If you’re an Old Fashioned purist who scoffs at the notion of muddling a cherry and orange wedge along with sugar, water, bitters and whiskey, you might want to avert your eyes from these drinks. But if you’re more open-minded about the classics, hear us out: Aged rum can be way better than bourbon or rye in the Old Fashioned. It often plays nicer, and provides more contrast, to the drink’s other flavors than grain- or corn-based booze ever could. But don’t take our word for it. These are five Rum Old Fashioneds that will make you a believer.
Bangalore Old Fashioned
Inspired by the ingredients traded along the old spice routes in India and Sri Lanka, the best-selling cocktail at San Jose and San Mateo, Calif.’s Mortar & Pestle Bar, by beverage director Lucas England, balances the spicy and the lightly sweet. “Swapping in rum for whiskey in an Old Fashioned is a great way to surprise guests with warm, spiced flavors,” says England. “If the rum is overproof, it can be softened with sugar syrups or bitters.”
Autumn Rum Old Fashioned
The staff at Kansas City, Mo.’s Julep Cocktail Club wanted a seasonal take on the classic Old Fashioned that emphasized some of fall’s favorite flavors and ingredients. This recipe from co-owner and bar manager Beau Williams uses Barbadian rum, which lightens the drink, and apple cider syrup for added sweetness. Bonus: The syrup can be further reduced and drizzled over everything from warm apple pie a la mode and coffee cake to pancakes and waffles.
Freehand Old Fashioned
Bartender Jason Kilgore created this Old Fashioned variant at The Hawthorne in Boston, in honor of the Freehand hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., that’s home to the Broken Shaker bar. “All spirits have a place in the Old Fashioned because it’s, in truth, the simplest and first cocktail ever mixed,” says Jackson Cannon, the co-owner and bar director of The Hawthorne. “Saying ‘I’ll have the Old Fashioned whiskey cocktail’ would have been a phrase used in the Golden Age in New York City bars, and the term stuck through the 20th century.”
At The Patterson House in Nashville, Strategic Hospitality beverage director Matthew Tocco wanted to make a version of the Toronto cocktail that swapped out Canadian whisky for aged rum. "Rum is a product that comes from sugar, so pairing it with sugar makes sense,” he says. “A lot of people associate rum with sweet, fruity drinks, but there are a lot of different ways you can apply it.”Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Expense of Honesty
Admittedly, Tocco says guests are less apt to order a cocktail if it has rum or brandy as a base, so he paired this drink at Nashville’s Pinewood Social with bourbon to make it a tad more accessible. (He actually found the Arehucas Ron Miel Guanche rum from the Canary Islands sitting on on a desk at a distributor’s office and thought it would be a great addition to the libation. “[Rum is] a fun category to taste and find one that’s best for your palate," he says.