Whether you’re hosting parties or you’ve been invited to a gathering, the holiday season is a great time to stock up on spirits. And while bourbon and the various whiskeys are important this time of year, the likes of gin, vodka, tequila, and rum are also fun party favors. Today, specifically, we’re turning our attention to rum.
When it comes to versatile, mixable spirits, it’s difficult to beat rum. The various types of rum include white rum, gold rum, dark rum, spiced rum, navy strength rum, and others. There’s something to fit every palate. The best part? Myriad affordable rums are perfect for your holiday home bar and switching rum for whiskey is an easy way to riff on a classic (eggnog, old fashioned, hot toddy, etc.).
To find some holiday mixing gems, we went to the professionals who bide their time behind the bar. We asked twelve bartenders to tell us their picks for the best rums to mix with this holiday season. Keep scrolling to see their picks.
Ten to One Caribbean Dark Rum
Theo Rutherford, drinks educator at Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in Stamford, Connecticut
Average Price: $51.99
When finding rum to mix, I go with rums that are a little sweeter and I typically really like dark rums. In terms of brands that I think have a ton to offer, I like Ten to One. It has the right amount of sweetness, mixed with just a touch of sugar cane funk, with great baking spice that makes me think of winter while hopefully enjoying a cocktail on the beach. Tiki is the obvious way to go with this, especially a Hemingway Daiquiri.
That being said, the dark works really well as a whiskey substitute if someone is a little nervous about whiskey.
Vernice Reyes, bartender at Pívat Cigar Lounge inside of Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City in Rancho Mirage, California
Average Price: $14
The best mixing rum is Bacardi White with the coconut tropical sweetness you can mix this with spices and infuse your holiday cocktail. It is also the best option for the well-known “coquito” cocktail. It’s simple, flavorful, and always inexpensive.
It’s a bottle that belongs on your holiday bar cart.
Flor De Cana 7 Year
Tyler Olson, general manager at Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse and The Count Room at Flamingo Las Vegas
Average Price: $25.99
Flor De Cana 7 Year can be used in a variety of ways. We infuse it with tropical tea to create a variety of Pirate/ Tiki cocktails. This award-winning rum is known for its flavors of toasted coconut, vanilla beans, dried fruits, and warming, complex finish.
Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario
Miguel Chambers, bartender at Broken Shaker at Freehand in New York City
Average Price: $49.99
Zacapa 23 is an excellent choice for the holiday season. Zacapa 23 neat or served as a smoked old fashioned with notes of cinnamon and star anise is the perfect sipper with a cigar. Besides that, its caramel, vanilla, licorice, dried fruits, and oak works well in most seasonal cocktails.
Gui Jaroschy, partner at Unfiltered Hospitality in Miami
Average Price: $45
Brugal 1888 is my favorite rum for holiday drinks. It’s full-bodied and oaky with a touch of sherry which makes it as good an option for sipping neat around the fire as it is for throwing into egg nogs, holiday punches, or hot buttered rums.
Bumbu Crème Rum
Cosimo Bruno, beverage curator at Daxton Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan
Average Price: $42
Bumbu Crème Rum is the ultimate blend of select spices, rich and decadent dairy cream, and Bumbu rum. This manifestation is nearly irresistible in a cocktail and will make your holiday evenings merry and bright.
Koloa Kaua’I Coconut Rum
Della Norton, food and beverage manager of The Bellmoor Inn and Spa in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Average Price: $38
I prefer coconut rum if I am going to drink it. Koloa Kaua’i reminds me of the islands. This rum you can sip or make the perfect pina colada. Bold flavors of vanilla, tropical fruits, and toasted coconut make this rum shine in any seasonal cocktail.
Pampero Rum Aniversario
Cody Kennedy, bartender at Juniper Preserve in Bend, Oregon
Average Price: $33
For the holidays, I’d choose a Venezuelan rum like Pampero Rum Aniversario. What flavors make it great? Pampero is fairly sweet with vanilla beans, butterscotch, and a nutty sweetness. It helps that it’s also bargain-priced. What cocktails does it mix into well? Holiday cocktails, punches, eggnogs, old fashioneds, and other drinks.
I’m from south Florida, so rum is kind of second nature for me.
Santa Teresa 1796
Nicholas Bennett, beverage director at Porchlight in New York City
Average Price: $49.99
If I’m mixing up a drink with rum this holiday season I am using Santa Teresa 1796. Sure, this is a very nice sipping rum and will make a great after-dinner nightcap, but it also makes a great egg nog. It has a spicy, oaky flavor that compliments the spices that make egg nog so wonderful during the holiday season.
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
Matt Burnett, bar manager at Bellwether House & Folklore Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia
Average Price: $35.99
Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva is my pick. This is obviously a great rum to sip neat, but its flavor profile plays perfectly with the holidays. Dark fruit, baking spices, butter, and tobacco. I mean come on. Whip up a hot buttered rum or mix it with your favorite vermouth and amaro and grab a seat by the fire.
Kraken Black Spiced Rum
Gabby Senne, bar supervisor at Sideways Lounge in Buellton, California
Average Price: $18.99
My go-to rum for mixing is Kraken. It is a higher-proof rum with great flavors, I like using the higher-proof rums for mixing especially with something really sweet because the extra alcohol helps cut through that sweetness for a nice and balanced drink. Kraken is great in eggnog or anything with pineapple.
Jack Beguedou, bartender at Proof 192 in Omaha, Nebraska
Average Price: $36
Foursquare is my go-to. This is because of the higher-proof and bold flavors, this is the perfect rum for mixing and blending cocktails. If I had to pick only one, it would be Foursquare Probitas. This blended white rum is filled with vanilla, citrus fruits, and molasses. It’s a great mixing rum for the holiday season.