Rum cocktails and the best rum brands to try in 2020

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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.

    Rum cocktails could play a big part in moving the nation away from its obsession with gin.

    For years drinks experts have said that rum is overtaking gin in popularity but there could finally be some evidence that this is happening.

    According to new research from Sainsbury’s, rum sales have experienced an impressive 39 per cent growth year on year.

    A previous report by The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) predicted that for 2018 sales would exceed 34 million bottles. And they were right, in 2018 sales of rum in the UK surpassed £1 billion thanks to the sale of nearly 35 million bottles.

    So things are certainly on the up for the spirit. historically, white rum has been the most popular but Sainsbury’s predict the spiced varieties will boom going into 2021.

    During the Sainsbury’s research 34 per cent of 25 to 44-year-olds said they enjoy drinking rum and that it could be their drink of choice.

    Drinks expert Tom Sandham commented: ‘Gin lured countless drinkers away from vodka, with notorious classics like the Negroni flourishing as drinkers craved punchy new botanical flavours.

    Now, gin drinkers are turning towards rum for the same reason, as it’s the ideal stepping-stone drink into aged spirits.’

    If you’ve never tried the spirit before and you’re not sure where to start, we are here to help! Take a look at our three-ingredient cocktail round-up for some easy at home inspiration, or scroll down for even more recipe ideas.

    Supermarkets already offer an impressive collection of own-brand rums and there are more rum brands than ever before. In 2018 the Spirits Business reported that the number of brands on the market in the UK was approaching 200, up from 50 in 2006.

    A brief history of rum

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

    While rum originated in the Caribbean, it can be made anywhere. It’s likely the number of craft rum brewers in the UK will increase, just as the number of gin distillers has grown.

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

    Each style of rum fits a different purpose and is best suited to different occasions, meals and preferences. Silvia, Turtle Bay rum’s resident rum expert, 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’, according to Silvia.

    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!’

    The perfect storm

    rum cocktails dark and stormy

    Mizina/Getty

    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!’

    Traditionally, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy is made using Goslings Black Seal rum and ginger beer. It’s very similar to a Moscow Mule but uses rum in place of vodka.

    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’, says Silvia.

    Best spiced rum cocktails:

    According to Silvia: ‘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

    Mizina/Getty

    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.

    The best 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 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: Yes, if you love a G&T you might want to give rum and tonic a try! Ahead of National Rum Day (16 August) in 2018, Silvia created a menu at Turtle Bay to temp gin drinkers towards rum. She matched six rums, out of a collection of 40, to one of three tonic water from Double Dutch.

    But if you can’t make it to one of Turtle Bay’s 43 restaurants in the UK to give the rum and tonic menu a go, experiment at home instead.

    rum and tonic turtle bay rum cocktails rum mixers

    Turtle Bay

    Rum cocktail ideas

    Bombay Rum, serves 1

    aldi rum bombay rum

    Ingredients:

    • 50ml rum
    • 1/2 pomegranate
    • 20ml fresh lime juice
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • Tonic water top

    Method:

    1. Add the rum, sugar and lime into a shaker.
    2. Shake.
    3. Put the pomegranate seeds into a wine glass with ice.
    4. Pour over the cocktail shaker contents and top with tonic water.
    5. Garnish with a lime twist or more pomegranate seeds.

    Recipe and image credit: Aldi 

    Nuts About Rum, serves 1

    aldi rum nuts about rum

    Ingredients:

    • 2 scoops of peanut butter
    • 80ml almond milk
    • 50ml rum
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 20g milk chocolate (melted)
    • Cocoa powder to dust

    Method:

    1. Add all the ingredients into a blender and add a scoop full of ice.
    2. Cover the rim of the glass in chocolate and crushed peanuts.
    3. Pour in the blended cocktail and dust with cocoa.

    Recipe and image credit: Aldi 

    Sugar And Spice, serves 1

    aldi rum sugar and spice

    Ingredients:

    • 50ml spiced rum
    • 20ml sherry
    • 6 mint leaves
    • 4 pieces of thyme
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 20ml fresh lime juice

    Method:

    1. Add the sugar and lime into mixing glass.
    2. Add the rum and mint then stir until the sugar is dissolved.
    3. Next, add the thyme, sherry and ice.
    4. Stir 20 times to dilute the drink and pour into a chilled glass.
    5. Garnish with thyme.

    Recipe and image credit: Aldi 

    Pale Dead Fingers, serves 1

    dead man's fingers rum cocktail

    Ingredients:

    • 50ml Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced
    • 50ml (Cornish) Pale Ale
    • 20ml Lime juice
    • 1 spoon caster sugar
    • 1 spoon sweet marmalade

    Method:

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

     

    Here’s our pick of the best rum brands to try in 2020