While nobody is going to fault you for enjoying a frozen, uber-sweet daiquiri when you’re on vacation, there’s no beating the classic, simple daiquiri. We’re talking the un-frozen kind; no strawberries or bananas involved. It’s made with only three ingredients: white rum (although some bartenders will mix it up with dark or flavored rum), fresh lime juice, and simple syrup.
That’s it. Easy peasy. Unless you’re Papa and take yours a tad stronger.
The simplicity of the drink allows all of the flavors to shine. You get the molasses, caramel, and vanilla sweetness of the rum, the fresh citrus flavor from the lime juice, and the sweet flavor from sugar. There’s a reason it’s one of the most popular cocktails of all time. As long as you have freshly squeezed lime juice and flavorful simple syrup, you’re in good shape. The difference between a great daiquiri and an okay (or even bad) one is the rum.
It’s important to select a rum that will be complementary to the other flavors of the drink. To find the best choices, we turned to the folks who spend their days mixing up drinks behind the bar. We asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one rum they always mix into a classic daiquiri. Keep reading to see all of their picks.
Bacardi Reserve Ocho Rye Cask Finish
Federico Doldi, food & beverage director at Gansevoort Meatpacking in New York City
Average Price: $43
One of the best rums to mix into a classic daiquiri is the Bacardi Reserve Ocho Rye Cask Finish. This incredibly tasty rum offers not only the classic aged rum profile you want in a daiquiri but also has some smokiness to it, making it even more perfect for cold winter daiquiris.
Molasses, vanilla beans, and caramel make way for cinnamon, pepper, and other warming spices. The bold flavor works well as the base for a daiquiri.
Detroit City Summer Rum
Petr Balcarovsky, lead bartender of The Apparatus Room in Detroit
Average Price: $25
The Detroit City Summer Rum is a great choice for a daiquiri. A true wholesome daiquiri should be crisp, refreshing, and filled with bright flavors. The Detroit City Summer Rum elevates the daiquiri naturally thanks to the beautiful way it was produced and its composition.
The brings a nose full of Jamaican funk with ripe banana, pineapple, and clove. The light rose gold body has a creamy mouthfeel full of Caribbean fruit notes like papaya, guava, mangos, and coconut. The silky-smooth finish offers hints of lime, toffee, and French Indie spice.
Appleton Estate Jamaican White Rum
Benjamin Brinton, general manager at Merriman’s Waimea in Waimea, Hawaii
Average Price: $25
I generally love Appleton Estate Jamaican White Rum in rum cocktails. Jamaican rums often have a ton of character and flavor. If you want your cocktail to have a rum flavor, this is the way to go.
This is a very light-bodied rum with notes of vanilla, toffee, tropical fruits, and gentle spices. It pairs well with lime and sugar.
Santa Teresa 1796
Tsuru Goto, food & beverage manager at Society Cafe in New York City
Average Price: $44
We like to use Santa Teresa 1796 because a classic daiquiri is pretty simple with its components. Bringing in a more complex aged rum like Santa Teresa makes for a more sophisticated and nuanced version of this classic cocktail.
Santa Teresa 1796 is a fruity, sweet, complex rum with notes of chocolate fudge, caramelized bananas, candied nuts, and butterscotch.
Ron Zacapa 23
Amber Milner, director of beverage at Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida
Average Price: $40
I prefer an aged rum in my daiquiri like Ron Zacapa 23. This solera-aged rum matures between six and twenty-three years in barrels that previously held American whiskey and Pedro Ximénez sherry.
The complex dried fruit and baking spice flavors of Ron Zacapa 23 pair well with the simple syrup and lime. It makes for a great classic cocktail with a small twist.
Aleksander Simic, bartender at Hutong in Miami
Average Price: $14
The best rum to mix into a classic Daiquiri is often a light or white rum like Bacardi Superior. This choice is great because it has a clean, neutral flavor profile that allows the lime juice and simple syrup to shine.
It’s all about balance in a Daiquiri, and Bacardi Superior provides a smooth canvas for those flavors to be highlighted. Simple, clean, and doesn’t take away from the citrus or sugary sweetness.
Rhum Barbancourt 5-Star
Clay Crocker, beverage director at Branja in Miami
Average Price: $25
Rhum Barbancourt 5 Star is my go-to for a daiquiri. You need quality and depth of flavor when you are discussing such a classic and concise drink, all the while also being something that will stand up to the fresh lime.
The cinnamon notes from this Haitian Rum that come out when shaken up are beautiful and are the reason why I go with the 8-year-old, instead of their older Estate Reserve which has a total of 15 years on it. Purists may argue with me about not using white rum, but I’ll stand by my choice unapologetically.
Privateer New England White Rum
Mike Herchuck, director of operations at American Social Bar & Kitchen in Miami
Average Price: $27
Privateer New England White Rum (Massachusetts) is a great base for a classic daiquiri. It’s light enough to use in a daiquiri but has some bold characteristics that make it stand out where a lot of light rum gets overpowered by the lime.
It’s very complex with a little bit of funk that is typical in New England-style rums with passion fruit and vanilla notes.
Flor de Caña 4 Extra Seco
Dennis Baby, head bartender at Kagi Maldives Resort & Spa in Maldives
Average Price: $18
Flor de Caña 4 Extra Seco white rum which works for any daiquiri recipe. It’s matured for four years before being charcoal filtered to remove its color and impurities. It’s known for its crisp, dry, complex flavor profile.
It has a well-rounded flavor with an aroma of sweet almond and vanilla which complements any fruit you want to include when you are making a flavored daiquiri.
Rum-Bar White Overproof
Kevin Beary, beverage director at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago
Average Price: $38 for a liter
The perfect daiquiri rum is a tough proposition. Traditionally an unaged or lightly aged molasses fermented column still rum in the Cuban style is what is specified for a class daiquiri. I prefer something with a bit more body and usually blend two or three rums in a “split base”. One of my favorites is unaged high-ester Jamaican rum such as Rum-Bar Overproof.
It begins with the fruity funk aroma and flavor expected from Jamaican rums. It’s loaded with fruity flavors, caramel, and vanilla and finishes dry and very warming.
J.M. Rhum Blanc 100 Proof
Vincent Bolognini, head bartender at Due West in New York City
Average Price: $40
J.M. Rhum Blanc 100 Proof. The beauty of the daiquiri is that it is only one spirit – rum. The lime and sugar really meld well with it, highlighting the nuances of the rum.
Hence, using an Agricole with notes of mango, papaya, and overripe bananas, with a higher proof and depth of flavor makes this daiquiri shine.