrup, given a whisper of anise from pastis.
Chicago’s Tiki staple since 2013, Three Dots and a Dash is currently helmed by beverage director Kevin Beary (formerly of Jose Garces’ Rural Society and NoMI). Naturally, rum is the star here, including the grassy rhum agricole. The Intro to Agricole shows off the namesake spirit, the fresh sugar cane rhum of the island of Martinique, turned refreshing and tart with watermelon, starfruit, lime and pineapple.
This bustling neighborhood bar turns out upscale bar bites like local sea urchin over crispy rice, cucumber and crab, alongside an irresistible ground bodega “burger” served in a long bun. Bar manager Jacob Racusin’s Banana Hammock is served in a coconut, combining Hamilton and Plantation three-year-old rums with fresh coconut water, salted banana and a curry leaf.
The suburbs of St. Louis are not where one would expect to find a James Beard award semifinalist chef’s latest venture. But Maplewood is where Ben Poremba (also of modern Mexican restaurant Nixta) opened The Benevolent King, serving inspired Moroccan food and beverage director Tony Saputo’s equally inspired cocktails. The Ali’i cocktail is a Tiki/rum dream by way of Morocco, a blend of Plantation 3 Stars, Lemon Hart 151 and El Dorado eight-year-old rums with Kronan Swedish punsch, milk kefir, orange-infused curaçao, pineapple, lime, Angostura bitters and fig liqueur. The robust kick of rum and spice from the punsch and bitters turns soft and sweet with milk and fig, balanced by citrus and pineapple.
Mixing your cocktail