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The best rums for your summer daiquiri

Picking the right rum for your daiquiri is extremely important, so we're here to help

Daiquiri
iStock

Many classic cocktails are perfectly suited for summer sipping. We’re talking about the gin and tonic, whiskey highball, Negroni, daiquiri, and more. And while we could write an article about summery cocktails (and we did), today it’s the daiquiris time to shine.

While we won’t judge you, if your daiquiri is frozen or contains strawberries, you’re doing it wrong. The classic daiquiri recipe is simple, elegant, effortlessly refreshing, and flavorful. This combination of white rum (see the list of the best rums for daiquiris below), fresh lime juice, and simple syrup is boozy, sweet, tart, and perfectly balanced in its flavors.

Created in 1896 in Cuba, this iconic drink was invented by an American engineer named Jennings Cox and named for the town of Daquiri. While there are a few stories about its origin, many believe that the drink only exists because the man ran out of gin and decided to give locally produced white rum a try.

Classic daiquiri recipe

Daiquiri on a table
John Maher / The Manual

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 7 minutes
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rum
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 — sugar:water)

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add ice and shake until well chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Many bartenders use the daiquiri as a litmus test for new hires to judge their palate and technique. Joaquín Simó, of the late Pouring Ribbons in Manhattan, once said of the daiquiri, “It’s the omelet of cocktails. If you can’t make an omelet, you don’t know how to cook. Same thing with a daiquiri.”

The best rums for your summer daiquiri

A daiquiri cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

Since this drink is so simple and only has three ingredients, each is equally important. Simple syrup is fairly easy to make at home. It’s simply made with a 50/50 mix of sugar and water. Fresh lime juice is key, as bottled juice can have a funky aroma and flavor. But the most important ingredient is the white rum. While you don’t have to purchase an overly expensive bottle, you also can’t go to the bottom shelf unless you want your drink to have a harsh, unpalatable flavor.

Ask six bartenders what their go-to daiquiri rum is, and you’re bound to get six different answers. And guess what? We did just that! We called on some of our best bar friends from around the country to help you with choosing the rum (or rums) to craft the perfect daiquiri possible.

Clairin

Clairin rum
Clairin

Kat Foster, former bartender at the esteemed Eleven Madison Park in NYC, said, “My favorite rum to reach for lately has been Clairin — it’s a terroir-driven style of Haitian rum made from sugar cane rather than molasses, and it brings a lively grassiness to a daiquiri. A little goes a long way, and I like to use a quarter ounce or so with a base of un-aged rum-like Plantation 3 Star or Ten To One white rum.”

El Dorado 3yr Cask Aged Demerara

El Dorado 3yr Cask Aged Demerara
El Dorado

“My go-to rum for a classic daiquiri is El Dorado 3yr Cask Aged Demerara,” said Drew Hairston, Beverage Director at Maydan in Washington, DC. “This juice checks all the boxes; the oak age introduces subtle vanilla and baking spice tones while maintaining a clean and colorless rum. I like this style because the soft notes can help to balance out the acid from fresh lime juice and allow you to use less sugar but keep roundness in the cocktail.”

Coconut Cartel

Coconut Cartel over a white background.

We reached out to Kyle Jones, owner of Bon Vivant’s in Nassau, Bahamas (and one of our favorite Instagrams), for his personal favorite daiquiri rum, and he came back with a unique one. “I generally use a quality white rum such as a Plantation 3 Star for our basic daiquiris; however, when it’s time to “treat yo-self,” my go-to is Coconut Cartel. It is an aged Guatemalan rum that is cut with coconut water, so it adds this delicious layer of salinity and a tropical slap to your tipple. With so many rums on the market, Coconut Cartel is unique and delicious.”

Scarlet Ibis

Scarlet Ibis
Trinidad Rum

Alex Negranza, Bar Director of MARCH restaurant in Houston, Texas, chose a blended rum from Trinidad originally made for the world-famous Death & Co. in Manhattan. “I love working with blended rums because I really feel like rums should play together. Death & Co. did a great job helping develop this rum for that specific use, and I love adding a bar spoon or 3 of Plantation Original Dark (or equivalent) for some extra depth. I prefer using a 2:1 simple syrup instead of a turbinado syrup, and a dark rum helps add some extra depth when I’m not using turbinado.”

Ron Pepón Blanco

Ron Pepón Blanco rum
Ron Pepón

Stephen Hoppe, co-owner of our favorite bar in Puerto Rico, La Penúltima, has a very (island) specific rum as his go-to daiquiri selection. “My favorite daiquiri rum right now is Ron Pepón Blanco. It’s Puerto Rico’s first agricole-style rum made by San Juan Artisan Distillers. Fresh milled cane juice is grown at the distillery and distilled on French pot stills. I find it to be something of a cross between Martinique and Jamaican rums, both elegant and funky.” Being fans of both funky Jamaican rums and grassy agricole rhum, we can’t wait to get our hands on this bottle.

Worthy Park Rum-Bar Gold

Worthy Park Rum-Bar Gold
Worthy Park

Don’t let the name of the bar fool you. Our good buddy Greg Ewan from Aunt Betty’s Gin & Absinthe Bar in Raleigh, North Carolina, has a solid recommendation for your next daiquiri. “My go-to for a single rum daiquiri is Worthy Park’s Rum-Bar Gold. It has toned-down esters compared to a typical Jamaican rum and doesn’t use dunder pits in its production, but the slightly muted funk allows the plantain, citrus, and vanilla notes to come through in balance. I also love that they have full control over their entire production from growing the cane to molasses production to distillation and bottling.”

The Manual’s pick: Plantation’s Stiggins Fancy and Wray & Nephew Overproof

Plantation Stiggins Fancy rum
Plantation

As avid daiquiri fans, we couldn’t help but throw our own choice into the mix. A 50/50 split of Plantation’s “Stiggins Fancy” and Wray & Nephew Overproof makes for our favorite “snaquiri” around the shop. The brilliantly smooth pineapple-infused rum from Plantation alongside the funky overproof Jamaican Wray & Nephew is hard to beat in our book.

Bottom line

Daiquiri
John Maher / The Manual

Picking the right rum for your summery daiquiri is extremely important. Since we tend to trust the opinions of bartenders, we feel that you can purchase any of the above choices and be more than happy. Regardless, we know this is going to be a summer filled with daiquiris. We’re going to mix up this iconic cocktail whenever possible. It’s only three ingredients and couldn’t be simpler to make.

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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