So here we are, the second to last post, and it’s all about the rich and powerful: Dark Rum…
Now we move onto the Dark rum and here is where it gets a little special, some of these rums are aged for nearly a decade and most come with a pretty special little story or two… From the Highly prized Goslings Black seal to the highly flammable overproof Plantation Rum here is my top 5 Tiki Dark Rums:
Goslings Black Seal (Bermuda) £21.15 – The Whisky Exchange
This brand of rum is one of the best dark rums on the market; its rich, well-balanced flavours make it an ideal choice for tiki cocktails and enjoying with your favourite mixer.
Interestingly the Dark N Stormy cocktail (at least in the USA, Caribbean, UK & most of Western Europe) can only be made with Goslings Black Seal Rum! This is the result of a trademark Goslings started filing back in the 1970’s.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Goslings were the first alcohol company to put in for, and get, a trademark for a cocktail. The trademark covers the use of the name ‘Dark N Stormy’ and regardless of the amount of lime or ginger beer used; the rum has to be Goslings Black Seal!
Bacardi Black (Cuba/Puerto Rico) £18-£20 – Sainsbury’s
Made in the Cuban style, but exiled to Puerto Rico; Bacardi Carta Negra (Black Rum) is a rich full-bodied dark rum that can hold its own against some of the best. Whilst the price would indicate its relative ‘cheapness’ when compared to some other brands, this rum is intended for the general use of mixing. Whilst it can be sipped, it’s best served in long drinks with cola or juice.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: I don’t like this rum neat. But I do love it in a Cuba Libre. Its dark-nature shines through in the rich taste and you don’t lose it when it’s mixed with Cola. Definitely worth the punt if you can’t afford the top end dark rums…
Plantation Overproof Dark Rum (73%) (Barbados) £35.65 – The Whisky Exchange
Like the honourable mention of Wray & Nephews white overproof rum in my first post, this dark rum is also overproof. If you’ve ever made, or had made for you, a cocktail called a ‘Zombie’ (made famous by the Don himself) then you’ll know that there is a requirement for overproof rum and for it to sit on the top of this drink. Its primary function is to burn and add a deep charred, burnt alcohol flavour to the drink. A worthwhile addition to any bar, home or public house; this rum is an excellent rum and perfect for advanced mixologists/bartenders…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: As with all alcohol one should be always be careful. However seeing as this alcohol is overproof (it’s 73% abv) it’s extremely flammable and should not, in any way, be underestimated or used lightly!
Ron Abuelo 12YO (Panama) £31.80 – The Drink Shop
Made from their home-grown sugar cane plantation, Abuelo 12 year old Anejo rum is soft, complex and character-full and can challenge even the most sophisticated of palates. Now some aficionados might argue that to mix rum of this quality would be heresy, I for one like my cocktails full of class. And this rum provides some serious weight in that category…
Clarkes Court – Special Dark Rum (Grenada) £27-30 The Drink Shop / The Whisky Exchange
Winner of 9 bronze/silver awards from 2002-2009 (as well as various gold medals) Clarkes Court Special Dark Rum is a 40% abv rum from the shores of Grenada. This dark rum is aged in ex-bourbon casks and is perfect for cocktails as it is considered to be a gentler style of rum; those preferring softer rum have a love for this particular bottle.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This particular rum is perfect for adding a little tweak to your tiki cocktails. Being of the softer variety of rums, this bottle will supply you with an easy to mix rum and help you develop your prowess, in regards to tiki cocktails at least…
So there you have it, my 5 top dark rums to use for you tiki cocktails. If you ever get a chance to nab a bottle or two off that list then I suggest you go ahead and give them a go! Just be extremely wary of the Plantation overproof 73%!!!
Is there a Dark rum you prefer that didn’t make my list? Why not leave a comment below with your choice? Although please understand that tomorrow I’ll be looking at spiced rums as the 4 section and therefore any ‘spiced’ dark rums will possibly be on that list!
The colour is the first thing you’ll notice – it’s not called gold for the fun of it after all!
Ok so I covered the basic white rums. There were a few brands (and countries) covered but now we move onto my favourite type of rum: Gold Rum.
This section should allow you to expand your rum styles, and your geography knowledge, a little further. With Gold rums from Venezuela to Cuba and across the entire Caribbean; there is sure to be a choice for everyone…
Diplomatico Anejo (Venezuela) £22.84 – The Drink Shop
This smooth-sipping golden rum is blended from a combination of continuous still rums and potstill rums. Although blended, the average age of the finished product is 4 years old. Diplomatico is a very strong brand from Venezuela and can hold its own in almost any rum-sipping competition (its various products have won various awards over the years) and yet it blends into tiki cocktails remarkably well.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: If you’re looking for a well-balanced, blended gold rum and want to try something other than Caribbean rum then I strongly suggest giving this brand, including this particular rum, a go!
Ron de Jeremy – Reserve Adult Rum! (Panama) £33.32 The Drink Shop
Ron de Jeremy is an extremely well-balanced 7 year old rum and is quite literally distilled by a living legend: Cuban Master Distiller Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. Don Pancho is 72 years old and is considered one of the most experienced and renowned master distillers in the rum industry.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is fantastic to sip, and will reward those with a well-developed palate. However it has been created in such a way that it will also mix well with other ingredients, especially when mixing cocktails.
Mount Gay – Eclipse (Barbados) £19.70 The Drink Shop
Another long standing favourite of mine, this reasonably price rum is one of the sleeper hits of the last few decades. Whilst all of the top-end rums clean up at awards ceremonies, this rather unassuming bottle sits itself on the supermarket shelf and literally sells by the bucket.
Those who have been to Barbados and visited the distillery will know its history well and even those not interested in rum will have heard of it whilst on the island.
Hand-crafted since 1703, Mount Gay Rum is made using the finest Barbados sugar cane and pure spring water. This leaves you with a rum that can be sipped neat and yet is equally, if not more so, at home combined with your favourite mixer…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: this rum is reasonably priced and found in most of the bigger supermarkets in the UK. Failing that you can find it easily in online alcohol shops.
Flor De Cana – 4YO Gold (Nicaragua) £22.68 The Drink Shop
Flor de Cana 4YO Golden Rum is a little something different. From central/south America this rum is well-balanced and perfect for combining with mixers and works brilliantly in light cocktails.
Palate notes: “A soft entry leads to a round, dry medium-bodiea palate with caramel, sugar cane and peppery spice flavours. Finishes with a dash of toasted coconut shavings and pepper. Very clean and pure.” – Flor De Cana.com
Appleton Estate Special (Jamaica) £14.00 – Sainsbury’s
The price tag on this rum may make you cringe and think ‘bargain basement’ but the idea here is to give you a cheaper option whilst making sure you get your money’s worth. Appleton Estate special Jamaica Rum is only £14 yes, but it’s an absolute bargain in regards to its taste and overall finish. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the other rums on this list, but its sheer versatility means it can be used in a range of tiki (and non-tiki) cocktails. And for that reason alone it makes the list…
White Rum is the foundation for any rum collection. It’s a base for literally hundreds of cocktails, not least some of the most famous cocktails of all time; The Pina Colada, Mojito & Daiquiri all contain this clear elixir!
White rum is distilled from the sugar cane plant and can be made using one of two methods: Pot still or continuous still. Some rums use a combination of the two, and all three types have their merits and come-downs.
Check out my list of what I consider to be 5 of the best white rums for use in tiki cocktails (all under £40 of course!)…
(1) St. Aubin – Rhum Agricole (Mauritius) £22 – The Drink Shop
In my first post about tiki cocktails I mentioned that the best rums to start with included rum from Martinique, Jamaica and, of course, a white rum. Well this Mauritian white rum is a perfect shoe-in if you’re unsure of which white rum to choose.
At 50%abv it’s a heavy hitter, but surprisingly it’s rather smooth and supple. It’s made with the freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, a very French way of making rhum, and is made at St. Aubin which has been a sugar plantation since 1819…
(2) Brugal Blanco (Dominican Republic) £20.85 – The Whisky Exchange
Brugal Blanco is a white rum all the way from the Dominican Republic. Its process includes ageing rum for 2-5 years in old American oak bourbon casks. The rum is then triple filtered, removing the colour, and that leaves you with a rum that’s as smooth as super-premium vodka but with all the character you get from premium rum. Basically it’s pretty darn good!
Fervent Insider Tip: Brugal is one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my go-to white rums for new exotic cocktails; its smoothness compliments the addition of various fruit juices and syrups perfectly.
(3) Havana Club Anejo 3 YO White Rum (Cuba) £15-£20 Sainsbury’s/Tesco
One of my long standing favourites, Havana club has a superb collection of rums, so much so that they could potentially be on all 4 of these posts, but alas the one I’ve chosen is arguably their most versatile Anejo rum: their 3yo Blanco. Found readily in your local supermarkets, this rum is a quick journey away from becoming part of your now-growing rum library!
Aged for 3 years in Cuba this light yet crisp rum is fantastic in those famous Cuban cocktails, but it also works miracles in classic tiki cocktails like the Pina Colada!
(4) Plantation Rum – Three Stars White Rum (Barbados) £22 – The Drink Shop
This is a well-balanced mildly vibrant rum, blending the finesse, character and fuller-flavours of all 3 historical rum producing islands: Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad. Its name ‘Plantation 3 Stars’ honours those 3 historical islands and stands as a signal to all who lay eyes on the bottle: This is premium…
Fervent Shaker insider tip: This rum is extremely sophisticated and works better with cocktails that allow the flavours of the rum to come out in the drink. So whilst the juices of some tiki cocktails are not always suited for this rum; cocktails like the Zombie and similar ‘shorter’ cocktails are perfect to make the most of this particular rum…
(5) La Mauny – Rhum Blanc (Martinique) £27 – The Drink Shop
This rum from Martinique, one of the countries mentioned in my first post, is a clear white and has a strong 50% abv. With this in mind it is one of the stronger rums on this list and is more suited to the fruit juice laden concoctions that make tiki cocktails so popular.
Fervent Shaker insider tip: Coming in at just under £30 this rum is a bit steep compared to supermarket brands and even some better known brands. But unlike a lot of things in this world, when it comes to Rum, as well as straight alcohol in general, you pay for what you get.
Honourable Mention: Wray & Nephews Overproof White rum (Jamaica) £26.00 – Sainsbury’s
This honourable mention is simply because I could not fit all of the rums I liked into the 5 slots I limited myself too. Tiki cocktails often invoke memories of that beach bar on that Caribbean island you never learned to pronounce, along with flames galore. Drinks on fire are usually gimmicky but sometimes this adds to the theatre of the bar world. With regards to tiki cocktails you need a spirit that combusts and yet will not damage the overall flavour of the drink. Enter Wray & Nephews. This high abv alcohol is perfect for this job as it is highly flammable – that means you can light it to give you your fiery theatrical gimmick whilst not altering the overall taste of the cocktail…
“The Cuba Libre requires Bacardi rum and Coca Colatm with ice and a wedge of fresh lime. Why? Because that’s how an original Cuba Libre has always been made – at least since 1900, when American soldiers on Neptuno Street, Havana, first persuaded a barman to mix his precious Bacardi rum with their tasty new beverage called Coca Cola” – Bacardi’s description of the Cuba Libre on their website. (http://www.bacardi.com/uk/Cocktails/BACARDI-Cuba-Libre)
The Cuba Libre has all the mysterious history you need from a classic cocktail and then some. Now I’m not saying it’s because of this that it’s actually considered a ‘classic cocktail’ but you have to admit the uncanny similarities to some of the other classics (Mojito, Martini, Margarita etc…).
The one thing that the Cuba Libre has in its favour though is its base spirit: Rum. Rum, as any well-to-do person will tell you, has a mysterious history all to its own. It just so happens that the Caribbean (that’s the collection of islands that includes Cuba would you know) is arguably the best place for premium quality rums anywhere in the world. Whether it’s the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Trinidad or even the ‘Rum King’ Island known as Barbados, the rum used in Cuba Libre’s has traditionally been of the best quality full stop (little wonder it’s become a classic then eh?).
So traditionally it was made using Coca Cola, a Premium quality CubanAnejoRum and a wedge of Lime to freshen the drink up a little. However recently (mainly due to the lack of any Cuban rum in my repertoire) I have been trying out different brands and styles of rum both to find my favourite, and also because it is a simple recipe to stick to and easy to tweak without destroying the original idea…
Of course there are many variations, more variations than the time I have to write them down for you, and some include different types/brands of rum. From the classic white(light) rums to the semi-aged golden and Aged ‘Dark’ rums of the Caribbean and even the spiced rums (Captain Morgan’s, Kraken etc.) which have become more and more popular over recent years here in the UK…
The last time I got paid (just after Christmas) I went out and stocked up on some quality rums that my local Sainsbury’s had on offer at the time (and I also got a bottle of Makers Mark, but that’s a story for another time)… The Rums purchased/received as presents were;
– Brugal Ron Anejo Rum £20-25 (I got it on offer for £16.99)
A Golden (semi-aged/aged) rum from the Dominican Republic; considered to be of a very high quality.
– Kraken Black Spiced Rum £18-23 (depending on store)
Imported from the USA, Kraken comes in a glorious pirate themed bottle and denotes a giant squid (hence the ‘Kraken’) on the label. It’s a high quality black spiced rum and it tastes magical, which is probably why it has gathered quite the cult following. This was a very well received present from my sister for Christmas.
– Bacardi Oakheart £18-19 (£12 – offer price when I got it)
My soul reason for buying this bottle of rum was the price. It was a mere £12 at the time (worked out around £10.80 after my discount) and I just could not pass that up (considering its usual RRP is around £18-19!!!)…
Also I was a little wary because whilst Bacardi is a quality product, I feared they had created something that might not work (needless to say I was very, very wrong!).
Anyway, back to the recipes;
So I tried a Cuba Libre using a 2-1 (Rum-Lime) ratio and topped up with a cola (Pepsi as it’s my favourite but feel free to change that to your favourite). Needless to say you do get 3 very different tasting drinks.
The Brugal Anejo Cuba Libre is as close as a Classic Cuba Libre these recipes got, purely in the way of geographical accuracy (Dominican Rep. is as close to the Havana Club style Anejo I have) and I imagine it’s similar in tastes to a classic Cuba Libre too. Whilst not the best when mixed with Pepsi, if you use Coca Cola like the classic recipe requests, it becomes sublime. And as a classic Cuba Libre (if you don’t have any Cuban rum) then this is the recipe I suggest you use!
The Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre was a standout favourite among my friends and family, with its smooth taste blending with the lime and Pepsi better (in their opinion anyway) than the Brugal Ron Anejo. The Bacardi was obviously made for cocktail mixing; such is the way with their other rum products.
The Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre, after a few tries, was my personal standout recipe. Purely for the thick, almost syrupy taste it brings to the drink. The Lime juice, when freshly squeezed, cuts through the nasty aftertaste of the alcohol (that horrible kick you get that can spoil a drink) allowing you to pile in 2 measures without thought, and the Pepsi brought out the Spiced notes perfectly and made sure they were there in the background, but not too overpowering.
In my opinion the Kraken Rum brought something extra to the Pepsi recipes that the others simply did not have: a thick almost syrupy, spice texture that when cut with the fresh lime juice created this sensation of pure bliss; that something a little bit special.
Now don’t mistake my gushing for naivety. I know that the classic Cuban rum recipe will always be the classic Cuba Libre, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but what I am saying is that If you want something a little special and a bit of a taste-treat in the disguise of a Cuba Libre; then Kraken Black Spiced Rum is your poison of choice. Trust me you will not regret it.
– Always use freshly squeezed lime juice. Lime cordial is never a replacement at the best of times, and especially not here. It is too sweet and doesn’t help balance out the rum. Don’t expect the taste to be that good if you do use it. Having said that, if you have no choice try to use a little less rum so you don’t overpower the drink.
– These rums were used purely because they were accessible at the time I tried them. So whilst I am raving about the Kraken Rum here, it is very likely you will disagree. Please don’t hate me for ignoring your favourite rum; that is not the intention. It was simply MY favourite of the 3!
Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Coke)
2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum
1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*
Top up Coca Cola
Brugal Ron Anejo Cuba Libre (Pepsi)
2 measures Brugal Ron Anejo Rum
1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice
Top up Pepsi
Bacardi Oakheart Cuba Libre
2 measures Bacardi Oakheart
1 measure freshly squeezed lime juice*
Top up Pepsi
Kraken Black Spiced Cuba Libre
2 measures Kraken Black Spiced Rum
1 measure freshly squeezed lime Juice*
Top up Pepsi
*this is equivalent to around 1 small lime being around 25ml
Now as a slight addition to this post, one I did not intend I might add, will be in relation to the fact that whilst in the process of writing this post; I was again paid.
This payday I invested in a rather well-known brand of Cuban Rum, mainly to test out the theory of ‘Cuban rum for a Cuba Libre is better’ and also because I love it. That’s right ladies and gents; Havana Club 3yo white rum.
Now normally I would keep this sort of information to myself, but seeing as it was mainly to try a proper Cuba Libre Recipe out, I thought it best to add. The recipe I used was a 2:1 ratio (the same as the above recipes) only I added the lime juice to the glass first (following Havana Club guidelines).
And can I just say, from the above recipes, Brugal & Coca Cola was my favourite (not including the Kraken & Pepsi recipe), but this Havana Libre I made up, was on another level… It is very strange, but the flavour of the Havana Club comes through the cola perfectly, so you taste the rums flavour, but without the painful bite of the alcohol (thank the lime juice for that).
So I suppose to summarise I just have to leave you with this bit of advice: Cocktail recipes can be fluid. You make them to your own tastes. And sometimes you may want a spiced rum, sometimes you want a white. But if you ever have a Cuba Libre, try it first with the Havana Club 3yo, create a Cuba Libre the way it was intended and then, if you want to, experiment with other rums. You’ll find that this classic recipe is just that: a classic. You may find you prefer a spiced version, or even the taste of black rum. But no matter what you try you cannot beat the Cuban Anejo rum recipe. It’s just one of those things… Like gravity or the short life of a turkey; it’s inevitable.