The 7 Best Dark Rum Cocktails to Drink in 2021

Dark rum is much more than what you might throw into a Dark and Stormy or cook up some fried plantains with. It’s a signature spirit that can turn just about anything it touches into a tropical treasure. This is especially the case in cocktails, where dark rum can add depth and tie together multiple ingredients seamlessly.

Billy Rockefeller is the bar manager at The Longboard in South Carolina. The seafood restaurant and craft watering hole has a special place in its heart for rum. He offered The Manual a few of the recipes on the list below, along with some bottles to have on hand at your home bar.

There are many dark rums out there, some far superior to others. Rockefeller suggests Cruzan, as it’s able to stretch the flavors of other, more-palatable rums. He also likes Pusser’s Blue Label for its “rich color and long finish.” Plantation is another brand worth paying attention to. He likes the OFTD because it maintains a leniency and savory component, despite the high alcohol. Having an overproof rum available is a great way to amp up and integrate a drink without overwhelming it.

“Plantation Pineapple is one of my favorite flavored rums because it embodies the tropical notes of pineapple without tasting gimmicky or overly sweetened,” he says. It’s a bartender’s favorite, and for good reason.

Look to the following recipes to enjoy everything dark rum can bring to a memorable mixed drink.

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Zombie Tsunami

Zombie Tsunami Cocktail being lit.

Rockefeller calls this drink boozy but tasteful. “This cocktail will have you feeling like you’re on island time after just a few sips” he says.

  • 1 oz Cruzan Dark Rum
  • 1 oz Cruzan Light Rum
  • .5 oz Plantation OFTD Rum
  • .25 oz apricot liqueur
  • 1.5 oz pecan orgeat
  • .75 oz orange juice
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • 2 dashes of tiki bitters

Method: Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice. Strain into a glass and apply bitters. Garnish with pineapple.

Tahti Frio

Tahti Frio Cocktail.

“A play on the classic Hot Toddy, this rum blend is smooth and savory,” Rockefeller says. “Paired with the acid and the spice, this drink is bright enough to enjoy in the afternoon, and bold enough to fix that late night cocktail craving.”

  • .75 oz Cruzan Dark Rum
  • .75 oz Pusser’s Blue Label Rum
  • .5 oz Plantation Pineapple Rum
  • .75 oz spiced honey
  • .75 oz lemon juice

Method: Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Strain into a glass. 

Piña Colada

Pina Coladas held in hand.

Vacation in a glass, this timeless drink was always going to make the list. This Death and Co. recipe is fabulous, blending dark and light rums.

  • 2 oz Caña Brava White Rum
  • .5 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum
  • 1.5 oz fresh pineapple juice
  • 1.5 oz coconut cream
  • 1 pineapple wedge and brandied cherry for garnish

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and whip, shaking with a few pieces of crushed ice until incorporated. Dump into a double Old-Fashioned glass and fill the glass with crushed ice. Garnish with pineapple wedge and cherry. 

Jungle Bird

Jungle Bird cocktail on table.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier drink than the Jungle Bird. This recipe shows just how wonderfully dark rum can offset the bittersweet components of Campari.

  • 1.5 oz Jamaican rum
  • .75 oz Campari
  • 1 oz pineapple juice, preferably fresh
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz Demerara syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  • pineapple wedge and frond, for garnish

Method: Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake vigorously for 7 seconds. Strain into a double rocks glass over ice and garnish.

Rum Swizzle

Rum swizzle garnished with pineapple and cherry.

This fun Food Network recipe emphasizes the importance of a good dark rum blend, along with the singular beauty only falernum and fresh tropical juice can provide.

Method: Add all the ingredients to a pitcher with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until a frothing head appears. Strain into cocktail glasses and let the fun begin.

Hurricane

Hurricane Glass at sunset.

A classic in the dark rum category, the Hurricane marries the robustness of the spirit with the breeziness of fresh citrus and passion fruit. If you really want a good fade in the glass (sorta like another classic, the Tequila Sunrise), drip a little cherry liqueur or dark rum in at the end and let it settle at the base.

  • 2 oz rum
  • 1 oz citrus juice (lemon or lime)
  • 1 oz passion fruit syrup

Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice; shake until chilled, then strain over crushed ice into a hurricane glass. Garnish with an orange wheel and a brandied Luxardo maraschino cherry.

Mai Tai

Mai Tai with pineapple and cherry on top.

This Death and Co. take on the classic tiki drink utilizes the nuanced flavor of a quality aged Jamaican rum.

  • 1 oz Appleton Estate Reserve Blend Rum
  • 1 oz La Favorite Coeur de Canne Rhum Agricole Blanc
  • .25 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz orgeat
  • .25 oz simple syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Mint bouquet to garnish

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and whip, shaking with a few pieces of crushed ice, just until incorporated. Dump into a double Old-Fashioned glass, then pack the glass with crushed ice. Garnish with mint. 

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