How to Make the Best Cocktails with Dark Rum

How to Make the Best Cocktails with Dark Rum

Most cocktail drinkers know there are different types of rum—not just different brands but different methods of making rum that produce various flavors. The most obvious difference is light rum versus dark rum.

But even cocktail lovers don’t necessarily know what different types of rum are, how they’re made, and what makes them unique. Essentially, it’s to each their own, but understanding more about rum makes for more informed and tasty experiences.

Dark rum cocktails are delicious, no doubt. But why choose dark rum over white rum? What’s the difference?

What Is Dark Rum?

Dark rum is made of the same spirit as traditional light or white rum but is aged longer, hence either the black or dark brown color. Some popular dark rum brands include the Kraken, Plantation, and Captain Morgan. 

The main difference between dark rum and white rum is color, and that’s due to the length of time rum has aged. 

The darkness of the rum is usually an indicator of how long it’s been aged—the longer the rum is stored in the barrel, the more it absorbs the color and even the taste of the wood. However, some brands will add caramel or coloring to change the color of unaged rum.

White Rum

White rum can also be called clear, silver, or light rum due to its lack of color from none or very little aging. Then, it will usually have any color removed by charcoal filtration. Popular white rum brands include Bacardi, Owney’s White Rum, and Havana Club Anejo Blanco.

Gold Rum

Gold rum is like the middle ground between dark and white rum. It’s also called pale, amber, or golden rum and is aged longer than white rum but not as long as dark rum.

Spiced Rum

Sailors and pirates often added spices and other flavors into their rum to hide the rough taste of low-quality alcohol, hence the name. Spiced rum is infused with spices and can be sweeter depending on what’s added to it. Spiced rum cocktails are often fruity, gingery, and spicy. A popular spiced rum brand is Sailor Jerry.

Cocktails with Dark Rum

Everyone will have different tastes when it comes to which rum to use in their cocktails with dark rum. Some will like a certain brand for a rum and cola, while others will want it to mix with their cocktails. These are some dark rum cocktails to try with your favorite brands.

Mai Tai

Originating in the 1940s, the Mai tai is often attributed to Trader Vic’s restaurant in Oakland, California. A true Mai Tai is tropical, nutty, zingy, and strong. Considered one of the most famous Tiki drinks in the world, this cocktail offers a complex taste that’s ideal for sipping on a sunny afternoon or at a lively summer party.


Serving Size: 1 drink

Prep Time: About 5 minutes

Equipment Needed:

Cocktail shaker

Rocks glass or lowball glass

Spoon (for floating the dark rum)


1 1/2 oz white rum

3/4 oz dark or aged rum

3/4 oz fresh lime or lemon juice

1/2 oz orange curaçao or triple sec 

1/2 oz orgeat syrup (almond syrup) 


Lime wheel, cherry, or pineapple slice for garnishes 


  1. Combine the white rum, fresh lime or lemon juice, orange curaçao, and orgeat syrup with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well until the mixture is chilled.
  2. Strain the contents into a rocks glass or lowball glass filled with ice.
  3. Carefully pour the dark or aged rum over the back of a spoon so it floats on top of the drink.
  4. Garnish with your choice of a lime wheel, mint sprig, cherry, or pineapple slice.
  5. Serve and enjoy your Mai Tai.

Jungle Bird

The Jungle Bird, a tropical rum drink with a twist, was created in the 1970s at the Aviary bar of the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. This is one of the classic dark rum cocktails known for its intriguing blend of sweet and bitter flavors, combining the richness of dark rum with the bitter notes of Campari and the sweetness of pineapple juice. 

It's an ideal drink for summer gatherings, happy hours, tiki-themed parties, or just as a refreshing and complex sipper on a warm day.


Serving Size: 1 drink

Prep Time: approximately 3–5 minutes

Equipment Needed

Cocktail shaker

Rocks glass



1 1/2 oz dark rum 

3/4 oz Campari 

1 1/2 oz pineapple juice 

1/2 oz lime juice 

1/2 oz simple syrup 


Pineapple wedge and leaves for garnish


  1. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add the dark rum, Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice, and simple syrup to the shaker.
  3. Shake vigorously until well-chilled and frothy.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and leaves, if desired.
  6. Serve and enjoy your Jungle Bird.

Tip: Adjust the Campari amount if you prefer a less bitter taste, or substitute it with Aperol to make it even sweeter.


Bring in the Mardi Gras with the Hurricane, a New Orleans classic. Known for its fruity and strong blend, this cocktail was created in the 1940s at a bar due to a surplus of rum. It’s named for the hurricane lamp-shaped glasses it was originally served in and is perfect for cocktail hours or as a summer vacation drink.


Serving Size: 1 drink

Prep Time: About 5–10 minutes

Equipment Needed

Cocktail shaker

Hurricane glass


2 oz light rum

2 oz dark rum

2–3 oz passion fruit juice

1 oz orange juice 

1/2 oz lime or lemon juice

1/2 oz grenadine

1/2 oz simple syrup (optional)

Orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish


  1. Fill a shaker with ice and add the light rum, dark rum, passion fruit juice, orange juice, lime juice, grenadine, and simple syrup (if using).
  2. Shake the mixture vigorously until well-chilled.
  3. Strain the cocktail into a large hurricane glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
  5. Serve and enjoy your Hurricane cocktail.

Dark ‘N’ Stormy

The Dark ‘N’ Stormy is a highball drink that combines the rich, earthy tones of dark rum with the spicy kick of ginger beer, often enhanced with a squeeze of tangy lime. 

British naval officers during World War I brewed ginger beer to combat seasickness and combined it with dark rum, creating a refreshing drink with bold flavors.


Serving Size: 1 drink

Prep Time: 2–5 minutes

Equipment Needed

Highball glass

Cocktail shaker (optional)

Spoon (if you prefer to layer the drink)


2 oz dark rum 

3 oz spicy ginger beer

Juice of half a lime (optional, but recommended for added zest)


Lime wheel or wedge for garnish


  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. If using fresh lime juice, squeeze it directly into the glass.
  3. Pour in the ginger beer.
  4. Carefully add the dark rum with the ginger beer. To create a layered effect, pour it slowly over the back of a spoon.
  5. Stir gently, if desired, or leave layered.
  6. Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.
  7. Serve and enjoy your Dark ‘N’ Stormy.

Bonus: If you want your Dark ‘N’ Stormy to have a brighter and sweeter taste to contrast the spicy flavor of dark rum and ginger beer, add some freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and some brown sugar. 


The Painkiller is a rich and fruity cocktail, similar to a Pina Colada. Instead of using light rum, traditionally, it’s made with dark or aged rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut. It has a tropical, sweet, and creamy taste that’s especially popular as a summertime or beach drink.


Serving Size: 1 drink

Prep Time: About 5 minutes

Equipment Needed:  



Glass (typically a highball glass)


Rum (preferably dark or aged): 2 oz

Pineapple Juice: 4 oz

Orange Juice: 1 oz

Cream of Coconut: 1 oz


Grated nutmeg and a pineapple wedge or cherry


  1. Fill the shaker with ice.
  2. Add rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut.
  3. Shake well until the mixture is chilled.
  4. Strain into a glass filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a pineapple wedge or cherry.

More Dark Rum Drinks

Here are more dark rum cocktails for you to try. One of these may just become your new favorite:

Mojito with Dark Rum

A twist on the classic mojito, this tasty drink uses dark rum along with mint leaves, raw sugar, lime, and seltzer water. This variation offers a bolder and spicier flavor compared to the traditional version​​​​.

Bahama Mama

This tropical drink includes both dark and coconut rum, grenadine, pineapple juice, and orange juice, embodying a quintessential Caribbean flavor​​.

Hot Buttered Rum

This cocktail offers a rich and sweetly spiced taste ideal for autumn or winter days. Its velvety texture is enhanced by butter, while spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add depth to its flavor.

Navy Grog

The Navy Grog is a potent drink with a mix of three types of rum, fresh citrus, honey syrup, and soda. It's a product of tiki culture—sip this strong drink slowly​​.

Zombie Cocktail

This delicious cocktail is a complex and potent rum-based drink with four types of rum, three fruit juices, and two fruit syrups, known for its long ingredient list and unique fruity-spicy flavor​​.

Rum Punch

Ideal for serving a crowd, Rum Punch is easy to make and features a blend of fruit juices with dark rum, perfect for hot days and pool parties​​.

Café Caribbean

This unique cocktail combines dark rum and amaretto liqueur with hot coffee. Often sweetened and sometimes cream-based, Caribbean Coffee embodies a warm and cozy drink perfect for chilly evenings.

Remember: Any rum cocktail can be a dark rum cocktail. If there are rum cocktails you’d love to turn into dark rum cocktails, whether the recipe called for light or spiced rum, do it.

Make Easy Dark Rum Cocktails with Bartesian

Craft premium cocktails with Bartesian’s cocktail maker! Bartesian has a great selection of rum cocktail capsules to choose from to create your favorite dark rum cocktail. 

Use our cocktail maker to try different brands and different types of rum to find out what your favorite rum cocktails are. Put your preferred dark rum in the spirit reservoir, place a rum capsule, choose your desired strength, and press “Mix.” You’ll be relaxing on your couch, drink in hand, in less than 30 seconds.

Sign up for a subscription to receive monthly refills on delicious cocktail capsules. Bring lounge-quality cocktails home today with Bartesian.