7 Bartending Pros Pick Their ‘Must Have’ Rums

Apr 25, 2019by Melissa Dowling

Editor’s note: As so many alcohol trends begin at bars and restaurants, we occasionally cross-post content from our on-premise sister publication, Cheers.

If you could stock just a few rums, which three would you pick?

Several on-premise experts offer their choices to cover all the bases, from cocktails to after-dinner sippers.

Andrew Hannibal, bartender at Bastion in Nashville, says he likes to involve most major regions of production to give a fair representation of the category. “But if I had to pick three, definitely a tasty, clear rum from the Caribbean Islands; an aged, hogo-driven Jamaican rum, and of course, rhum agricole. Can I get a pass and have cachaça as a fourth choice?”

Sarah Rosner, head bartender at Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C.: “I would pick Brugal or Bacardi for white rum, Barbancourt Five Star for the funk and Smith & Cross for Navy Strength.” 

Johnny Livanos, general manager/bar program director at Ousia in New York: “I would probably choose El Dorado 3-year Blanco for my clear rum, since it is so smooth and delicious at a great price; Bacardi 8-year for my dark rum cocktails since it is so versatile and a workhorse in cocktails, and then use Santa Theresa 1796 for a sipping rum, since it is so rich and delicious.”

Fernando Bambaren, bar manager at Virtu Honest Craft in Scottsdale, AZ: Gosling’s Black Seal, Cane Land Spiced and Flor de Cana. “I think you would have a really great variety of cocktails you could make with all three of those rums.”

Jack Keane, general manager of Sundry and Vice in Cincinnati, has “an unhealthy love for Plantation Pineapple rum, but it covers fewer bases than most choices.” But he if had to pick only three, “I would go with Plantation 3 Star, Smith and Cross Navy Strength and Ron Zacapa 23.”

Tim Wiggins, co-owner/beverage manager at Yellowbelly in St. Louis: a Jamaican (Appleton or Rumba), an agricole (Rhum Neissson or JM), and a rum from Barbados, specifically anything from Foursquare. “I think those three places make the best rums in the world.”

Johnny Contraveos, beverage manager at ALK Steak Bar in Chicago’s Hotel Julian: Bacardi for a white rum and Sailor Jerry for the spiced rum crowd. “My final rum would probably be Plantation Stiggins Fancy pineapple rum for its many cocktail possibilities. It also makes a great shot for my industry friends.”

Melissa Dowling is editor of our on-premise sister publication, Cheers magazine. Reach her at mdowling@epgmediallc.com. Read her recent piece Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker Hosts Panel On Women’s Progress.

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