Are these the 10 best rum drinks of all time?

Story by Sam Bygrave
Hunter S. Thompson once wrote about the promise of a Puerto Rican morning: “There is something fresh and crisp about the first hours of a Caribbean day, a happy anticipation that something is about to happen, maybe just up the street or around the next corner.”

I’ve got to say, I feel much the same about the arrival of September and Sydney Bar Week. I remember the old BarShow at the now-demolished Wharf 8 and being greeted with the first hints that summer — and all the promise it brings — was rising just beyond the horizon. They were heady days, made all the more exciting with a cocktail in hand (heck, is there a better time for a Pina Colada?), some good friends, perhaps a bottle of rum.

With that in mind we wanted to capture some of the greatest rum drinks with which to welcome the change in weather— we posed the question to bartenders on Facebook, and here’s what you came back with — in no particular order.

(Big thanks to Rachel Merritt and Sydney bar Kittyhawk for whipping up the drinks!)

Pina Colada


Pina Colada

Yes, drinking from a pineapple is a little — OK, very — ostentatious. But there was never a drink for which a pineapple as vessel was more appropriate than the oft-maligned yet enduring (and, when made correctly, delicious) Pina Colada.

All you need is great rum, freshly strained pineapple juice, and — let’s not skimp on this last ingredient— Coco Lopez.

Pina Colada recipe
60ml Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
60ml strained pineapple juice
60ml Coco Lopez

Blend with ice. Pour into a hollowed out pineapple.


Old Cuban

The Old Cuban was created by Audrey Saunders in the early 2000s, so it’s more modern classic than ancient relic, but it’s gained popularity across the drinking world because it’s a damn fine variation on the Mojito.

Old Cuban recipe
45ml Bacardi 8
30ml sugar syrup
30ml fresh lime juice
2 Mint sprigs (one for garnish)
Angostura Bitters 2 dashes
Champagne to top

Add your lime juice and sugar to your shaker then stir to dissolve. Press one sprig of mint in the bottom of the shaker, add your rum, bitters and ice then shake vigorously. Double strain into a chilled coupette, top with champagne and garnish with a mint leaf.


The Daiquiri

We’re quite confident in stating that the Daiquiri is the Greatest Rum Drink of All Time. Like a great blues song the strictures of the form — it has but three parts — have inspired some delicious riffs, and it’s one drink by which to judge a bartender. We’re still searching for the Perfect Daiquiri. Here’s hoping it’s a search that will never end.

Daiquiri recipe
60ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
30ml freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons of caster sugar

Add sugar, freshly squeezed lime juice and your Bacardi Carta Blanca to a cocktail shaker. Stir briefly to dissolve sugar, add both crushed and cubed ice then shake with extreme prejudice and a winning smile. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Hotel Nacional

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba was a glamourous hotel in Cuba, frequented by the likes of Ava Gardner and
Frank Sinatra (old mate Hemingway likely made an appearance too).

Their signature cocktail was created some time in the 1930’s, and though the recipe recorded by Charles H. Baker calls for dry apricot brandy (as in the eau de vie), this version, is adapted from the book, Bar La Florida Cocktails, (first published in 1934 and a collection of recipes that come from the bar of the same name in Havana) and employs the liqueur version of apricot brandy.

Hotel Nacional recipe
40ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
20ml pineapple juice
15ml De Kuyper Apricot Brandy

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.



This is one of our favourite rum drinks. Light and refreshing, thanks to the champagne — it is that perfect little glass of something if you don’t know which little something it is you’re looking for. It makes its first appearance in print in the 1941 book, Here’s How, by W. C Whitfiled.

Airmail Cocktail recipe
30ml Flor de Caña 7 Year Old Grand Reserve
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml honey syrup (2 part honey
mixed with 1 part hot water)
30ml brut champagne to top

Method: Add all ingredients (except Champagne) into an iced shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne saucer or coupe glass. Top with champagne and garnish with a lime wheel.


Royal Bermuda Yacht Club

You know what, Trader Vic had something going for him — the man knew how to mix with rum. Here’s another of his recipes (the Mai Tai also makes this list) and it registered as one of the favourites with the bartenders we asked for this piece. With good reason!

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club recipe
50ml Mt Gay Rum
20ml fresh lime juice
10ml falernum
A dash of triple sec

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Shake briskly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Adapted from Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic, 1947


The Nuclear Daiquiri

The late Gregor De Gruyther, brought the Daiquiri into the nuclear age with this potent variation. Created by Gregor in London’s Lab in 2005, the beverage can now be ordered around globe and is oft drunk in his memory, or just because it’s actually mighty tasty.

Nuclear Daiquiri recipe
25ml Wray & Nephew Overproof
25ml Green Chartreuse
25ml Lime Juice
10ml Falernum

Shake as if a radioactive winter is nigh and strain into a cocktail glass.

There is no garnish for this drink because as Gregor used to say: “No garnish can withstand the awesome power of the Nuclear Daiquiri.”


The Zombie

Is there a drink more fearsome than the Zombie? Created by Don The Beachcomber back in 1934, the drink was so popular that he would obscure the ingredients — as a means of protecting his recipe from imitations — resulting in a mix like grapefruit juice and cinnamon being labelled as Don’s Mix.

The Zombie (1934 Recipe)
15ml Don’s Mix
15ml Falernum
30ml Pusser’s Rum
30ml dark Jamaican rum
15ml 151-Proof rum
1 dash Angostura Bitters
5ml Absinthe
10ml 1883 Pomegranate Grenadine

Shake everything with ice and dump into a big tiki mug or glass. Cap with crushed ice and garnish the heck outta it.


Mai Tai

As far as tiki drinks go, the Mai Tai — created by Victor ‘Trader Vic’ Bergernon — is one of the most recognisable (along with Don the Beachcomber’s Zombie) as well as being one of the world’s most delicious rum drinks.

Mai Tai recipe
60ml Stolen Smoked Rum
30ml lime juice
15ml curacao
7.5ml orgeat
7.5ml sugar syrup

Shake well with crushed ice and dump into a rocks glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and spent lime shell.

Adapted from Trader Vic’s original 1944 recipe.


Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford cocktail is a Prohibition classic first appearing in the 1920s at the height of her fame. The cocktail makes its way into in print in the English The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. The concoction itself claims Cuban origin. with most citing the famous cantinero Constantino Ribalaigua from Floridita in Havana as the creator.

Mary Pickford recipe
45ml Angostura Reserva white rum
30ml pineapple juice
3 dashes maraschino liqueur
3 dashes real pomegranate grenadine

Shake all ingredients and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.