Aw, Sugar Sugar! 6 Cane Spirit Cocktails for National Rum Day

Light, dark, aged or blackstrap - rum it up on August 16 with these flavorful libations.

The Daiquiri. The Mojito. The Mai Tai. These drinks have stood the test of time, and they all have their base in rum. The fermented and distilled juice from sugarcane (or molasses, its by-product) has a way of effortlessly making every cocktail refreshing and memorable. But lest you think rum is only useful for tropical sips or simple quaffers, some of these other concoctions will also make you see it as a serious, shaker-worthy spirit.

The Promontory Zombie cocktail recipe - National Rum Day cocktails


Recipe courtesy of Dustin Draniewicz, The Promontory, Chicago, IL

Inspired by the original version created in the 1930s by Don the Beachcomber, this version skips one of the rums from the original version, and gets its fruit element from Saigon syrup and papaya sour. “Most of our rum drinks will feature two or more rums - using a younger rum and an aged rum together is a way of building layers of flavor,” says bar manager Dianna Sanders. “We also love to combine rum with warm spices - again, it’s all about layers and depth in the finished product.”

  • 1 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. dark rum
  • 1 oz. velvet falernum
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • ½ oz. Saigon syrup
  • 1 oz. papaya sour
  • Lime wheel and fresh mint, for garnish

Combine light rum, dark rum and velvet falernum, and add in lime, Saigon syrup and papaya syrup. Add to blender with 8 to 10 large scale ice cubes, and let blend for 12 to 15 seconds. Pour and serve immediately, garnished with the lime wheel and fresh mint.

Old Salt No. 2 cocktail recipe - National Rum Day cocktails

Old Salt No. 2

Recipe courtesy of The Whistler, Chicago, IL

Bartender Eric Henry says to think of this drink as a “salted caramel Old Fashioned...that will put hair on your chest.” Although it’s kind of like dessert, he says it’s more boozy than sweet (even the lower-proof rum included in the cocktail is flammable, and The Whistler has a one-per-customer rule). As Henry puts it, “two of these will have you telling tall tales and swearing like a sailor.” The burnt sugar syrup is another word for house-made caramel, while the honey/salt is made by dissolving granulated honey and sea salt in water - only a few drops are needed to add sweetness and salinity.

  • 1 oz. Lemon Hart 151 Rum
  • 1 oz. Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
  • ¼ oz. burnt sugar syrup (see Note)
  • 20 drops salt and granulated honey tincture (equal parts granulated honey and sea salt, dissolved in enough water to make a solution)
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail glass, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over 1 large ice cube.

For the burnt sugar syrup:

Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The sugar will eventually melt into a thick, brown, amber-colored liquid. Just before it turns from amber to dark brown, add an equal amount of water to it and stir. Remove it from the heat, cool, bottle, and refrigerate.

Cruzan Black Strap Belle cocktail recipe - National Rum Day cocktails

Cruzan Black Strap Belle

Recipe courtesy of Tiffanie Barriere, Atlanta, GA

The rum for this sip gets extra body, flavor, color and texture with the addition of blackstrap molasses. Nutmeg coaxes out the spirit’s baking spice flavors, and the drink is lightened with coconut water and lime.

  • 2 oz. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
  • 2 oz. coconut water
  • 1 tsp. Honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water, shaken or stirred to dissolve)
  • Squeeze of half a fresh lime
  • 6 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Nutmeg, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well to chill. Pour into a rocks or tiki glass over fresh crushed ice, and garnish with nutmeg.

Cruzan Hint of Spice cocktail recipe - National Rum Day cocktails

Cruzan Hint of Spice

Recipe courtesy of Christian Guillen, Dallas, TX

This drink is a page taken from the handbook of how to do tiki. It’s got rum, orgeat (a spiced pecan one from Texas, but feel free to substitute another brand), allspice liqueur, lime and Angostura. It’s boozy, citrusy, spicy and ultimately thirst-quenching.

  • 2 oz. Cruzan Aged Light Rum
  • 1 oz. D&D Shrubs & Syrups Co. Spiced Pecan Orgeat
  • ½ oz. allspice liqueur
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • 5 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Mint sprig and lime wheel, for garnish

Add the rum, orgeat, allspice liqueur and fresh lime juice to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake well and strain into a Collins glass over crushed ice. Top with bitters and garnish with a mint sprig and lime wheel.

Bacardi 8 Old Fashioned cocktail recipe - National Rum Day cocktails

Bacardi 8 Old Fashioned

If you like a bourbon or rye Old Fashioned, why not try one with aged rum? This one uses a special selection of barrel-aged spirits aged at least 8 years, and has notes of prune, apricot, nutmeg and vanilla. It works as a sipping rum, or to add tons of flavors to the classic cocktail (which, incidentally, does not contain muddled fruit).

  • 2 oz. Bacardi 8 Anos Rum
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • ½ oz. water
  • Orange peel, for garnish

To an Old Fashioned glass add the sugar, water and Angostura Bitters, and stir with a bar spoon. Add the rum, fill the glass three-quarters of the way with large ice cubes, and stir 10 times or so, until chilled. Top with fresh ice, and squeeze the orange peel over the glass before dropping it into the drink.

East India Negroni cocktail recipe - National Rum Day cocktails

East India Negroni

Banks 5 Island Rum is a blend of 21 rums from 6 distilleries and 5 islands. Blackstrap rum from Trinidad lends body, Jamaican pot-stilled rums give aromatics, Guyanan spirits give earthy and tropical fruit notes, golden rums from Barbados add zest, and Batavia Arrrack from Java gives it a little spice. This cocktail is way more complex than its three ingredients would have you believe. Serve it on the rocks or up if you wish.

  • 2 oz. Banks 5 Island Rum
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Lustau East India Sherry
  • Orange peel, for garnish

Add all the ingredients except the garnish to a mixing glass, then add ice. Stir and strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube, and garnish with the orange peel.

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on  Twitter  and  Instagram  @kmagyarics.


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