Making the Best Cocktails with Rum

Making the Best Cocktails with Rum

Rum is an incredibly versatile spirit that mixes well with a variety of mixers and chasers and can be enjoyed just as well on its own or with a splash of cola.

Whether you’re new to rum or you’ve been enjoying it for years, there’s certainly more than meets the eye when it comes to this silky-smooth liquid. This post highlights the key differences between dark and light rum and the best cocktails that you can make with various types of rum. 

Dark Rum vs. White Rum

Before we jump into delicious rum cocktails, it’s important to understand the main differences between dark and white rum. 

The main difference between both rums is color, primarily from how long the rum was aged. 

The longer the rum is aged in a barrel, the more it absorbs the flavors and the color of the barrel it’s stored in.​

White rum is barely aged, while dark rum varieties are aged anywhere from three years to 20 years. Aged rum tends to be much darker and more distinct than lighter rum and can be deep amber, gold, or jet black. 

The darkness of the rum is usually an indicator of it having been aged for longer. However, some brands will add caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, or coloring to change the color even if the rum hasn’t been aged.

Flavor Profiles of White vs. Dark Rum

Dark rum is rich, intense, bold, and even smoky, while white is usually more subtle and sweet and can be easily concealed by other flavors in any rum drink. 

White rum is often used in sweet and sour cocktails blended with juices, bitters, and other extracts to create refreshing, fruity flavors. Dark rum, on the other hand, is often used in richer, more robust cocktails that highlight its deeper flavors of smoky molasses, spices, and caramel.

Dark and light rum go through similar distillation processes—light rum is distilled in a column still to support continuous distillation. In contrast, dark versions are still distilled in a pot, which helps keep the spirit’s ingredients intact for a more flavorful drinking experience.

Other Variations of Rum

Golden Rum

Gold or amber rum is aged in wooden casks to create a handsome color with a smooth, mellow flavor with notes of vanilla, caramel, citrus, and even coconut. Gold rum is aged longer than white rum but not as long as dark rum.

Spiced Rum

This kind of rum is infused with spices like cloves, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon and is an excellent choice for cocktails. Popular spiced rum brands include Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry, Kraken, and Blackheart.

Flavor-Infused Rum

To add extra flavor to specific rum cocktails, many brands of rum offer delicious infused flavors for a unique drinking experience. Popular flavor-infused variations include banana, mango, orange, lime, or coconut rum.

The Best Rum Cocktails

Now that you know everything there is to know about rum, it’s time to explore the best cocktails you can mix with rum for a delicious, refreshing treat. Whether you’re on a Caribbean island in the sun, enjoying a day at the pool, or anywhere in between, a rum drink in your hand is the perfect companion.

Jungle Bird

For a relaxing rainforest and tiki vibe, the Jungle Bird is a worthy cocktail of choice. The smooth blend of pineapple juice, lime juice, and Angostura bitters creates a tantalizing mix of sweet, tart, and slightly bitter flavors. 

This cocktail is perfect as a refreshing after-dinner drink, to be savored by the lake, on the beach, or while hosting guests at home. It’s a standout choice for those seeking a tropical escape.


Experience the bright sights and sounds of New Orleans with the tropical Hurricane cocktail. A vibrant New Orleans classic born at Pat O'Brien's bar in the 1940s, this tropical cocktail is a mix of light and dark rums, passion fruit juice or puree, orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and grenadine. 

It’s fruity, sweet, slightly tart, and simply refreshing. Best enjoyed on warm, sunny days, or anytime you want to bring a taste of Mardi Gras to your gathering, the Hurricane offers a sip of festive spirit with every glass.

Did You Know? The Hurricane cocktail was so named because the glass it was served in resembled a hurricane lamp.

Rum Breeze

The Rum Breeze is the perfect cocktail for those warm, lazy afternoons or as a refreshing end to a long day. Typically made with white rum, strawberry juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, and a splash of coconut, this cocktail is light, fruity, and tart, making it an ideal choice for summer parties, beach gatherings, or whenever you're in the mood for a drink that feels like a mini-vacation in a glass.

Long Island Iced Tea

The Long Island Iced Tea is a powerhouse cocktail, blending vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and triple sec, topped with cola and a hint of Angostura bitters for a surprisingly smooth taste. Despite its potent mix of spirits seemingly thrown together, it's deceptively easy to drink, as it mimics the taste of sweet iced tea. 

Originating in the 1970s, this cocktail has become a favorite for its strong buzz and deliciously simple flavor. Best enjoyed on lively nights out or at spirited gatherings, it's a drink that promises a good time but should be savored responsibly.

Mai Tai

Often enjoyed on a beach vacation, the Mai Tai is a classic cocktail ideal for warm, sunny days with friends. Known as one of the most popular tiki drinks in the world, this cocktail has a smooth combination of light and dark rums that’s surprisingly mellow.

The unique kick of sweet almond inspires relaxing beachside energy, and orange and pineapple juices add a tropical touch, making you feel close to the sea with each sip. Enjoy this classic cocktail during relaxed, warm afternoons for a taste of vacation bliss.


The Painkiller cocktail, originating from the British Virgin Islands in the 1970s, is a rich blend of dark rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, and orange juice, topped with grated nutmeg. This drink offers a creamy, tropical taste that's both sweet and tangy.

Ideal for beach days, vacations, weekends, or a relaxing after-work drink, the Painkiller promises to transport you to sandy shores with its lush flavors and soothing effect.

Rum Runner

For a sunny, smooth rum cocktail, the Rum Runner checks every box. Believed to have originated in the Florida Keys during the 1950s, this drink features a vibrant mix of dark and light rums, banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice, and a splash of grenadine. 

This cocktail is fruity, sweet, and slightly tart, making it a perfectly tasty tropical escape. Best enjoyed poolside or at a summer gathering, the Rum Runner offers a taste of paradise with every sip, embodying the spirit of its smuggling namesake with a hint of adventure.

Rum Punch

The tastiest sour rum cocktail on this list is undoubtedly Rum Punch! Considered the easiest variation of a punch cocktail, this drink is made with various rums with tropical juices like pineapple, orange, and sometimes lime or lemon juice, along with a splash of grenadine for sweetness and color. 

The various citrus juices provide a vibrant, sour kick to the cocktail, making it a wonderful addition to any summer vacation, weekend at the pool, or just relaxing in the backyard.


Originating in Cuba, the Daiquiri may be the most famous rum cocktail on this list, and for good reason. The Daiquiri is a vacation classic with three simple ingredients: rum, lime juice, and simple syrup or sugar. This cocktail offers a crisp, refreshing taste that balances sweet and sour perfectly. Its simplicity and bright flavor make it ideal for hot weather.

It can be poured as is or tossed in a blender with ice then served as a frozen slushie, serving as a perfect refreshment on a sunny day or a tropical-themed party.

Rum Swizzle

Hailed as Bermuda’s national drink, the Rum Swizzle mixes various rums with orange and pineapple juice, falernum or simple syrup, and Angostura bitters, often garnished with a slice of orange or a cherry. It's rich, spicy, and slightly sweet, making it a perfect companion for relaxing evenings or social gatherings.

Tip: To truly enjoy a Rum Swizzle, try to top off your drink with an authentic swizzle stick—a small branch taken from a tree native to the Caribbean.

Pina Colada

The Pina Colada, Puerto Rico’s national drink, can be enjoyed all year round, but it’s most popular in the spring and summertime. It’s the perfect combination of aged rum, frozen pineapple, cream of coconut, and lime juice—creamy, sweet, and delightfully fruity.

If you’re unsure what to create in your home bar, the Pina Colada is always a fantastic choice.

Create Classic Rum Cocktails with Bartesian

Impress your guests by making the best of these classic rum cocktails on demand with Bartesian’s cocktail maker! Simply put your favorite rum in the spirit reservoir, select your rum cocktail capsule, choose your desired strength, and press “Mix.” You’ll be teleported to the tropics in less than 30 seconds.

Bring lounge-quality cocktails home today with the Bartesian.