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The Complete Guide to Rum: 5 Rum Key Facts and Origins

Table of Contents

As a drink with a lot of history, there's a lot to learn about rum. This guide to rum is the place to learn about rum through the ages, and rum as we know it today. From types of rum to rum cocktails to the history of rum. This guide to rum is the start of your journey of learning about this delicious drink.

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Types of Rum

There’s quite a large variety of types of rum to choose from. Overall, rum is split into two categories: white and dark rum. Within these categories, there’s a variety of different types of rum that vary depending on how they’re made and what they are used for. There are rums that are great for drinking straight, and rums that work with different types of cocktails. Overall, this guide to types of rum will help you learn what’s out there, and what you can do with different types of rum. 

What Types of Rum Are There

The types of rum include:

  • Light rum 
  • Gold rum 
  • Dark rum 
  • Black rum 
  • Spiced rum 
  • Rhum agricole 
  • Cachaça 
  • Overproof rum 

These types of rum all have their own special qualities and their own uses that make them great for different types of drinks. While they’re all excellent in their own way, which one is right for you will depend on what you like to drink. Some will have you wondering "How much is one part?" for mixing a drink, while others are perfect for a straightforward shot.

What Type of Rum for Piña colada

If Piña coladas are your drink of choice, you’ll generally want to invest in a lighter rum. Light rums work well with the pineapple and coconut flavoring to offer a sweet experience all around. That said, there are also some great Piña coladas that use dark rum, and even mixes of light and dark rum. The Piña colada is a versatile drink, so experimenting with the rums you enjoy will lead to some interesting Piña colada mixes. 

What Type of Rum for Eggnog

For a holiday rum treat, eggnog is always a good option. Eggnog pairs best with a dark or black rum, to bring some of the molasses flavors to the creamy, delicious experience of eggnog. If you want to experiment with your own eggnog, a good place to start is the list of ingredients. Generally, eggnog includes:

  • Egg yolks
  • Granulated sugar
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Milk 
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon (as a garnish)
  • Your choice of rum

Of course, you can always go the store bought route too. Whichever method you choose, mixing your eggnog with some dark rum will be a great way to spice up your holidays. 

What Type of Rum for Rum and Coke

And of course, there’s the classic rum and coke. Most rum and coke recipes use white rum, but since this drink is so straightforward, you can really use any rum you like. From spiced rum to dark rum, any option is a good place to start. And, in addition to different rums, you can always mix up your rum and coke with different ingredients. From champagne versions to a Cuba Libre with a twist of lime, there are options to spice up your rum and coke.

What Type of Rum Did Pirates Drink

If you’re looking to have some historical fun with rum, another great option is learning what type of rum did pirates drink. Back in the day, pirates weren’t too discerning about what type of rums they drank. Generally they would be found enjoying something called grog, or rum grog. Grog was a mix of:

  • Rum
  • Sugar
  • Lime
  • Water

These days you can find Pirate’s Grog Rum, or you can wear your pirate hat and simply enjoy your favorite rum.

Types of Rum

Ultimately, all the types of rum out there are great for different reasons. From different cocktails to different occasions, to themed bars, there’s a rum for every person, bartender, and drink you can mix up.

Rum Origin and History

Rum has quite a long history. Since around 1650 in the West Indies, rum has been changing the liquor world and the way people drink. Though rum has changed through the years, the base of rum is rooted in molasses and sugarcane. The history of rum isn’t something we can be entirely proud of, but the end product is something that many people proudly make today. 

Rum Origin

The origin of rum started out way back in the 1300s. This first rudimentary rum was known as “wine sugar.” While it wasn’t close to what we enjoy today, it was, at its base, the first step towards rum. 

Rum Beginnings

In the 1650s, something more closely resembling rum came around. This drink was called “rumbullion” or “kill-devil” until 1667 when the name rum became popular. These first rum mixes were tied to a dark history across the world. Rum, both in creation and trading, was closely tied to slavery. In fact, the invention of rum happened on a sugarcane plantation. We don’t know exactly who invented rum. We do, however, know that it was enslaved people who figured out the fermentation process of sugarcane and molasses to create rum. 

The start of rum on sugarcane plantations then moved to the creation and production of rum in New England. Once rum got its foothold in New England, it began to be produced on a mass scale. As rum production grew, it was linked to Jamaica, Barbados, Demerara, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These days, rum is produced in these spots and many others, and the variety of rum available has grown exponentially.

Rum Origin & History

The history of rum covers a lot of ground. From starts in slavery to businesses rum makers can be proud of, rum has changed a lot through the years. Rum has grown into something that is used in bars and restaurants and homes across the world.

What is a Rum Runner?

To answer the question of what is a rum runner, we’ll take a look back at the 1920s and Prohibition in America. When Prohibition took effect on January 17, 1920, there were plenty of Americans who simply couldn’t get by without some alcohol. The demand for alcohol created a demand for bootlegged alcohol, and of course, bootleggers to bring alcohol into the Prohibition zone. 

The demand for bootlegged alcohol led to the first rum runners. These runners would bring alcohol, mainly rum but, over time, other drinks as well, into the US. Rumrunners would mainly use boats to transport their wares. The original rum runners would bring rum from the Caribbean islands. They'd sail their boats to just outside of the line of Prohibition, then get the rum into the US on smaller boats. 

Infamy at Sea

A rum runner who has gone down in history by name is Bill McCoy. Captain McCoy was one of the first rum runners. He and his ship, the Tomoka, were responsible for bringing in quite a lot of rum from Bimini and the Bahamas. McCoy was savvy and tough and was quite successful for some time. Eventually, however, he was caught, tried, and kicked out of the US and the rum-running business. That said, his legacy granted him infamy and the nickname “The Real McCoy” which we still use as a phrase today. The legacy of McCoy and all the rum runners carries on today. The legacy lives in history, as well as in bars and restaurants borrowing the name, and the rum drink of the same name. 

Rum Runner Drink

The legacy of the rum runners lives on long after the need for rum runners has passed. Across the US there are bars and restaurants that borrow the rum runner name for their establishments. There’s also the longstanding legacy of the rum runner drink. The rum runner drink started out in the 1950s at a Tiki bar in Florida called Holiday Isle. The drink has evolved through many bars and restaurants, but the legacy of the rum runners remains in every bar and drink mix.

What Goes into a Rum Runner Drink?

The rum runner cocktail recipe varies from bar to bar, from bartender to bartender. That said, there are some key ingredients that pretty much every rum runner includes. Those are:

  • Rum
  • Banana liqueur
  • Grenadine

In addition to these staples of the drink, you'll also often find rum runners that include:

  • Coconut rum
  • Blackberry liquor
  • Pineapple juice
  • Orange juice

When it comes down to it, there's a rum runner mix out there for every rum drinker to enjoy.

How to Make a Rum Runner

To make your own rum runner, you can follow this Liquor.com recipe. For ingredients, you'll need:

  • 1 ounce of light rum
  • 1 ounce of navy-strength rum
  • ½ ounce of blackberry liqueur
  • 1 ounce of banana liqueur
  • 2 ounces of pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce of lime juice
  • ½ ounce of grenadine
  • Brandied cherries and a pineapple wedge for the garnish

Mix it all up in a shaker or jar, then strain it into a hurricane glass, or any glass you like, filled with crushed ice. Then, skewer the cherries and pineapple wedge to make the garnish. Sip your cocktail, and enjoy the legacy of the rum runners.

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How to Make a Cocktail with Rum

The versatility of rum means that you really can’t go wrong with a rum cocktail. From juices to garnishes to sweet treats, you can mix almost anything with rum to make a great drink. This list is a good place to start looking at some of the best rum cocktail recipe options.

Guide to Rum & Pineapple Juice Cocktails

You can’t go wrong with rum and pineapple juice cocktails. With classics like the Piña colada and rum punch, these two treats, paired together, make some of the best rum cocktails. Some of the best rum and pineapple cocktails include:

  • Piña colada - sweet and delicious, this is a classic for a reason
  • Rum and pineapple juice - simple but delicious
  • Pineapple mojitos - mint and pineapple are quite the pair
  • Rum punch - this will take you back to the early rum cocktail days
  • Bahama mama - for a tropical treat, this drink lives up to its name

Guide to Rum & Peach Cocktail Delights

Rum is also perfectly suited to mix with peach in cocktails. Peach and rum cocktails are generally on the sweeter side of the rum cocktail spectrum. That said, the peach flavor can be used in many ways to create some truly unique flavors. The best peach cocktails of varying flavors include:

  • Peach daiquiris - what a sweet treat
  • Cuban rum and peach cocktails - simple and delicious
  • Peach mojitos - mint and peach makes quite the pair
  • Lemon rum and grilled peach cocktails - unique and oh so tasty

The Sweet Treats

Rum naturally lends itself to sweet cocktails, but there are some that are even sweeter than most. For anyone looking for the sweetest treats, these are a good place to start:

  • Bushwacker cocktail - the classic Bushwacker is the perfect chocolate and coconut treat
  • The Bee’s Kiss - sweeter than the bee’s knees, this honey rum concoction is to die for
  • Strawberry daiquiris - strawberries make this the sweetest of the daiquiris

Rum for the Holidays

For holiday cocktails, rum holds a special place in the holiday season. From eggnog to hot toddies, the chilly winter holidays call for some of the best rum cocktails. The list includes:

  • Pumpkin spiced rum cocktails - the holidays aren’t complete with pumpkin spice
  • Cherry eggnog - a cherry twist on the classic holiday tradition
  • Hot toddy - rum and warmth, does it get any better?

Guide to Rum Cocktails For Every Season

Although some of these rum cocktails are perfect for specific occasions, you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

Rum Cake

Of all the rum concoctions out there, one of the sweetest treats is rum cake. Rum cake has a long history in the world of rum, starting out in the Caribbean and moving across the world. Traditionally, the original Caribbean rum cakes are a holiday dessert. These classic cakes are similar to fruit cakes, with the difference of a slightly lighter texture. There are rum cakes out there, specifically made in Trinidad and Tobago, that use cherry brandy as a preservative. Puerto Rico rum cakes are more of a sponge cake, which absorbs the rum for a truly unique flavor. 

In the US, Caribbean rum cake is very popular. There are also a variety of rum cakes being made throughout the US with different twists on classic recipes. Across the board of rum cake types, there is the general factor of dried fruit being used in the cakes. However, even this consistency across the cakes can be worked with, from using fresh fruits to soaking the fruit in rum. 

How to Make Rum Cake

When it comes to making rum cake, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can mix up your recipe with different fruits or nuts, and experiment with different types of rum. You can use a boxed cake mix, or make everything from scratch. Rum cake is quite versatile, so the options are endless. 

If you’re not sure where to start, there are some great recipes online. A few options are:

And if you want to experiment with your own mixes, there are plenty of ingredients to try out. For the rum and beverage options, you can use:

  • Brandy
  • Cherry brandy
  • Dark rum of any variety
  • Medium sherry
  • Wine 
  • Whiskey
  • Orange-flavored liqueur
  • Apple juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cherry juice

And for fruit additions you can experiment with:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blueberries
  • Sour cherries
  • Raisins
  • Oranges

As you experiment you’ll find what really works for you.

Making Rum Cake

When it comes to rum cake, there are lots of options. When it really comes down to it, the best rum cake for you is all about personal preference. As it goes with all things with rum, if you enjoy it, it's a good rum mix.

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The Guide to Rum: Everything You Need To Get Started

This guide to rum is the place for everything you need to know. Whether you're operating a bar or restaurant, or if you just like mixing up rum drinks at home, this is the place for you. A guide to rum that works well for you will depend on what you like to drink, and who you're making drinks for. That said, this guide covers a lot of ground. Whether you're a bartender or someone who's just looking to learn more about rum, there's something for you here.

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