Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

8 Best Rums for Making Piña Coladas Delicious

man holding two glasses of pina coladas.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A good Piña Colada depends heavily on the rum selected for the job. Choose the right one, and you can take the Puerto Rican classic cocktail to glorious new heights. Blending coconut, pineapple, and rum, the Piña Colada is about as tropical as mixed drinks come. And a good rum cocktail can transport you straight to a warm San Juan beach. The key is to find a rum that works in harmony with the decidedly distinctive and sunny flavors of the other two main ingredients.

Problem is, many bartenders keep their specific rum selections under lock and key. Further, some of the best Piña Colada recipes incorporate a plurality of rums from different regions (often the Caribbean and Hawaii). While we don’t exactly expect you to craft something as perfect as what is engineered behind the bar at places like TropicaleLost Lake, or Polite Provisions, you can make a better Piña Colada. And a major first step in that process is grabbing the right rum.

We perused some of the better recipes out there and chatted up some industry experts for the best rums to call up when making a Piña Colada. Bust out the flip-flops, unfold the cocktail umbrella, and get to mixing with these standout selections.

Related Guides

Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum

Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Alicia Perry is the general manager and bartender at Polite Provisions. She appreciates this Jamaican selection for its “navy strength, earthy notes, and hints of caramelized banana.” It’s great and a little funky on its own but even better dressed up as a proper Piña Colada.

Clément Canne Bleue Rhum Agricole

Clement Canne Bleue Rhum Agricole
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why not rhum, rum’s cousin crafted from pressed sugarcane (instead of molasses)? Perry likes this white rhum from Martinique, which she says shows hints of merengue and a slight grassy and dryer finish. Pro tip: Use a blend of this rhum and Smith & Cross. That’s what Perry does. “The two really take the Piña Colada into another realm for me, providing more depth and layers of flavor that showcase pineapple and coconut in a more robust way.”

Buy at Wine

Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum

Plantation Stiggins' Fancy Pineapple Rum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are scores of infused rums out there, some far superior to others. This one from esteemed rum-maker Plantation is up for the task. “It lends a juicy caramelized pineapple backbone to the cocktail,” Perry says.

The Real McCoy 3-Year Rum

The Real McCoy Three Year Rum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“It packs a punch of flavor with notes of toasted coconut and vanilla,” Perry says of the Real McCoy. Similar to above, she suggests blending this rum with Stiggin’s Fancy, yielding an intriguing flavor profile she equates to a Dole Whip.

Zaya Gran Reserva Rum

Zaya Gran Reserva Rum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, this rum shows pie fruit characteristics along with a nice oak influence. The baking spice aspects are especially tasty and fare well with the coconut flavors of the cocktail. The rum is a bit heavier so it’s especially good with a richer Piña Colada recipe.

Flor de Cana 12-Year Rum

Flor de Cana 12 Year Rum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The folks at Tropicale aren’t giving up their house Piña Colada recipe anytime soon. But we do know they like this premium rum from Nicaragua and we’ve tried it out to stellar results. It has a bit of spice to it, along with some tremendous citrus notes that play beautifully with pineapple.

Pedro Mandinga Panama Silver Rum

Pedro Mandinga Silver Rum
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This Pedro Mandinga rum is all about finesse and offers a kick of banana that rounds out the cocktail swimmingly. Most bartenders argue that it’s the best option out of Panama right now and it fits into a Piña Colada seamlessly.

Buy at Passion Spirits

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva

Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This Venezuelan gem is a bona fide sipper and it does great things to a Pina Colada, especially a more delicate recipe that really sits back and lets the rum do the talking. It shows a bit of toffee, baking chocolate, and even a hint of anise. Pro tip: Half the amount of sweetener or coconut milk (if it’s sweetened) your recipe calls for to let the details of this rum come to the fore and play off of the other ingredients.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
The 8 Best Slow Cookers for 2022, Reviewed
best slow cooker on amazon

Slow cookers are an essential kitchen appliance for the experienced cook, the large family, and of course the bachelor. There are an almost limitless number of slow cooker recipes that involve minimal prep and require zero attention. Just toss everything in the ceramic pot, and four to eight hours later, you have a delicious meal that is ready to eat.

If you're thinking that you can achieve the same result with a Dutch oven and your oven set on low, you'd be correct. However, are you comfortable leaving your oven on and unattended for eight hours? If you are, that's fine, but we're going to go the slow cooker route. Slow cookers are programmed with safeguards that make the unit shut down if something goes wrong. We can't say the same for our ovens.

Read more
The 10 Best Boxed Wine Brands for 2022

The fact that you’ve found your way to this article probably means that you aren’t bogged down by the stigmas that have been attached to boxed wine over the years. Nor should you be. Admittedly, some of the first boxed wines to hit the shelves weren’t the best, but that was more than 50 years ago! Also, you might have been to some parties in your youth where the inner bag (or bladder) of wine was extracted from its cardboard exoskeleton and a game called “slap the bag” was played. Not a good look for boxed wine.

But, as with all things, boxed wine has evolved over time. Now there are wines that come from a box that you’d have a hard time distinguishing from that fancy brand you buy for special occasions.

Read more
The 11 Best Citrus Cocktails to Make in 2022
A teal bowl of citrus fruit on marble.

We’re in the middle of citrus season, so let’s concoct invigorating summer cocktails with peak seasonal ingredients like grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine. Before making that citrus cocktail, we have bad news: There's a decent chance you're doing citrus wrong. We spoke with Tory Pratt, the founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Company, a DC outfit that specializes in syrups tailor-made for vintage cocktails. Hence, it’s no surprise that Pratt knows a thing or two about getting the best out of citrus (Pratt's ideal citrus-forward classic is the daiquiri, and we've got her favorite version, a blackberry mint riff, below). If you're looking for easy cocktail recipes that include different types of citrus fruits, look no further.
Tips on Preparing Citrus Cocktails
How can we be better with citrus when mixing a drink? For starters, when it comes to limes, Pratt suggests looking for smooth fruit. "They'll have two to three times the juice of pebbly limes the same size," she says. Look for limes with a bit of give to them when you press. And keep in mind that the smooth rule doesn't apply to other citrus.

Pratt also touts the importance of fresh juice. "Any lemon or lime juice that's been sitting out for more than one to two hours oxidizes and becomes less tart," Pratt says. "So you need to use more of it to find sour-sweet balance in cocktails." She says a lot of bartenders are using old juice, pressed prior to opening up shop. Orange juice is more forgiving, as are bottled citrus juices.

Read more