White rum, black rum, spiced rum - trying to wade through hundreds of rum options, flavors, and cocktails can seem daunting enough to deter a pirate, but don’t worry. August 16th is National Rum Day, and we’ve compiled a list of ten delicious, easy-to-make rum recipes to help celebrate the day in true pirate fashion.

Rum is a sweet, versatile spirit made from fermenting and distilling sugarcane. The distillate is then aged in oak barrels to varying degrees, depending on whether the rum is white/light, spiced, or dark. White (or light) rum is aged the least, resulting in a clear, light-bodied liquor. Gold rum is aged slightly longer, although not enough to drastically affect the flavor. Spiced rum is aged, then cloves, peppercorn, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice are added. Black (or dark) rum is aged the longest, resulting in a dark color and rich, molasses-y flavor.

Sparkling Mai Tai

Frosty cold mai tai

Boasting tropical flavors and two different kinds of rum, this fruity cocktail supposedly depleted the world’s supply of rum due to its raging popularity after its invention in 1944. Legend has it that the Vicor J. Bergeron (of Trader Vic’s fame) presented the tasty concoction to his visiting Tahitian friends. Upon tasting the drink, they exclaimed, “Maita’i roa a’e,” which translates roughly to “out of this world! The best!”

Bergeron originally used a 17-year, medium-bodied rum to cut through the sweeter flavors of simple syrup and orange curacao. We’ve changed up his original recipe by adding a refreshing splash of prosecco, allowing the bubbles to add some bite to this fruity bar staple.

  • 1.5 oz spiced rum
  • 1.5 oz coconut rum
  • 1 tsp grenadine
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 3 oz prosecco

Add all the ingredients except ice and prosecco to a shaker. Shake, then add the prosecco before pouring over ice. Or, skip the shaker and pour ingredients into a glass over ice and stir.

Dark and Stormy

Dark and stormy cocktail with lime

The unofficial drink of Bermuda and the international boating community, the Dark and Stormy offers a spicy mix of ginger beer, lime, and rich, molasses-heavy black rum. The cocktail is said to have gotten its name from a sailor’s comparison of the drink’s murky hue to storm clouds over the water. Whether that’s true or another rum-fueled legend is unknown, but its connection to the joys and dangers of seafaring is undeniable.

  • 2 oz. Gosling Black Seal rum
  • 4-5 oz. ginger beer (optional: try ginger ale for a sweeter, less spicy version)
  • Lime garnish

Mix ingredients in a glass over ice and stir. Add lime garnish.

Basil and Cucumber Mojito

The Mojito, much like the Mai Tai, has earned its place as a light rum staple - even earning the title of Most Popular Cocktail in 2013. The minty beverage was purportedly used as a medicinal tincture to ward off disease on the island of Cuba before Pirate Drake adopted it as his signature drink, replacing the original Cuban moonshine with rum.

Not a mint fan? No problem. This particular recipe skips the mint and uses basil and cucumber to offset the sweetness of the light rum. If you were looking for a way to use up those cucumbers growing in your garden (or your neighbor’s) in unfathomable quantities, here it is.

  • 3 slices ¼”-thick cucumber
  • 8 leaves basil (or more to taste)
  • 2 slices ¼”-thick lime slices
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • 2 raw sugar cubes
  • Splash of club soda
  • Cucumber wedge and basil sprig for garnish (optional)

Muddle cucumber, basil, lime, rum, and sugar in a cocktail shaker until the sugar cubes dissolve completely. Add ice, place the lid onto shaker, and shake vigorously. Pour into a glass over ice and garnish if desired.

Hemingway Daquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri with key ingredients (simple syrup, pink grapefruit, Cuban rum, Maraschino liqueur, lime

As the midcentury novelist Ernest Hemingway once said, “don’t bother with churches, government buildings, or city squares. If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.” Hemingway lived by this ethos, frequently visiting El Floridita for a stiff drink during his time in Cuba. Legend has it that Hemingway was on his way to the bathroom when he saw a bartender making a round of sugary frozen daiquiris. He asked to try one, the bartender obliged, and after a few sips, Hemingway says, “that’s good, but I’d prefer it without the sugar...and double the rum.”

Thus, the Hemingway Daiquiri or Papa Doble was born. This cocktail is not for the faint of heart, with a robust alcoholic bite and very little sugar to soften the blow. But hey, we’re not judging. If you like them strong, try this one on for size.

  • 2 oz. white rum
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • .5 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled, or combine into a glass with ice and stir. Add a lime wedge for garnish if desired.

Cranberry Crush

Cranberry cocktail with ice and lemon
Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Trade in your run-of-the-mill vodka cran for a tangy and sweet Cranberry Crush. Homemade cranberry syrup and spiced rum combine to make a tart, refreshing drink as fitting for the dog days of summer as it is the chilly nights of December. Substitute regular cranberry juice in place of the cranberry syrup to make this cocktail even easier to make (it was going to be easy to drink either way).

  • 1 ½ C cranberries, frozen or fresh
  • ¾ C sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 2 oz. cranberry syrup or cranberry juice
  • 1.5 oz. spiced rum
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • .5 oz. triple sec
  • Orange or lemon slice for garnish

Combine sugar, water, and cranberries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain into an airtight jar to remove cranberry chunks. This cranberry syrup will last up to a week in the refrigerator.

Combine cranberry syrup/juice, rum, vodka, orange juice, and triple sec in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and pour over ice. Garnish with orange or lemon if desired.

Rum Runner

Pinkish rum drink
Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Another tiki classic, the Rum Runner is a delicious blend of fruity liqueurs and two different types of rum. Created in a Floridian bar in the 1950s, this catch-all drink allowed the restaurant to move excess rum and sweet liqueurs off the shelf before the new inventory arrived. Do you remember that time you bought a bottle of Creme de Banana on an experimental whim and never used it again? Us, too. Here’s your chance to let those random, will-I-ever-really-use-this liqueurs shine.

  • 1.5 oz. light rum
  • 1.5 oz. spiced rum
  • 1 oz. banana liqueur
  • 1 oz. blackberry liqueur
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • Splash of grenadine

Combine ingredients in a glass with ice and stir.

Air Mail

Sparkling beverage in champagne flute

Master bartender W.C. Whitfield first mentioned Air Mail in his cocktail guide, Here’s How, Mixed Drinks. Meant to “take you to the sky,” Air Mail combines the smooth sweetness of white rum, honey, lime, and a splash of champagne. The acid of the lime and champagne of the bubbles cut through the syrupy sweetness of the rum and honey, making it a uniquely well-rounded and classy drink to whip up at your next soiree.

  • 1.5 oz. white rum
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. honey syrup
  • 3-4 oz. champagne
  • Lime twist to garnish

Mix rum, lime juice, and honey in a glass with ice. Pour champagne over mixture to the top. Garnish with a lime twist if desired.

Monkey Wrench

Frosty pink beverage with garnish

Earning its namesake for its customizable strength level, the monkey wrench is a lip-puckering cocktail of tart and bitter flavors. The Monkey Wrench can be made as strong or as weak as you like, garnished with maraschino cherries or extra grapefruit slices. No matter how you make it, this drink is simple, refreshing, and delicious.

  • 1.5 oz. white rum
  • 4-5 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 2-3 dashes of angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry or grapefruit slice for garnish

Combine rum, juice, and bitters in shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Pour into an old fashioned glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry or grapefruit slice, if desired.

Butterbeer

Warm dessert cocktail

Technically, National Rum Day falls in August, which is still summer. But let’s be honest - August is basically pre-fall. If you’re itching for cooler weather, skip the tropical treats and try this Crock Pot butterbeer recipe full of spiced rum, smooth vanilla, and wintry spices. Coined in the Harry Potter series as a popular wizarding beverage “a little bit less-sickly than butterscotch,” this warm cocktail is an alcoholic dessert in a glass. Knowledge of your Hogwarts house not necessary.

Homemade Rumchata

Glass of rumchata with ice

Another option for warm drink lovers: homemade rumchata (horchata with rum). Horchata is a traditional Mexican beverage made from warm rice milk and sweetened with cinnamon and granulated sugar. There’s a pre-made boozy version you can buy off the shelf, but if you’re looking to get the full experience and save a few pennies, try making it from home.

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