Ernest Hemingway may have extolled the virtues of rum to a certain Russian translator and slighter of bottles when he wrote, "Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does?" yet plenty who do love the bottle staunchly avoid the rum. Advocates of crisp, effervescent cocktails like the gin Rickey or the bracing clarity of a martini may balk from the brooding sweetness associated with rum drinks, and, at first glance, the spirit conjures visions of sticky cocktail umbrellas and bad pirate-themed décor. But it only takes fresh ingredients to deliver rum from base connotations and a cloying profile.
Achieving a cocktail to reprogram the anti-rum crowd begins with a quality spirit. Aged rum is something to try neat, but the smoothness of a mature drink, like Haitian Rhum Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale, works to remove the saccharine notes and aggressive spice of lesser rums. Combine that smooth-drinking rum with limited, fresh ingredients to balance out the spirit’s natural sweetness and spice, replacing syrups and mixers that will add sugars, and creating a minimalist but enhanced experience to change the mind of a skeptic.
Here are some modified versions of rum favorites.
White Rum Punch
- 2 cups white rum
- 2 cups fresh pomegranate juice
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 cups fresh pineapple juice
- 2 cups fresh orange juice
- Zest from half an orange
Mix ingredients in a punch bowl and chill before serving in glasses.
Rum and Black
- 5 blackberries
- Wedge of lime
- 2 ounces dark rum
- Muddle blackberries and lime wedge in a shaker. Add ice and rum.
- Shake and pour over ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Serve with a twist of lime.
Rum and Coconut
Prepare in Advance: Fill an ice sphere mold with coconut water and freeze until solid.
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 2 ounces dark rum
- Pour lime juice and rum over coconut water ice sphere in an Old Fashioned glass.
- Allow the ice sphere to melt some before sipping.