Rum 101: Six Summer Cocktails

Rum 101Rum 101 is a continuing series of posts on rum and rum cocktails

Beating the summer heat is one of the top priorities for any person living outside of the Arctic Circle when the sun begins its months-long crusade to bake every person on the face of the planet.  While we’re half-way through summer here in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemispherists are still waiting for their summer, it seemed like a good idea to talk about six summer rum drinks to keep you cool and refreshed while in your bathing suit.

daiquiri_boxed Daiquiri

2 oz White Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup or Sugar

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass

An all-time classic and often improperly-made drink (I’ve been nearly thrown out of several bars for arguing that a daiquiri does not require the use of a blender), the Daiquiri uses the most common of all rum combinations: rum, sugar, and lime juice.  The British Navy used it in Grog to keep its Navy going.  The French use it for their ‘ti punches.  The Cubans use it for their Daiquiris.  Light and refreshing, this drink will never do you any wrong when the mercury starts rising.

caipirinha_boxed Caipirinha

2 oz Cachaca
1 oz Simple Syrup
Half of a lime, quartered or sliced

Mix cachaca, sugar, and limes in a glass and muddle well.  Fill the glass with ice and give it a good stir until the glass is chilled.

Did I mention that rum, lime, and sugar work well together?  While there are a good number of people arguing that cachaca is not rum, it is not in dispute that cachaca – like rum – is a sugarcane-based spirit that mixes wonderfully in the gold-standard of rum mixers.  This national drink of Brazil will keep you cool all day and let you samba your way through the night.

maitai_boxed Mai Tai

1 oz Jamaican Rum
1 oz Rhum Agricole Vieux
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Orange Curacao
.5 oz Orgeat
.25 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a double old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.  Garnish with a lime shell and a sprig of mint

I have something of an obsession with Mai Tais.  The classic Trader Vic concoction simply cannot be beaten when it comes to fun and refreshing.  No pineapples, no grenadine, no coconut rum – the classic Mai Tai is still refreshing and fun with endless ways to tinker.  If you prefer lighter rums, you can make that work.  If you prefer a little more depth, swap out one of the rums for a Demerara rum such as El Dorado 15.  You like a little more “funk” to your Mai Tai?  Try using Scarlet Ibis or Pusser’s Navy Rum in place of the Jamaican for something with a strong navy flavor.

darknsueme_boxed Jamaican Mule

2 oz Rum
3 oz Ginger Beer

Pour ginger beer into a glass with ice, float rum on top.  Add a twist of lime and garnish with a lime wedge.

This drink is often known by another name, but that name is trademarked by a rum company based out of Bermuda (see Cocktailians’ “Chilling Effects” or Jacob Grier’s excellent “Dark ‘n’ Sue Me”).  Rum and ginger beer is one of my absolute favorite highballs.  Ginger and rum play together almost as perfectly as rum and lime, and with such a wide variety of both rums and ginger beers out there, the possible tasty combinations are endless.

mojito_boxed Mojito

2 oz White Rum
.75 oz Simple Syrup
.75 oz Lime Juice
Fresh Mint

Take the leaves off of one of the sprigs of mint and put them in your mixing tin along with the simple syrup and the lime juice.  Muddle the mint gently.  Add the rum and some ice and shake well.  Strain (you should double-strain) into a glass filled with cracked ice.  Top with soda, garnish with the remaining mint.

It had been a whole drink since we talked about rum, lime, and sugar, so we now return to our well-proven mixture, but with the added twist of mint.  The Mojito is one of the most iconic rum drinks.  Coming to us from Cuba, this libation is custom-tailored to help you beat the heat.

queensparkswizzle_boxed Queen’s Park Swizzle

3 oz Demerara Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup
3 Heavy Dashes
Angostura Bitters
Fresh Mint

Add ingredients and shell of the lime you just juiced into a tall glass.  Fill the glass with crushed ice and swizzle until the glass frosts over.  Garnish with a large sprig of mint.  Serve with a straw.

Rum?  Check.  Lime?  Check.  Sugar?  Check.  Our basics in place, we’ve added bitters and mint and instead of shaking, we’re swizzling.  If you don’t have a swizzle stick (or have no idea what I’m talking about when I say “swizzle”), there is still hope.  Take a long barspoon and place it in the glass and then spin the spoon between your two hands by rubbing them back and forth with the spoon handle between them.  This should get the drink well-mixed and ice cold so that you can enjoy the sunshine without bursting into flames.

Of course, rum was born in the tropics, so there are quite a few more rum drinks that are wonderful for a hot summer day.  What are some of your favorite rum cocktails for sitting by the pool?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mike S.

    August 8, 2009, 02:11

    An absolutely classic list. Thanks for the run-down.

  • Jeff Johnson

    August 10, 2009, 18:39

    Thanks dood, for the list. I have to say, I’ve taken advantage of quite a few of these already this summer. Looking forward to the Queen’s Park Swizzle. Gives me something more to do than just Gimlets. Thanks!

  • Matt Robold

    August 10, 2009, 21:15

    You are too kind, Jeff. These are just starting points. There are so many great summer rum drinks. Ti Punch, Cuba Libre, Corn’n’Oil, Pina Colada, numerous swizzles and tiki drinks – the list never ends!

  • Dave

    August 11, 2009, 18:33

    Great list Rum Dood, and a great site to boot! I am working on becoming more knowledgeable on all things rum, and you are a great resource. Now a couple of questions, if you don’t mind…
    1. How do you pronounce Caipirinha, anyway?
    2. Do you have any recommended recipes that use rum cream as an ingredient? I have a bottle I am just dying to crack open…
    3. Do you have a preferred Bermuda Rum Swizzle recipe? I have been trying to duplicate the drinks we had on our honeymoon, but with limited success. I guess the lack of tropics probably comes into play too, huh?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!


  • Matt Robold

    August 11, 2009, 23:36

    Hi Dave,

    Glad you liked it!

    1. Caipirinha is pronounced almost phonetically!  Think of it as KI-per-eenha where the “ki” is pronounced the same as in “kite”
    2. Rum cream is a wonderful thing.  I like using a little bit of it in Painkillers (in place of the coconut cream), with coffee, or in drinks like the Chocolate Raindance
    3. A Bermuda Swizzle recipe.  I know this isn’t the “According to Hoyle” recipe, but this is what I use.

    2 oz. dark rum
    .75 oz lime juice
    .5 oz. pineapple juice
    .5 oz. orange juice
    .5 oz. falernum
    2 dashes Angostura Bitters  

    Fill a glass with crushed ice and then mix your ingredients in the glass.  Swizzle with a swizzle stick or a barspoon until the glass frosts over and the drink becomes frothy.  Garnish with pineapple.

  • Dave

    August 12, 2009, 20:28

    Man, thanks very much for the helpful reply! I am still somewhat new to the rum game, so making a Bermuda Swizzle will give me a *great* excuse to grab my first bottle of dark rum. Let’s hope I don’t drop the ball on that one. 🙂 I have been wanting to check out a Painkiller as well, so that will be a great initiation for the rum cream, too. Thanks again for the help; I appreciate it!


  • Adam

    August 19, 2009, 22:46

    Hey Matt and Dave,

    I got schooled in the art of the Bermuda Rum Swizzle a few weeks back by Malcolm Gosling of Gosling’s Rum. His recipe blew mine away (which is why we’ve changed it since)

    2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal
    1 oz Orange Juice
    1 oz Pineapple Juice
    .5 oz Lime Juice
    .25 oz Falernum
    .25 oz Grenadine Syrup
    dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

    My recipe was similar to Matt’s, until Malcolm invoked grenadine, an unlikely fix-all.

  • Matt Robold

    August 24, 2009, 21:58


    I’ve seen this recipe before, but I haven’t yet made it. I know, I’m a terrible person that doesn’t do thorough enough research when drinking, apparently.

    I’ll have to give this a try to see if it become the new house recipe. 😉


  • Mike

    September 9, 2009, 16:35

    Mojitos are definitely my drink of choice. No mention of the different flavor varieties. Raspberry, Strawberry…purista makes a kickass Blackberry one.

  • Matt Robold

    September 15, 2009, 11:29


    One of the great things about some of the simpler drinks like a Mojito or Daiquiri is that they do lend themselves to flavor experimentation. It can be really wonderful to add muddled berries to a mojito or substitute a flavored syrup into your daiquiri for the sugar, and I heartily recommend that sort of fun. I really wanted to focus on the basics though. After all, this is Rum 101. 😉

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