Loved by pirates and the quintessential spirit of summer, rum’s amber hue and complex and spicy flavor make it a firm favorite. But when it comes to mixing drinks with rum, you need to know what pairs best with this sweet, earthy spirit. Here are the best things to mix with rum, including all the best mixers, aromatics, and more.
Rum’s Flavor Profile & Origin
Rum (or rhum) is made from fermented sugarcane or molasses, giving it a rich, caramel-like flavor and color with layers of tropical fruit and citrus zest. It comes in dark, spiced, or white varieties, all of which have their own unique flavor and fragrance characteristics. However, the most prominent flavor associations with rum are:
- Brown sugar
- Warm spices (cinnamon, clove, and aniseed)
Rum was first created on sugarcane plantations in Barbados and the Caribbean. However, it quickly spread to other parts of the world, such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Today, you can find it just about anywhere—and in a wide variety of cocktails, desserts, and dishes.
The Best Mixers For Rum
Rum makes an excellent addition to any cocktail. Whether you’re mixing a Dark & Stormy, a Moscow Mule, or a Pina Colada, there are seemingly endless ways to appreciate this rich, sweetly spicy form of alcohol.
But every great spirit needs a great mixer to blend with it and add lightness, freshness, and flavor balance to the drink as a whole. When it comes to mixers, rum pairs best with:
You might be most familiar with a classic gin and tonic, but tonic water pairs surprisingly well with rum, too. This sweet, fizzy, ever-so-slightly bitter mixer complements the sweetness of rum beautifully and serves as a flexible base for any other flavors you want to add later on.
Ginger beer or ginger ale
Ginger and rum go together like cheese and fine wine, especially when it comes to spiced rum. The earthy bite of ginger cuts through the rum’s sweetness and plays into the characteristic spiciness of its cinnamon and clove undertones.
They say what grows together, goes together. And this is certainly true for sugarcane rum and coconut water, as they share origins in the tropical regions of the Caribbean.
Coconut water is light, fruity, and incredibly refreshing, and it’s full of electrolytes too. This makes it the perfect addition to a rum cocktail. It’s a very traditional, natural-feeling combination that will always taste delicious—think, pina coladas on the beach at sunset, and you get the idea!
Tart, bright, and bursting with sunshiney sweetness, fresh OJ is a great mixer for any type of rum. It plays into the tropical notes of rum and adds a refreshing, zesty personality to this unique spirit. It’s also super refreshing and works well with lots of different cocktails.
Rum and Coke are an iconic pairing that you can find at just about any bar or beach shack around the world. Coke is also made from sugarcane, giving it an instant connection to rum, and its dark, rich caramel flavors make it a good choice to complement a complex, dark rum.
Iced Tea – The Unsuspected Mixer
This might sound weird, but iced tea is actually a great drink to mix with rum. It balances out the sweetness and adds a unique twist. Throw in some fresh mint and a squeeze of lime, and you’ve got yourself a delicious cocktail great for hot days.
The Best Aromatics For Rum
No cocktail is complete without some aromatics. These can include herbs, flowers, spices, fruits, and more. When it comes to rum, there are a few aromatics you should become familiar with:
Rum can be quite a rich and heavy spirit to use in cocktails, especially if it’s a double shot. But when you add something as bright, tart, and citrussy as a fresh lime, that problem disappears. Add fresh lime juice, grated zest, or whole lime slices to bring out some brightness in your rum.
If you want to draw out the spicy notes of rum, cinnamon is a great aromatic to use. Gentle enough that it doesn’t overpower rum’s nuances but strong enough to contend against them, the sweet but subtle spiciness of cinnamon is a great combo worth trying.
For those among us who prefer a mellow rum cocktail, try coaxing out its softer side with some fresh vanilla. Vanilla is naturally sweet but not overpowering, making it the perfect aromatic for pairing with rum’s molasses-y undertones.
Rosemary is a spiky, dark green herb with a lemon-pine flavor. It also has notes of pepper and wood, making it a very grounding and earthy addition to rum-based cocktails.
Other Flavors That Pair Well With Rum
Not every flavor that is compatible with rum can be categorized as a mixer or an aromatic. There are many other unique fruits and food varieties that make the sugary, complex notes of rum sing. Here are some of the best:
Pina Coladas are one of the best examples of what happens when you mix pineapple with coconut and rum—something magical happens. The high acidity level and sweetness of pineapple cut right through the richness of rum and create a symphony of tropical flavor.
But you don’t have to have a cocktail to enjoy the flavor explosion of pineapple and rum. You can use it in a wide variety of pineapple-inspired dishes too!
Ceviche is like the fish equivalent of a raw beef tartare. The freshness of tropical seafood like tuna, tilapia, or mackerel with a light, clean rum hits the spot every time.
Ceviche is usually dressed with a high-acidity vinaigrette made of citrus fruit. When mixed with the refreshing, citrus-forward flavors of ceviche mean that a shot or two of white rum produces an excellent food pairing.
When it comes to desserts, caramel and rum are a match made in heaven. You can add rum to sweet sauces, into ice cream, or in glazes of all kinds.
The Magic of a Daiquiri
Daiquiris are a blend of rum, citrus juice (usually lime), and some sort of sweetener like simple syrup. A classic Daiquiri is a minimalist’s dream and a great way to appreciate good rum.
- When it comes to rum cocktails, a Strawberry Daiquiri is where these berries shine the brightest. Just blend strawberries, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.
- The Hemingway Daiquiri is a legendary cocktail named after the author Ernest Hemingway. Light rum, grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur, and a splash of fresh lemon juice make this a classic drink people love making with rum.
If you have a cocktail shaker, this is the time to bust it out. Shake up those ingredients with some ice, and voila!
Mix It Up Right
Rum is one of the world’s oldest, most beloved spirits. Hailing from Caribbean sugarcane plantations and pirate ships, this spicy, molasses-rich form of alcohol is as complex as it is tasty, but only when used in the right quantities and with the right mixers. This is something every qualified bartender will know all about. But if you follow our guidelines, you can create your own delicious drinks too.
Pairing best with flavors and aromatics that share similar tropical backgrounds, rum remains a favorite for all the right reasons.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a healthy mixer for rum?
The best things to mix with rum if you’re keeping it on the healthier side are coconut water or soda water. No added sugar and you’ll still get that refreshing kick. Freshly squeezed citrus juices like lime, lemon, or orange juice also work wonders. Packed with vitamins, you can pretend you’re doing your body a favor while sipping on a tasty cocktail.
Is Sprite good with rum?
Sprite and rum, my friends, is a match made in fizzy, sweet heaven. The sweetness and citrusy notes of Sprite go hand-in-hand with almost any type of rum—be it white rum, dark rum, or spiced rum. This combo is simple, but it packs a ton of flavors. If you’re new to the rum game, this is a good place to start.
What are the most popular rum drinks?
Ah, rum—the star of many classic cocktails! First, you’ve got the Mojito, made with mint, lime juice, and white rum. Then there’s the Pina Colada that’s made with coconut, pineapple juice, and rum. Don’t forget the Cuba Libre, which is just rum, lime wedges, and good ol’ coke. Daiquiris and Rum Punch also make the list. These rum cocktails are what I call the classics, baby!
What is rum and Dr. Pepper called?
Ready for this? Rum and Dr. Pepper together make a “Dr. Rum” or “Rum & Doctor.” Cute name, right? It’s a drink that combines the complexity of rum with the 23 flavors in Dr. Pepper. It’s like a little party in your mouth!
What’s a good mix with dark rum?
If you’ve got a bottle of dark rum and are wondering what to mix it with, ginger beer is your best bet, especially if you want to whip up a Dark ‘n Stormy. The spicy ginger beer complements the richness of dark rum perfectly. You can add a dash of Angostura bitters and a maraschino cherry for a finishing touch.
Apple cider (or apple juice) and hot chocolate are also solid mixer choices for a cozy night in.
What is the most popular rum drink?
Gotta give it to the classic Mojito. It’s simple, it’s refreshing, and it’s got that minty freshness that we all love. A well-made Mojito is like summer in a glass, with its mix of white rum (usually about 1.5 to 2 ounces of rum), mint, lime juice, and club soda. I mean, can you really go wrong with these ingredients?
Which drink is best for rum?
In my humble opinion, the Pina Colada wins this one. You’ve got coconut cream, pineapple juice, and a healthy dose of white rum. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and you’re all set for paradise!
What is most spiced rum flavored with?
Spiced rum usually gets its kick from spices like cloves, cinnamon, and sometimes even pepper. The flavor complexity varies from one brand to another, but these spices are the usual suspects.
Can I mix rum with water?
Yes! If you’re into sipping rum and want to mellow out its taste, a splash of water won’t hurt. It’s also not a bad idea if you’re trying to cut calories. However, just know it won’t be winning any flavor awards anytime soon.