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10 Great Places to Drink Rum Around the US

By Jenny Miller
August 14, 2013
Photo by: Clay Williams

It took a tiki boom a few years back to put rum back in our tippling consciousness, but now that it's caught the attention of serious drinks folks, the spirit is here to stay. What better booze to lace a shareable punch or offer a buzz for guaranteed tropical good times? There are hundreds of varieties of the sugar-based liquor available these days, including light rums (best for cocktails) and more serious dark rums, ideal for sipping or mixing. Whether you like mojitos, daiquiris or something more tiki-tastic, below are a few of the best places around the country to sample the original swashbuckling spirit, just in time for National Rum Day (this Friday).

  • Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, IL
    Well-known Windy City mixologist Paul McGee is behind the tiki-themed drinks at this newcomer, which opened this summer. River North bargoers must turn down an alley to reach the place, which is housed beneath another popular place from restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You, Bub City. Downstairs, you'll find full-on forties kitsch in the decor: wooden tiki heads behind the bar, which sports a dried-grass overhang. The tackiness ends there, however: Drinks like the eponymous house special (with two rums, honey, falernum, allspice and bitters) are well-balanced rather than overly sweet. Don't miss the food menu of Polynesian small bites like crab rangoon and coconut shrimp.

    435 N. Clark St.; 312-610-4220

  • Rumba in Seattle, WA
    At this sexy bar in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, turquoise leather upholstery pops against dark wood for a stylish and very mod decor theme. The 250 sipping rums range from dark to light, while cocktails featuring the spirit are divided up as "Classics," "Punches," "Tiki Explosion" and whatnot. A food menu offering empanadas, jerk pork, a Cubano sandwich and the like furthers the spot's goal of bringing the Caribbean to dreary Seattle.

    1112 Pike St.; 206-583-7177

  • Jam Rum Bar + Bistro Moderne in San Juan, Puerto Rico
    This San Juan rum bar features 70 varieties of the spirit from the island and around the world. "Rumtails" range from a guava mojito to the Bob Marley, P.R. and Jamaica rums with homemade local-honey-sweetened lemonade. The "Bistro" side of the menu highlights locally grown ingredients; there are typical tapas and of course, lots of seafood. A white-painted house provides the cozy tropical setting.

    1400 Calle Magdalena; 787-721-5991

  • Cienfuegos in NYC
    This East Village hang is named for a port city in Cuba and it pays homage to that country in every way it can, from the pastel colors decking the upstairs cocktail salon to the distinctly Latin-themed food menu (we'd sink our teeth into the Cuban BLT with pork belly and smoked tomato jam or the short rib ropa vieja). Gather your friends for this place: shareable punch bowls are the drink to order, sized for two to ten people, in flavors like the Garam Masala-laced Khyber Pass and the apple-and-celery-enhanced Village Green. Also to drink: daiquiris and a large selection of sipping rums.

    95 Avenue A; 212-614-6818

  • Chapel Tavern in Reno, NV
    Though not explicitly a rum bar, Chapel's owner and beverage director Duncan Mitchell is undeniably excited about the spirit, stocking more than 40 varieties, including house-infused coconut rum (he's even experimenting with house-made spiced rum at the moment). Rum-focused cocktails include the the Zombie Killer, with Lemon Hart Overproof Rum, Eldorado three-year, orgeat, pineapple gomme, blackstrap molasses and fresh lime, to the Frustuck in Deutschland, from the bar's "Hair of the Dog" menu, made with dark rum, overproof Jamaican rum, Rauchbier, and the breakfast-y addition of a whole egg and bacon. And this may not be Polynesia, but there is a sunny patio with varnished slabs of wood serving as tables and benches.

    1099 S. Virginia St,; 775-324-2244

  • La Descarga in Los Angeles, CA
    This is one upscale rum joint by twins Jonnie and Mark Houston, and it's got a dress code to prove it: gentlemen, collared button-down shirts only, please, and they must be tucked in; ladies, try to manage a cocktail dress and heels. Assuming you pass muster with the doorman guarding the East Hollywood hot spot, you'll enter through what appears to be an office with the hostess seated at a desk (reservations recommended), and pass through what looks like a closet into the gleaming bar space outfitted with wrought iron railings and authentic Cuban artifacts. Drinks are serious concoctions including classics like daiquiris made with fresh fruit juices and the Mary Pickford, with pineapple, maraschino, lime and Starr rum.

    1159 North Western Ave.; 323-466-1324

  • Photo by: Jesse Champlin

    Rum Club in Portland, OR
    As Kevin Ludwig's sister bar to lauded booze haunt Beaker & Flask, Rum Club is a craft cocktail bar that happens to emphasize rum. Grab one of the 12 seats at the gorgeous, horseshoe-shaped mahogany bar to peruse the drinks menu that includes such tipples as an old-fashioned made with rum and demerara syrup, or the more tropical Peggy Lee, made with black rum, lime and grapefruit juices, Swedish Punsch and pineapple gomme. Vintage-looking Asian wallpaper completes the vaguely throwback vibe.

    720 SE Sandy Blvd.; 503-265-8807

  • Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco, CA
    A real swashbuckler's paradise, this much-awarded drinks den may be the quintessential rum bar in the continental U.S. Its pirate-ship-channeling decor knows little restraint (but why would you want it to?) and word is the watering hole is based on several legendary SF bars of yore. As for drinks, rum's the word: Smuggler's offers more than 80 cocktails and a whopping total of 420 sipping rums. For booze nerds, there are punch cards to track which cocktails you've tried and even a rum club called the Rumbustion Society.

    650 Gough St.; 415-869-1900

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Rum House in NYC
    Here's a rare thing: A decent bar within a few blocks of Times Square. It's focused on rum? Even better. Housed on the ground floor of the Edison Hotel, this drinks den outfitted with gleaming wood and vintage light fixtures is also a piano bar with live music (often jazz or ragtime) every night. Classic rum cocktails are front and center (dark & stormy, mojito, even a rum old-fashioned) but lovers of other dark spirits won't be disapointed: the bourbon and rye offerings are strong as well.

    228 W 47th St,; 646-490-6924

  • Photo by: Studio West Photography

    Frankie's Tiki Room in Las Vegas
    If any town can handle a 24-hour tiki bar, it's Vegas. This one was designed by Bamboo Ben, who happens to be the grandson of Eli Hedley, the beachcomber behind Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, among other famous Polynesian-themed watering holes. Point is: it's got serious tropical chops, in case the carved tiki totems and colorful sea-glass float light fixtures didn't tip you off. The cheeky drink menu includes concoctions like the Bearded Clam (a passionfruit-laced mojito) and the Lava Letch (rum, brandy, raspberry liqueur, ginger beer) - names that probably seem even funnier when you're a few sheets to the wind.

    1712 W. Charleston Blvd.; 702-385-3110

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