Lately, I’ve seen a lot of creative cocktails featuring rum. It seems like it is creeping up on Tequila as the favorite spirit of mixologists. Not only is it extremely versatile in high-end mixology, but it also is the base for a slew of classic cocktails. Since Aug. 16 is National Rum Day, why not dive in? 

Rum is a spirit distilled from sugarcane which gives it a sweet, slightly vegetal flavor that plays beautifully citrus juices. There are multiple types of rum: silver, dark, gold, aged, and spiced. The most popular silver rum in the game is probably Bacardi Superior. Gold rum is aged for a short period of time in wooden casks and dark or black rum has been aged much longer like Myers Dark Rum. Spiced rum is typically gold or dark rum that has spices and sweetness added to it like Sailor Jerry or Captain Morgan. It’s great for summer time cocktails and is widely produced in south Louisiana. To name a few: Old New Orleans Distillery, Donner-Peltier Distillery, Bayou Rum, and Roulaison Distillery.

I fully believe you have to crawl before you can walk. When it comes to cocktails, the same is true. The basic rum cocktail that everyone should know is the classic daiquiri. Its structure of spirit, citrus, and sweet are the backbone for many cocktails. The foundational recipe is 1 ½ ounces rum, ¾ ounce simple syrup, and ¾ ounce fresh lime juice. Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The simplicity of this recipe requires quality ingredients. Choose a high-quality rum and use fresh lime juice. There are such great rums produced in Louisiana, I’d choose a local silver rum like Donner-Peltier’s Rougaroux Sugar Shine. This recipe is so versatile that you can muddle any fresh fruit you have before you add liquid and ice to create a fruity version of the cocktail.

Building off the daiquiri recipe, we’ll move to a slightly more complex cocktail. Let’s talk mai tais. Rum is the base of so many tiki cocktails. The tiki cocktail movement has resurfaced over the last few years and reinvigorated the rum category. The traditional mai tai recipe is 1 ½ ounces white rum, ¾ ounce Orange Curacao (or Triple Sec), ¾ ounce fresh lime juice, ½ ounce Orgeat Syrup (an almond syrup with sugar and rose water), and ½ ounce dark rum. You’ll combine all the ingredients except the dark rum in a shaker tin with ice. Shake it and strain into an old fashion glass with fresh ice. Then the tricky part — float the dark rum on top of the cocktail by pouring over the back of a spoon so that it cascades over the curved side and sits on top of the cocktail. This cocktail will definitely make you feel like you are on vacation.

And the final rum recipe I’ll give you is probably the easiest. A dark and stormy is a wonderfully easy cocktail to make and equally delicious. It’s similar to a Moscow mule but no copper mug. Fill a high ball glass with ice and add 1 ½ to 2 ounces of dark rum and top with ginger beer. Then add a lime wedge and enjoy. The dark rum is the dark part and the ginger beer is the stormy part. It will layer to create a really neat visual.

On National Rum Day, give any of these a try to celebrate!

Judd Smith is a local wine enthusiast and creator of