8 NYC Rum Drinks to Try Right Now

By Zagat Staff  |  August 14, 2013

Not that we need an excuse to tip back a refreshing rum-based cocktail, but this Friday is the liquor's international day. To celebrate, go beyond the mai tai and check out our list of great rum drinks in NYC. Whether you prefer traditional or fanciful cocktails, you'll find a selection that fits. - Anne Roderique Jones 

  • For the Negroni Lover: The Negroni Leoni at Rum House

    Confession: We’re obsessed with Negronis. This bitter, sweet cocktail tastes good just about any time of the day - and any season of the year. But we like to change things up, and that’s where the Negroni Leoni takes a front seat. This tipple uses Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum, illegal Mezcal (scandalous!), sweet vermouth and Campari. Nino Cirabisi, manager of the Rum House, says that he loves this cocktail because, “it has a more of a smoky quality with the mezcal and a little bit of the sweetness from the Santa Teresa rum.”

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

  • For the Classico: Macao's Lucy Jane

    Danilo Bozovic, who has a serious passion for rum, created the Lucy Jane out of respect for the classics. “Rum has always fascinated me. It is just a very friendly spirit, which works amazingly with other flavors. It’s a spirit that traveled a long way, from plantations and cane fields to aristocratic and royal palaces,” he says. This fruit-forward drink is made with Brugal Extra Dry Rum, Boiron pear purée, lemon, simple syrup and Dale DeGroff Pimento bitters. Here, the texture of the pear and dryness of the rum are perfect partners - not too sweet and perfectly balanced.

    311 Church St. #1; 212-431-8750

  • For the Mad Man: Rum Old Fashioned at Cienfuegos

    Ravi DeRossi’s rum joint is kind of like a chic boutique meets an Alice in Wonderland hideaway. The sleek, white tufted banquettes make the perfect perch for sipping one of the signature rum-heavy cocktails. Our favorite: The Rum Old Fashioned. This sip is perfect for the non-bourbon drinker who still wants to be one of the cool kids. But even if you are a fan of the old fashioned Old Fashioned (couldn’t resist), this is a damn good version of the classic. It’s simple and potent, swirled with Cockspur 12-year rum, sugar and bitters.

    95 Ave. A; 212-614-6818

  • For the Sailor: Hakkasan's Dark & Stormy

    This Asian-inspired den makes a mean non-Asian-inspired cocktail. Bar manager Camille Austin stirs her classic Dark & Stormy with Diplomatico Reserva rum, ginger and Hum liqueur, ginger and lime juice, topped with Fever Tree ginger beer and finished with a float of Jerry Thomas’ Decanter bitters. Austin says, “Our Dark and Stormy is luscious, spicy, and full of flavor, the Diplomatico rum lends beautiful oaky notes that tie in really well with the ginger, kaffir and cardamom flavors in the cocktail.” The effervescent drink is served in its signature bamboo glass and has a dry finish that makes for smooth sipping - even without the sails.

    311 W 43rd St.; 212-766-1818

  • For the Grown Up Pageant Queen: The Lollipop Passion at Sugar Factory

    This Las Vegas outpost is now serving up its sugary sips in the Meatpacking District. The Willy Wonka-esqe candy land is a sugar-lovers dream -especially if you’re slurping the Lollipop Passion. A quick warning: this concoction is a doozy. The goblet (a classier version of the fishbowl) is filled to the brim with coconut rum, melon liquor, silver rum, citron vodka, pineapple juice and sprite. This heavyweight of a bevey has dry ice at the bottom for a smoking effect and is topped with unicorn lollipops and a candy necklace. It’s like a grown-up’s go-go juice. Colin Anderson, bar coordinator, says that it’s Sugar Factory’s most popular beverage and, “The crowd who comes in for this are looking for a big, fruity, colorful drink.”

    46 Gansevoort St.; 212-414-8700

  • The Old-Schooler: Otto’s Shrunken Head Mai Tai

    This East Village dive was doing tiki before it was cool. Otto’s, the city’s first real tiki bar, is a local hangout with live rockabilly acts and campy island decor. And its Mai Tai is a classic, made with light, gold and dark rum, orgeat, lime juice and orange liquor, served in a fun, fanciful vessel. Nell Mellon, the owner and bartender at Otto’s says that the Mai Tai is one of the most popular drinks. “It is truly a classic and the one most people have heard of and associate with tiki bars. I think it's the benchmark drink that people use to judge a tiki bar. If they do a Mai Tai correctly, then the rest of the drinks will be good too,” says Mellon. Bonus: garnish includes a paper umbrella, fancy straw and plastic monkey.

    528 E 14th St.; 212-228-2240

  • The Cubano: Cuba's Classic Mojito

    This wouldn’t be a proper rum story without the mojito. Sure, this drink evokes memories of the late 90s cocktail craze, but a true mojito - made properly - can be one of the most refreshing beverages around. Cuba, a cozy cantina in the West Village, makes its version of the classic with Santa Teresa Claro rum, lime, sugar, mint and club soda. It’s simple and authentic. While the menu is chock-full of various iterations, from champagne floated to the ginger-infused, the classic is where it’s at. In addition to top-notch bites, Cuba offers patrons complimentary fresh, hand-rolled cigars to enjoy après cocktails and live music that really gets the party started. 

    222 Thompson St.; 212-420-7878

  • For the Juicer: The Kamanawanalaya at Boulton and Watt

    With the worn-in fixtures and warm communal seating, this East Village bar-resto is one of those places that's built for session drinking - especially if you’ve ordered the Kamanawanalaya. This grown-up rum drink is made with Brugal Extra Dry rum, Brugal Anejo Rum, Campari, pineapple, passion fruit and lime. The almost-feels-like-it’s-good-for-you cocktail is fruit-forward, a smidge bitter and ultra refreshing. Naturally, you’ll want to have more than one.

    5 Ave. A; 646-490-6004