Rum cocktails and rum drinks you need to try if you’ve never had rum before

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  • Rum, especially rum cocktails, have surged in popularity recently. We look at why this might be and how best to enjoy the spirit if it's not normally your tipple of choice.

    For us, a rum cocktail screams summer sun, but for others pirates might be the first thing that springs to mind.

    Jack Sparrow’s favourite spirit is currently enjoying a boost of popularity in the UK but could it overtake gin as the nation’s trendiest alcoholic drink?

    According to The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, sales of rum for 2018 are predicted to exceed 34 million bottles – now that’s a lot of rum!

    Supermarkets already offer an impressive collection of own-brand rums and there are lots of branded rums for you to try too. We’ve had a look into why rum is on the up and where to start if you’ve never tried the spirit before.

    After all, according to Turtle Bay’s resident rum expert, Silvia Aliprandi: ‘These are the “rum years”!’

    So, you’d better get clued up so you know exactly what to order at the bar…

    A brief history of rum:

    The history of rum is intrinsically tied to the trade of sugar cane and therefore slavery, giving it a very dark history.

    It was first created in the Caribbean and is one of the strongest sugar-based spirits you can get.  Sugarcane syrup is distilled into alcohol, giving the spirit its boozy punch.

    Rum was famously drunk by the long-haul pirates and sailors of the British Royal Navy back in the 18th century to keep them hydrated.

    After months at sea, water would turn rancid and the beer eventually ran dry, so rum was the best option. This is why rum is often associated with the high seas and it was only in 1970 that the Royal Navy stopped the daily ration, more commonly known as the daily tot!

    Thankfully you only have to pop to the shops when you want a rum and coke these days.

    What is the difference between white, dark and spiced rum?

    If you’ve never tried rum before there’s a good chance it’s because you’re not sure where to start. Each style of rum fits a different purpose and is best suited to different occasions, meals and preferences. Silvia outlined the main differences and the best ways to drink each variety.

    White rum:

    ‘White or silver rums have no colour and a light taste, rum maestros usually filter the liquid until it has no impurities left, this gets bottle up straight away and not aged. Silver rums are perfect for cocktails for their sweet and light taste.’

    Best white rum cocktails

    ‘For its sweet and light taste, I’d say white rum is best to be mixed with cocktails. Simple daiquiris or mojitos are potentially the world’s most popular cocktails and perfect examples of white rum cocktails.’

    The Mojito

    rum cocktails mojito

    Aydin Aksakal / EyeEm/Getty

    Silvia explains: ‘Having been around since the 16th century (some say) the mojito is the proof that sometimes the simplest of ingredients can create something exceptional and world famous – who hasn’t heard of a mojito?! Lime juice, sugar cane, mint leaves, white rum and soda water (optional) that’s all it takes!’

    Dark rum:

    ‘Dark rum is made out the same initial liquid but aged in wooden barrels for a longer period of time. The longer rums are aged, the darker colour they become and the stronger flavour they get.’

    Best dark rum cocktails

    Silvia explains: ‘We add dark rums to cocktails to give that extra colour and little bit more flavour. Spoiler: they’re absolutely perfect to be sipped on their own though – same as you would sip a very good Scotch!’

    Dark and stormy: the perfect storm

    rum cocktails dark and stormy


    Silvia explains: ‘Another classic, just mix dark rum, angostura bitters, a fiery ginger beer and a lime wedge squeeze. Perfect refreshing drink if you are looking for a bit of a kick!’

    Spiced rum:

    ‘Spiced rums are usually aged for the same amount of time as dark rums but with the addition of spices while ageing, to give it a sweet and spiced taste.’

    Best spiced rum cocktails

    ‘Spiced rums are a nice twist to add extra spice in your life whether you like it in a cocktail, neat, on a dessert. If you have a sweet tooth, then this is the rum for you!’

    Spiced rum pina colada 

    rum cocktails pina colada

    Artur Debat/Getty

    Silvia suggests putting a twist on a classic rum based cocktail if you want to experiment with spiced rum. For example: ‘A coconut spiced rum pina colada is what I’d go for – Crushed ice, coconut cream, spiced rum and pineapple juice. A vibrant, spicier take on the class pina!’

    Hot buttered rum

    rum cocktails hot buttered rum


    A popular choice at Christmas, hot buttered rum is a nice alternative for those who don’t like mulled wine. It’s made with spiced rum, butter and a mix of spices. It’s rich and comforting and basically a big boozy hug in a mug so it’s definitely one to try during the colder months of the year.

    Rum mixers:

    If you don’t fancy making full-blown rum cocktails there are plenty of other rum drinks to try.

    Rum and coke

    rum and coke


    Rum and coke is a classic mix and one you might have already tried. According to Silvia: ‘Rum and coke is a classic mix and one you might have already tried. According to Silvia: ‘Rum ‘n cola or “Cuba libre” (free Cuba) became popular after Coca Cola was first imported to the island, rum being the most popular alcoholic beverage and Coca Cola being the most popular mixer imported in Cuba. The importation of Coca Cola was later banned in 1962 during USA embargoes on the country, but the Cubans continued to drink Cuba Libre using other brands of cola.’

    Rum and ginger beer or ale

    Silvia explains: ‘Ginger beer is a traditional rum mixer – one of its perfect partners, it’s a fiery addition that complements rum’s unique flavour.’

    Rum and juice

    From tropical juice to something sharper like grapefruit juice, rum and juice is a great thirst quencher for the warmer days of the year and needs lots of ice in the glass.

    Rum and tonic

    rum and tonic turtle bay rum cocktails rum mixers

    Turtle Bay

    Yes, if you love a G&T you might want to give rum and tonic a try!

    Ahead of National Rum Day, which takes place on 16th August this year, Silvia developed a new menu of rum and tonics to entice people who might usually opt for gin.

    Speaking about the menu she explained: ‘Rum is becoming more and more popular and that looks set to continue over the next few years. We wanted to create a new selection of drinks that showcased some of the amazing 40 rums on offer here at Turtle Bay and give rum lovers a magical new drinking experience.’

    The Turtle Bay rum and tonic cocktails match six rums, out of a collection of 40, to one of three tonic waters from Double Dutch.

    Silvia has matched the cranberry and ginger tonic spicy rums Foursquare Spiced, a Bajan rum with spicy & sweet with notes of nutmeg and gingerbread, and Gosling’s Black Seal, a dark rum from Bermuda with enticing notes of butterscotch, vanilla and caramel.

    The Cucumber and Watermelon tonic is slightly sweeter and works well with lighter rums like El Dorado 3, a bright, clean white rum from Guyana with coconut and vanilla notes, and Mount Gay Black Barrel, a Bajan gold rum with warm toasty notes.

    Finally, the classic Indian tonic is paired with Angostura 1919 and Mezan Jamaica XO, two rums with caramel and spicy notes.

    Head down to one of Turtle Bay’s 43 restaurants in the UK to give the rum and tonic menu a go or get experimenting at home. We’re certainly going to give it ago!

    Best supermarket own-brand rum:

    Aldi rum

    If you’re a huge fan of Aldi it will be of no surprise to you that alongside their award-winning Aldi wine, Aldi gin and Aldi Champagne, the supermarket also have award-winning rums in its spirits range.

    Aldi’s Old Hopking Spiced Gold Rum, £10.49

    This rum was awarded a gold medal at the Rum & Cachaça Masters 2018 and fought off more expensive rivals including World’s End Tiki Spiced Rum, which retails at £35.75. It also has a silver medal from the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

    Aldi’s Old Hopking Premium White Rum, £9.99

    It’s a great addition to rum-based cocktails like a refreshing mojito and was was awarded the silver medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

    Aldi Old Hopking Dark Rum, £9.99

    According to Aldi this rum has ‘notes of sugar cane, vanilla, caramel and dried fruit with discreet aromatic coffee and tobacco flavour notes linger on the palate.’

    Speaking about Aldi’s rum range and the increase in popularity for the spirt, Aldi’s wine expert Sam Caporn MW, The Mistress of Wine says: ‘Rum is definitely seeing a revival at the moment and it’s no surprise as it is such a versatile spirit that works in so many different ways, from a classic mojito to a thirst-quenching daiquiri.

    ‘With so many consumers now experimenting with cocktails at home, it is great that shoppers can turn to Aldi for award-winning, great quality rums that won’t break the bank.’

    Aldi rum cocktails:

    If you’re feeling inspired try whipping up one of these Aldi rum cocktails the next time your friends and family are over!

    Bombay Rum, serves 1

    aldi rum bombay rum


    50ml rum

    1/2 pomegranate

    20ml fresh lime juice

    1 tbsp sugar

    Tonic water top


    Add the rum, sugar and lime into a shaker.


    Put the pomegranate seeds into a wine glass with ice.

    Pour over the cocktail shaker contents and top with tonic water.

    Garnish with a lime twist or more pomegranate seeds.

    Nuts About Rum, serves 1

    aldi rum nuts about rum


    2 scoops of peanut butter

    80ml almond milk

    50ml rum

    1 tbsp honey

    20g milk chocolate (melted)

    Cocoa powder to dust


    Add all the ingredients into a blender and add a scoop full of ice.

    Cover the rim of the glass in chocolate and crushed peanuts.

    Pour in the blended cocktail and dust with cocoa.

    Sugar And Spice, serves 1

    aldi rum sugar and spice


    50ml spiced rum

    20ml sherry

    6 mint leaves

    4 pieces of thyme

    1 tbsp sugar

    20ml fresh lime juice


    Add the sugar and lime into mixing glass.

    Add the rum and mint then stir until the sugar is dissolved.

    Next, add the thyme, sherry and ice.

    Stir 20 times to dilute the drink and pour into a chilled glass.

    Garnish with thyme.

    Lidl rum

    lidl rum

    Lidl James Cook Dark Rum, £9.99

    Lidl’s award-winning rum picked up a bronze medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2016 and is also a great budget buy. Not only is this a great rum to drink, lots of people also use it to bake with when you want a touch of booze without using your most expensive spirits for a cake or mince pies at Christmas.

    Asda rum

    Dead Man’s Fingers, £22

    dead man's fingers rum cocktail

    Although this isn’t an own-brand rum from Asda it is currently the only supermarket where you can buy it.

    The spiced rum is created in Cornwall and was founded in St Ives’ Rum & Crab Shack.

    Lucy Cottrell, brand manager at Dead Man’s Fingers says: ‘Spiced rum is seeing massive growth due to the versatility it brings to drinks. The spices add a unique dimension to cocktails and long drinks and appeal to those that may be hesitant in trying a different type of spirit to what they traditionally drink.

    ‘Dead Man’s Fingers is giving this new generation of rum drinkers something edgy, something better – it’s a world away from ‘pirate plonk’ stereotypes. Rum is on the up with a growing premium category.’

    Recipe for Dead Man’s Fingers cocktail Pale Dead Fingers (pictured above):


    50ml Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced

    50ml (Cornish) Pale Ale

    20ml Lime juice

    1 spoon caster sugar

    1 spoon sweet marmalade


    Add the ingredients over ice in a tumbler glass and stir. Serve with a twist of orange.

    Best branded rum:

    On a budget:

    As well as award-winning supermarket rums there are some core branded rums that won’t break the bank.


    Bacardi white rum

    £19.50, or less, (Asda, Ocado, Amazon, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Iceland and Waitrose)

    Internationally known for mojitos according to Silvia and it’s under £20!

    £20 – £30:

    Kracken Black Spiced Rum

    Kracken Black Spiced Rum

    £23.50 (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon)

    This rum is aged for 12 to 24 months and blended with 11 spices.

    Sailor Jerry’s

    Sailor Jerry's

    £20 (Tesco, ASDA, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons)

    Along with Kracken, Silvia says this is a great spiced rum for around the £20 mark that’s available from most supermarkets and bars.

    Foursquare spiced rum

    Foursquare spiced rum

    £26.33 (Master of Malt)

    Silvia recommends serving straight or mixed with a cranberry and ginger tonic if you love lots of spice in your rum.

    £30 and more:

    Ableforth’s Rumbullion!

    Ableforth’s Rumbullion!

    Ableforth’s Rumbullion!

    £35.95 (Morrisons, Ocado, Majestic, Amazon, Master of Malt, 31 Dover and Harvey Nichols)

    This award-winning rum picked up best spiced rum in the World Rum Awards in 2017. The rum is blended with creamy Madagascan vanilla, a generous helping of zesty orange peel and it’s finished with a handful of cinnamon, cloves and a hint of cardamom.

    Why not try Ableforth’s Rumbullion! Spiced Daiquiri (pictured above)

    Shake 50ml Ableforth’s Rumbullion!, 20ml lime juice and 10ml sugar syrup over ice and fine strain into glass.

    Ableforth’s Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old

    Ableforth's Rumbullion! XO 15 Years Old

    Ableforth’s Rumbullion!

    £59.95 (Master of Malt)

    For the World Rum Awards 2018 this bottle bagged the coveted title of best spiced rum.

    Gold of Mauritius

    Gold of Mauritius

    Master of Malt

    £40 (Master of Malt)

    Silvia recommends not mixing this rum and simply sipping it straight. She says: ‘Sip, sip, enjoy and relax! At £40 it’s worth every penny!’

    Inspired to try rum or a new rum cocktail? Head over to our Facebook page to let us know how you get on!