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Bartenders Name The Absolute Best Rums To Mix With In Winter

A fully stocked bar is extremely important for crafting winter cocktails. When it comes to cold weather mixing, it’s hard to top a drink made with single malt Scotch, bourbon, rye, or other types of whiskey. But you’re doing yourself a disservice if you limit your drink-making simply to those seasonal frontrunners.

If you’re down to get out of your comfort zone and try a spirit besides whiskey this weekend, we’d like to suggest a nice rum. Whether it’s dark rum conjuring holiday spices or white rum making us dream of the tropics, the molasses-based spirit makes a great base for cold-weather cocktails. At its best, it has all the depth of whiskey while bringing some surprising new flavors into the mix.

We asked a few of our favorite bartenders to tell us the absolute best rums to mix with during the colder months. Not surprisingly, all but one of them picked aged, dark rums — rich in those soul-warming spices. Keep scrolling to check their picks.

Clement 10 Year

Clement 10 Year
Clement

Lewis Caputa, lead bartender at Rosina Cocktail Lounge in Las Vegas

ABV: 42%

Average Price: $75

Why This Rum?

This aged rum mixes well with everything in my opinion. Hints of orange peel and brown sugar really stand out. I feel that when I drink rum, I need a bit of a burn and this gives you that, right at the front of your palate.

Brugal 1888

Brugal 1888
Brugal

James MacInnes, liquor boss at Klaw in Miami

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $45

Why This Rum?

I’m a big fan of Brugal 1888 for its lower-than-average sweetness and its sherry and bourbon cask aging. Produced in the Dominican Republic, 1888 still supplies the drinker with sugar cane sweetness and viscosity but avoids becoming overbearing and plays extremely well into classic formats.

Pusser’s Gunpowder

Pusser’s Gunpowder
Pusser

Lee Noble, mixologist at Art in the Age in Philadelphia

ABV: 54.5%

Average Price: $30

Why This Rum?

I’ve been making a Manhattan riff this winter with Pusser’s Gunpowder in place of the whiskey and Lo-Fi Sweet Vermouth in place of Italian or French sweet vermouth. It’s much richer, so I dial up the Angostura Bitters to balance out the sweetness.

Holmes Cay Single Cask Barbados

Holmes Cay Single Cask Barbados
Holmes Cay

Subhash Sankar, head mixologist at Alaia Belize in San Pedro Town, Belize

ABV: 56%

Average Price: $125

Why This Rum?

Holmes Cay Single Cask Barbados is an exceptional, beautifully-aged Barbados single-cask rum with a dense, complex palate. Holmes Cay imports some truly excellent single cask rums. No color or sugar is added to this rum. This drinks easily even at that high proof, but a bit of water opens it up and reveals an exciting range of spice, fruit, and vanilla on the palate.

Mixing with it creates an intensely flavorful cocktail that you won’t soon forget.

Plantation O.F.T.D.

Plantation O.F.T.D.
Plantation

Joseph Samuel, bartender at Billy Can Can in Dallas

ABV: 69%

Average Price: $26

Why This Rum?

Plantation O.F.T.D. can’t be beaten. I think the clove and molasses jump out at you. It’s complex enough for an aromatic cocktail but still flavorful enough to do sour as well. Plus, the high proof means that no matter what you add won’t water down or diminish the flavor of the rum itself.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
Diplomatico

Robert McCarthy, bartender at Seven Square Taproom in San Francisco

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $38

Why This Rum?

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva with deep vanilla, citrus, and molasses vibes is great in winter. This award-winning, rich, slightly spicy, bold aged rum is well-suited for mixing into your favorite rum drinks as well as a rum replacement for your go-to seasonal whiskey cocktails.

Zaya Gran Reserva

Zaya Gran Reserva
Zaya

Christopher Devern, lead bartender at Red Owl Tavern in Philadelphia

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

Why This Rum?

Zaya Gran Reserva has flavors of vanilla, baked fruits, winter spices, hints of citrus, and smoke. Made in Trinidad, this is a blend of 12 different rums aged up to 16 years. Try it in your next rum old fashioned or shake it up with some pineapple juice and cinnamon syrup for a great dark and stormy.

Bacardi Superior

Bacardi Superior
Bacardi

John “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick, spiritual advisor at Warren American Whiskey Kitchen in Delray, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $17 for a 1-Liter Bottle

Why This Rum?

Bacardi Superior White Rum is still the standard-bearer as a consistent, well-made, blank slate rum best suited for mixing. Many others work as well but why mess with the best? The flavors of molasses, sugar cookies, and slight spice work well in a variety of wintry cocktails.

Old Monk

Old Monk
Old Monk

Ally O’Keefe, bartender at The Bower in New Orleans

ABV: 42.5%

Average Price: $24

Why This Rum?

Old Monk Rum is my pick. Old Monk is such a fantastic rum. Flavors of bold vanilla bean, overripe banana, butterscotch, and warming molasses make it a beautiful addition to any winter cocktail.

John Emerald Spurgeon’s Barrel Aged Rum

John Emerald Spurgeon's Barrel Aged Rum
John Emerald

Jonathan Howard, bartender at Audrey in Nashville

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $38

Why This Rum?

I love John Emerald’s Spurgeon Rum from Opelika, Alabama. This is a really versatile rum for cocktails that does wonders for winter flavors like pecan, walnut, all-spice, and cinnamon, but also amazingly well with wintergreen, pine, and cranberry.

Smith & Cross Overproof

Smith & Cross Overproof
Smith & Cross

Justin Wilson, lead bartender at The Kimpton Sylvan in Atlanta

ABV: 57%

Average Price: $30

Why This Rum?

I like an overproof rum for its warming effects. Smith & Cross fits the bill perfectly. It’s great to enjoy neat or in a rum old fashioned. It’s got a funky flavor that I like with notes of banana and spice.

Mount Gay Eclipse

Mount Gay Eclipse
Mount Gay

Alejandro Mendoza, restaurant and bar manager at Hotel SLO in San Luis Obispo, California

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $20

Why This Rum?

If I’m being honest, I mostly stick to whiskey for the colder months. But if I have to choose a rum, I go with Mount Gay Eclipse. The notes of banana, cinnamon, and caramel warm the palate almost instantly. It’s a fantastic rum for the price. It also works well in a rum take on an old fashioned or wintry eggnog.

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