We Asked Bartenders For The Best Rums To Get You Through The Long Winter Months

When we think of rum, our minds tend to gravitate towards Tiki-style drinks like daiquiris, mojitos, and mai tais. Sure, many of these drinks are right at home at a beach on a hot, summer day. But unlike vodka and tequila, you shouldn’t feel like you have put your favorite rum away when the weather begins to turn darker and colder. The fall and winter months are still a great time to embrace this molasses or sugarcane-based spirit. Add your favorite rum to hot mulled cider, mix it into your favorite eggnog recipe, or get extra indulgent and whip up some hot buttered rum for your friends and family.

Just do it the right way with the right rum. Sure, you can go to your local liquor store or bodega and grab a bottle of bottom-shelf rum but Keith Zintakmon, the bartender at JRDN in San Diego, prefers an aged rum when the colder months begin.

“I like a rum that is aged around 12 years and feels like a great intro to sipping rum,” he says.

Of course, you don’t have to buy a rum that’s been maturing for more than a decade, but you should also stay away from one that will burn like liquid fire as it’s going down. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to rums for mixing and sipping during the fall and winter months.

Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum

Jordan Fattal, bartender at Accomplice Bar in Los Angeles

Wray and Nephew. They are part of the cool Jamaican tradition of putting funky, pot stilled rum in a cheap, fire stopper topped, 1930’s-labeled bottled.

It’s inexpensive, high proof but so aromatic; it is versatile but still packs a punch.

Santa Teresa 1796 Rum

Nick Jackson, bartender at The Rum House in New York City

All drinkers need to try Santa Teresa 1796 rum. It is made up of different rums aged from up to 35 years in bourbon barrels and then further aged in the solera method. It’s really cool and unique while it tastes so good. It may have been our staff go-to for many years at The Rum House. If it’s loved by us, then you at least have to try it.

Foursquare Zinfandel Cask Blend Rum

Gary Wallach, director of food & beverage at Arlo SoHo in New York City

Foursquare Zinfandel Cask Blend is what of the most surprising rums I ever tasted. Fruity and sweet yet funky enough to show its edge in a cocktail. Granted, its best poured with over one rock.

Privateer Silver Reserve Rum

Sonny Verdini, beverage director at TRADE in Boston

There’s one rum you need to try. It’s Privateer white rum which is an artisanally-crafted rum made here in Ipswich, Massachusetts, made from 100% molasses.

Mount Gay XO Rum

Trevor Alderson, bartender at Blue Smoke in New York City

What is one rum all drinkers need to try at least once this fall? I’d have to go with Mount Gay. Specifically Mount Gay XO. You always know what you’re going to get from the oldest rum distillery in the world.

Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple

Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC

Plantation Rum Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple. It’s just delicious. It was hard to get in my hometown of Pittsburgh, but as soon as I moved to DC, I bought a bottle for my home bar. It makes a delicious daiquiri with a perfect balance of pineapple that doesn’t become overbearing.

Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva

Adam Cornelius, director of operations at Little Beet Table in Greenwich, Connecticut

Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva. It is very accessible and affordable. It was the first rum I’ve tasted that was so smooth by itself nothing else was needed, but it can also stand up to a good cocktail.

Appleton Estate 21-year-Old Rum

Mark Tubridy, bartender at 21 Club in New York City

I love a great sipping rum after dinner and one that I can highly recommend is the Appleton Estate 21-year-old. This well-respected Jamaican rum brand has several exceptional offerings that are fantastic in mixed drinks, but the 21-year-old offers a truly memorable stand-alone sipping experience. Rum changes in flavor dramatically over the course of its life in a cask, especially due to the heightened interaction between the spirit and the wood, brought on by the intense heat of the Caribbean. This exceptional rum is a blend of rums aged a minimum of 21 years and it boasts a beautifully balanced palate of citrus, dried fruit and spice.

It’s incredibly smooth and complex and it’s a must-try for any rum lover.

Appleton Signature Rum

Amy Wong, lead bartender at King Tide Fish & Shell in Portland, Oregon

Appleton Signature Rum. It’s rich and mellow, with the right amount of funk. I really enjoy this as a nice twist to the Daiquiri. Appleton is produced out of Wray and Nephew Distillery in Jamaica which is the most consumed rum in Jamaica. This is a good introduction for people just getting into Jamaican-style rums.

Zacapa 23 Year Solera Rum

Cheston Overman, lead bartender at Bookstore Bar & Café in Seattle

When I think about the rum everyone should try this fall, I immediately think of Guatemala’s Zacapa Rum. Specifically, Zacapa 23 Year Solera. Simply put, it’s awesomeness in a glass and full of rich caramel, molasses, and vanilla flavors.

Plantation Original Dark Rum

Liam Deegan, partner at Longway Tavern in New Orleans

Plantation Original Dark. It’s fun, it’s delicious and it’s produced by folks who make legit spirits. People who only drink Parrot Bay and Diet like it and people who only wear Hawaiian shirts and have tattoos of tiki mugs also swear by it. It’s loved by nearly everyone.

Clement VSOP Rhum

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Jon Baer, manager of beverage at The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated

Clement VSOP Rhum – Compared to the large, industrial rum brands which are made from molasses and typically sweet and fruity, Agricole rhums are made from fresh sugar cane juice and taste fresh, dry, and complex – similar to a well-aged whiskey. Clement VSOP has layers of caramel, spice, dried fruit, fresh coconut and banana. It is great on its own, either neat or over a piece of large ice, or mixed into a cocktail

Paranubes Oaxacan Rum

Kalani Ben, bartender at The Spare Room in Los Angeles

What is one rum all drinkers need to try at least once? My pick is Paranubes Oaxacan Rum. You don’t normally think of rum when you think of Mexico. But, this clean, sweet, high-quality rum should change your mind.