The Best Thing About Rum? You Can Mix It With Other Rums.
Two or three different rums in a drink? Not a problem, say our rum experts.
Even the most complex cocktail will often stick to one base spirit, even if it utilizes an alcoholic add-on like a vermouth or amaro.
The exception, however, is rum. Several tiki drinks are built off of two or even three rums, often from different countries and offering very different flavor profiles.
It’s an anomaly in the drinks world.
“Very few cocktails use different types of whiskey or tequila together in one drink,” as Ian Burrell, a rum ambassador and the co-founder of Equiano Rum, tells us. “But many cocktails will use multiple styles of rum.” The reason? While many people think of rums as similar (even from different parts of the world), the spirit is incredibly diverse — and bartenders know how to work with those different flavors together.
Burrell’s Equiano is actually a good example of how disparate rums can work together even before they get into your mixed drink; the direct-to-consumer brand is a collaboration of African and Caribbean rum distilleries.
Historically, when it comes to cocktails, rum-based drinks have had no problems traversing regions, countries and styles when doubling up. “It was Donn Beach [the man behind the early tiki bar Don the Beachcomber] who said ‘why use one rum when you can use three?’ And those were drinks he was making in the 1930s,” says Burrell.
“The deeper oils and esters of longer-aged rums add so much goodness to cocktails but can also quickly take center stage,” adds Karen Hoskin, Founder/Owner of the Colorado-based Montanya Distillers (which, along with Equiano, is on our list of world’s most interesting rums). “We love to use a touch of our oldest rums layered onto our younger rums to create the ideal balance.”
Rum-based cocktails using more than one style of rum usually do so to accentuate the depth of flavor that each rum brings to the drink,” notes Roberto Berdecía, co-owner of the Puerto Rico cocktail bar (and World’s 50 Best Bars mainstay) La Factoria. “Each style of rum adds uniqueness to the flavor of the cocktail, lending distinct levels of complexity. Depending on the color of the rum, its age, and its various potential infusions, the drink’s flavor can be affected drastically.”
So, how to mix your rums? You could, for example, take a light rum from Puerto Rico and add something with a bit more depth and funk from, say, Jamaica, and suddenly you have a rum cocktail with layers of complexity. Burrell suggests you take your classic daiquiri and split the rum as follows: 1.5 oz of a light rum from Puerto Rico, and a half ounce of Wray & Nephew overproof from Jamaica. “You get the aromas and floral notes of the Jamaican rum but not that kick in the groin of a 126 proof rum,” says Burrell.
Interestingly, Berdecía is a bit more hesitant on mixing up rum styles. “Typically, I don’t recommend mixing different styles of rum. However, if mixing a cocktail using more than one style of rum, choose varieties that compliment and elevate each other by focusing on the tasting notes of each,” he says.
So if you’re going to experiment at home, the idea is actually to find two rums that offer contrasting or unique flavors that’ll each bring something to the table. And don’t be afraid to move beyond rum if your experiments work out.
“The global ambassador for Tanqueray, Angus Winchester, and New York bartender Brian Miller once used three types of gin — a London dry, an overproof navy and one other — in a tropical drink they collaborated on, and it was delicious,” says Burrell. “If you look at whiskey, why can’t you make an Old Fashioned with a straight bourbon but maybe a quarter ounce of Laphroaig to give it a bit of smoke? Maybe it’s time for something like whiskey to take its cue from rum, not the other way around.”
Agreed. Almost any good tiki drink is going to employ a few different rums, but if you want something simple to test out, try out the recipes from some of our interviewees below:
By Ian Burrell
1.5 oz Equiano Light
0.5 oz J Wray & Nephew Overproof rum
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Shake very hard with plenty of ice, and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel.
Via Montanya Distillers
Muddle in a Shaker:
3/4 cup ice
3 lemon wheels
10 mint leaves
1 oz Montanya Platino
1.5 oz Montanya Oro
.5 oz honey
Shake and pour (don’t strain) into glass. Add a splash of soda and garnish with a lemon wheel, a few drops of angostura bitters and a mint leaf.
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