Tag Archives: Dominican Republic

Rum Diarys: Best rums for tiki cocktails Part II

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

Hitting hard of the bat, this 50% rum is a sucker-punch if you're not careful...
Hitting hard of the bat, this 50% rum is a sucker-punch if you’re not careful…

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

A fine looking bottle for a fine tasting white rum from Brugal (Venezuela)
A fine looking bottle for a fine tasting white rum from Brugal (Venezuela)

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

Havana club are one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my all-time favourite white rums...
Havana club are one of my favourite rum brands and this is one of my all-time favourite white rums…

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

I have one of these in post as we speak. It's a great silver-rated blended white rum...
I have one of these in post as we speak. It’s a great silver-rated blended white rum…

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

A fancy Martinique rum in a simple bottle. Don't let its subtlety fool you, this rum is class through and through...
A fancy Martinique rum in a simple bottle. Don’t let its subtlety fool you, this rum is class through and through…

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

Strong and, from personal experience, not a nice straight. But fantastic for adding a little theatre to your cocktails...
Strong and, from personal experience, not a nice straight. But fantastic for adding a little theatre to your cocktails…

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 Drink Shop

The Whisky Exchange

St. Aubin

Havana Club




Wray & Nephews


Anejo Highball – The Caribbean … but with a twist!

A dry but slightly sweet drink, the Anejo Highball is a classic in the making…

The Anejo Highball is not so much a celebrated classic as it is a modified masterpiece. The original recipe comes from “insert creators name here” and has become a house cocktail in their bar. The thing is, this cocktail is better shared than kept for that bar (sorry “name”)… The recipe is a combination of a wonderfully aged ‘Anejo’ Rum, fresh lime juice and ginger beer (with a few dashes of angostura bitters)… And it is as flavoursome as it is simple to make.

For purely experimental reasons I tried this drink, firstly with freshly squeezed lime juice (DIY – it’s really not that hard to do yourself) and secondly with Roses Lime Cordial… Needless to say, Lime cordial is 100% a bad choice. The job of the lime in this drink is to cut through the rum and help layer out the flavours. By using lime cordial you take away the limes capability and end up with an overly sweet unbalanced mixture.

The layers this drink supplies are held together by the lime (without question) but the potency comes purely from the Anejo rum. I used a brand called ‘Brugal’, from the Dominican Republic and of high quality, this rum was a recent addition to my collection and has been a relatively new addition to my local Sainsbury’s (supermarket not convenience) spirit selection (among many others that will feature in this and future blogs).

The thing to remember about cocktails is that they delicately balanced. Too much of any one of the ingredients and the drink be transforms into something nobody wants to consume.

With this in mind, a few things to remember about the Anejo highball are as follows:

–          Lime Juice – Use freshly squeezed (see above for details)

–          Ginger beer – use because it is lighter and smoother than ginger ale and works better with the rum.

–          Angostura Bitters: the drink calls for 2 dashes but if like me you like a little more bitter in your drink up the does to around 3 / 4 dashes.

–          Triple Sec – using Cointreau is a possibility if you don’t have triple sec available, but the where possible use a standard triple sec or ‘dry’ curacao (No coloured versions please – leave your blue curacao in the cupboard for Woo Woo’s and grease lightning’s).

–          Anejo Rum – Always, without fail, use Anejo Rum – It’s in the name after all!

Orange curacao is made by many companies, the most commonly available are shown here…

Overall this drink caters for those of you who prefer a cocktail on the more bitter edge of the taste experience (also you kind of need to like ginger beer – replacing it with other sodas generally does not work).

I used Ron Brugal Anejo Rum (shown here) but any Caribbean Anejo Rum will suffice. Find one that suits your tastes…


Anejo Highball

1.5 measures Anejo Rum

½ measure fresh lime juice

½ measure dry curacao/triple sec liqueur

2-4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Top up with Ginger Beer

Lime/orange wheel slices to garnish.

The Cuba Libre – A classic cocktail for the new era.

 “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)

Old Havana Skyline, taken by Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Gabriel Rodríguez.

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?).

The Recipe:

So traditionally it was made using Coca Cola, a Premium quality Cuban Anejo Rum 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…

As you can see it keeps to the simple and balanced nature of the classic cocktail, but also packs a great taste (just try it if you don’t believe me)…

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.

Always use fresh lime juice where possible. It is far superior to any lime cordial in every way.

–          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).

Havana Nights: Cuba is the birthplace of the Cuba Libre and Cuban Rum should always be your first stop…

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.