Bartending experts share their top rum choices for enhancing the classic Daiquiri, spanning various price ranges.
“In crafting the Daiquiri, given its mere three ingredients, the foundational spirit should possess wonderfully exquisite aromas and a pleasing texture,” remarks Chantal Tseng, a bartender based in Washington, D.C. She seeks a rum that offers a harmonious interplay of richness, sweetness, and acidity, showcasing complexity and character while avoiding excessive harshness or neutrality. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it?
According to Ryan Lotz, the beverage director of Boston’s Traveler Street Hospitality group, many of today’s white rums tend to be less flavorful. However, there are exceptional options that introduce notes of citrus, tropical vibes, and intriguing funkiness, elevating the Daiquiri to new heights. The good news is that many of these standout rums are quite affordable.
To identify the absolute best candidates for the job, we enlisted the insights of bartenders who hold a special fondness for the Daiquiri.
El Dorado 3-Year Rum
El Dorado 3-year, a wallet-friendly choice, forms the base of the favored Daiquiri recipe of Jelani Johnson, head bartender at New York’s Le Coucou. Johnson typically augments this with a small quantity of rhum agricole, but he asserts that this bottling is the ultimate standalone option if you’re selecting just one. Lotz characterizes it as a dependable workhorse, and it’s also a preferred selection of Ned King, owner of Gigantic, a bar in Easthampton, Massachusetts. King commends its structural integrity, deeming it perfect for cocktails. Its dry finish, a crucial aspect for Daiquiris, is an added bonus.
The Real McCoy 3-Year Rum
Lee Zaremba, owner of a bar in Los Angeles, prioritizes texture and mouthfeel in the rum component of the drink. With a robust foundation, the lime and sugar components “harmonize beautifully,” he suggests. The Real McCoy 3-year, a full-bodied Barbadian rum, according to Zaremba, imparts a pleasing texture and equilibrium to a well-shaken, light Daiquiri. This bottling, noted for its affordability and high quality, undergoes aging in bourbon barrels, a process that imparts woody and spicy notes to the spirit.
Ten to One White Rum
While blending rums has gained popularity for Daiquiris, a similar effect can be achieved using Ten to One’s white rum—a blend of column-still rum from the Dominican Republic and pot-still rum from Jamaica. Described as a “remarkable standalone blend” by Johnson, this bottling combines herbal notes with a distinct peppery, floral, and vibrant flavor.
Foursquare Probitas Rum
Lotz characterizes Probitas as the “opposite of bland white spirits.” Like Ten to One white rum, Foursquare Probitas is a blend, featuring rums from Foursquare in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica. Each contributes unique elements of vanilla and tropical fruit. Matthew Belanger, bar manager at Death & Co. Los Angeles, praises the blend for its balanced flavor and texture. With a higher proof—47 percent ABV—it excels in cocktails.
Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc
For Tseng, rhum agricole holds the key to an exceptional Daiquiri. This spirit category offers a delightful balance of savory-sweet and fresh brightness that outshines all other white rums, she contends. According to both Tseng and Zaremba, Neisson Rhum Agricole Blanc is a prime choice for the classic rum. Zaremba hails it as a quintessential representation of the style, noting that its grassy, earthy undertones transport the drinker: “Tasting a bit of its origin is truly evocative for me,” he remarks.