Just a few weeks ago, we were celebrating National Tequila Day. But that isn't stopping bars from charging head-on into yet another booze-filled national holiday: National Rum Day falls on August 16 (a Friday, in case you were wondering), in honor of…well, no one's exactly sure. But who cares? It's an entire day of sanctioned drinking – and we're OK with that. So don your pirate hat and grab a sprig of fresh mint. Here are our picks for the best rum cocktails around.
Mount Gay Black Barrel is a small batch, hand-crafted rum by one of the oldest rum brands in the world. Finished in charred bourbon oak barrels, the rich spirit manages to straddle the line between whiskey and rum. It functions as the main ingredient in the Black Ginger, a popular cocktail made with Q Ginger Ale, fresh lime and Angostura bitter, served at The Cliff. (For those who can't make it all the way to Barbados, The Pierre in New York serves the same cocktail at its lobby bar, Two E.)
Heading to Chicago later this month? Be sure to pull up a stool at Bernard's Bar, a cozy 34-seat boîte inside the Waldorf-Astoria Chicago. Artisanal wines, craft beers, and homemade potato chips round out the bar's ample menu offerings, though its cocktails are the real stars of the place. Like? The Pan Am ($14), whipped up this summer by mixologist Tom Hogan, is a blend of Cynar, lime, Falernum, and rum, all shaken and poured over a mound of crushed ice.
Inside Miami's brand new, 87-room Gale South Beach & Regent Hotel, which sits a block away from the ocean on 17th Street and Collins Ave, the trendy Regent Cocktail Club offers live music, light bites, and a street-facing patio. Among the bar's ample rum-based cocktails, our favorite is the Pina Colada ($14, pictured top): a frozen blend of unsweetened coconut milk, coconut cream, spiced rum, aged rum, and fresh pineapple. Need something a little less creamy? Try the James Royal Palm's Neptune ($13, pictured above), a tropical-inspired cocktail of Bacardi 8-year rum, passionfruit puree, lime juice, honey, and mint, served at the hotel's seafood restaurant, Catch.
Nantucket-bound travelers get a treat this summer at The Wauwinet, a luxury inn on the island's northeast coast. In addition to the hotel's rustic decor, private beach, and signature 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster house car, Topper's is an award-winning restaurant serving fresh local seafood, and, yes, cocktails. The winner here is the Pain Killer ($11.50), a zesty mix of Pusser's British Navy Rum, orange juice, Coco Lopez, pineapple juice, and nutmeg (you can even order it with room service).
Over in Boston, the Revere Hotel is cooking up a few rum-based specialties on their newly-opened, and rather large, rooftop bar. Looking out over the entire city from the seventh floor, guests can go for a dip in the pool, followed by a Hibiscus Punch (pictured), which comes served in a single glass ($11) or pitcher ($44), and is made with Bacardi um, Domaine de Canton, hibiscus tea syrup, and fresh lime juice – though the hibiscus flower garnish is what really puts us in the vacation spirit.
As we all know, rum (and pirates) have a long, complicated history in the Bahamas – there's even an island called Rum Cay. One of the best spots to get a taste of that history is at the 224-year-old Buena Vista Estate in downtown Nassau, where locals produce the John Watling's small-batch Pale, Amber and Buena Vista rums (pictured) by hand throughout the year (complimentary tours of the home are available). Be sure to pop into the adjoining Red Turtle Tavern to sample the goods!
Looking for something out of the ordinary? JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa serves a Pineapple Mojito ($12) at Sprouts, which happens to be Scottsdale's only spa-restaurant. The drink, made with Papagayo Silver Rum, Navan Natural Vanilla cognac, agave, lime, mint, pineapple, and lemon-lime soda, is the ideal compliment to an evening spent wandering the 125-acre resort's lush desert gardens, or hanging out by the pool, gazing up at Rummy – er, sorry – Mummy Mountain.
Biras Creek Resort, a 31-suite luxury boutique property in the British Virgin Islands, has concocted a Ginger Beer-infused libation known as the Running Iguana ($9, pictured). Infused with vodka, Triple Sec, Myers Dark Rum and lemon, the cocktail honors the stony-faced reptiles who can be seen waddling around the 140-acre resort, which is so remote, it can only be reached by boat or helicopter.
Passing through the Twin Cities this month? Hyatt Regency Minneapolis might your best bet: the 645-room hotel recently debuted a 40-seat outdoor patio at their Scandinavia-inspired restaurant, Prairie Kitchen & Bar. Facing out towards Nicollet Mall, the terrace's fire pits and Adirondack chairs are the perfect setting to enjoy one of the bar's signature cocktails – the Watermelon Daiquiri ($12), for example, blends Prichard's Crystal Rum, fresh watermelon, lime juice, and honey (sourced from three on-site beehives).
Over in New York, not one but three cocktails have us pricking up our ears: at the trendy Mondrian SoHo, tea-lovers can sip on a Matcha Mojito ($16, pictured), a bright green mixture of J.M. Rhum Agricole, coconut water, lime juice, fresh mint, and a teaspoon of matcha tea powder, up on the hotel's rooftop joint, Soaked. Meanwhile, the party never stops at Dream Downtown, whose 'Beach' (we use the term loosely) has prepared a series of Ice Cream cocktails to be enjoyed by the pool – Rum & Raisins ($14) consists of Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, ginger snap liqueur, soy milk, rum raisin ice cream and rum-soaked raisins. And finally, decadent drunkards will go nuts for the James Hotel's Elvis Egg Cream ($17), a heavy-hitting blend of peanut rum, banana, Everclear, seltzer, and chocolate bitters.
At the award-winning Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, Chef Ingo Moller has been experimenting with new offerings like in-room 'chefing' and 'moonbathing.' Although if it's just booze you're after, the Palms D'Or ($15) ought to do the job pretty well: the fizzy cocktail, served in a martini glass, is made with gold rum, coconut rum, passionfruit puree, pineapple juice, middled mint leaves and an ounce of champagne. Cheers, matey!