Just a few years ago, many bars stocked only three rums: a white, a dark and a spiced. Thanks to the recent resurgence of interest in the spirit, you can now find a big selection of bottlings on drinks menus across the country. Danny Valdéz, national brand ambassador for Zacapa, credits the tiki boom for this trend. “It has brought rum center-stage again,” he says. And there are a number of establishments dedicated to showcasing the popular liquor. Here are a few of our favorites.
Caña Rum Bar, 714 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, 213 745 7090:
This classy downtown watering hole is part of Cedd Moses’ bar empire and offers thirsty drinkers a choice of many fine rums and tasty cocktails created by general manager Allan Katz. The year-old establishment is technically a private club, with a $20 annual membership fee. What to Drink: Crimean Collins (cognac, Jamaican rums, lemon juice, orgeat syrup, Champagne)
La Descarga, 1159 Western Avenue, Los Angeles, 323 466 1324:
No one would blame you for thinking that La Descarga has been around forever. But this East Hollywood bar, which pays homage to Old Havana, opened to much fanfare just last winter. And its long list of well-made cocktails has not disappointed local rum connoisseurs. What to Drink: Daiquiri No. 7 (Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7-Year-Old Rum, orange juice, lime juice, sugar)
PKNY, 49 Essex Street, New York, 212 777 8454:
Over the last couple years, tiki has taken the Big Apple by storm. A leader of the tropical revolution is this Lower East Side spot founded by veteran bartenders Giuseppe Gonzalez and Richard Boccato. The bar offers a giant menu of drinks, which includes a dozen different Daiquiris alone. What to Drink: Missionary’s Downfall (rum, pineapple, lime juice, mint, honey, peach liqueur)
Smuggler’s Cove, 650 Gough Street, San Francisco, 415 869 1900:
The Bay Area has a storied history of rum appreciation: Oakland is, of course, where Trader Vic opened his first bar. And Martin Cate’s Smuggler’s Cove, which launched in December of 2009 (and is pictured above), is helping to sustain that legacy with its range of delicious cocktails made using spirits from across the Caribbean. What to Drink: Mai Tai (Appleton Estate 12-Year-Old Rum, El Dorado 12-Year-Old Rum, Senior Curaçao, lime juice, house-made orgeat, Demerara syrups)
The Squeaky Bean, 3301 Tejon Street, Denver, 303 284 0053:
While it’s not specifically a rum bar per se, The Squeaky Bean’s rum cocktails are, we hear, some of the best in the country. The drinks feature fresh ingredients, many of which are grown in the establishment’s own 1,200-square-foot urban garden. What to Drink: El Presidente (Zacapa Rum, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Grand Marnier and house-made grenadine)
Looking for more great watering holes? Check out our bar guide for the best bars in the world.