Real talk: The best rum drinks are tiki drinks. Especially when getting drunk is the whole point. Various rums, citrus-forward fruit juices, and tropical spices combine to make high-alcohol drinks like the Zombie, Moonraker, and various rum punches. Some of these tiki drinks are so strong, smart bartenders limit you to only one, maybe two per drinking session.
The throughline in the wild, wooly world of tiki is rum: dark rum, spiced rum, white rum, rhum agricole, and even cachaça. You need to have a lot of rum on hand if you’re going to throw a tiki party with your crew. More importantly, you’ll need a lot of different rums to execute these drinks.
With that in mind, we thought we’d compile a list of ten essential bottles of rum you need to snag if you’re going tiki for your next party. These are the bottles that make tiki what it is. We’ve added one extra bottle of rum-based liqueur at the end, which is the ace-in-the-hole of any great tiki bartender.
Let’s dive in!
BACARDI OCHO RESERVA
Story: Bacardi’s realignment with their rum expressions has been a rousing success. Their release of four-year-old and eight-year-old aged rums are brilliant and inexpensive bottles of rum. While their Cuatro is a great mixing rum, their Ocho Reserva really hits the mark when you want to mix up a delicious tiki drink.
Tasting Notes: The Cuban recipe is in full bloom here. Notes of freshly hewn grass are pinned with nice oaky nature and flourishes of rich allspice. Deep notes of tobacco and book leather come into play with a cotton candy sweetness that leads to apple and pear orchard earthiness. –Zach Johnston