Suggestions for tiki cocktails

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Septenpunctatum 🇭🇺 | 0 ratings Author Posted 18 Dec '23

I am planning to make tiki-style and other basic cocktails at home, and just wanted to ask the more experienced what could be good options if I want an aged/dark rum which is more premium but not overly so. I do not want to put the highest quality sipping rums into my cocktails haha. For example, I was looking at Don Papa rum, Don Papa Baroko, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, and also Plantation XO 20th annviersary. I am also curious about what you think of these as cocktail ingredients. This is the price range I am considering. I want an aged rum which is best for the widest range of cocktails. I heard Don Papa rum has a fruity, pronounced vanilla flavour which may be more suitable for most tiki cocktails, but it did not receive very good score/reviews. Don Papa Baroko is rated a tiny bit higher, and Diplomatico much higher but I was afraid their chocolate/dessert-like profile might not be the best for most cocktails.

DB avatar image
DB 🇺🇸 | 80 ratings Replied 8 Jan '24

I wouldn't personally use Plantation XO for anything. It might have its place, but contrary to the majority of the planet, I find it lacking in nearly every way. Love Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, not sure about using in Tiki though. Maybe?

A few more you might consider, El Dorado 8, Appleton 8, Doorly's 8, Bacardi Reserva 8, I think it really depends on the call for the particular drink. Experimentation is always a good thing, though it might cost a bit of money to do so!


TommAng avatar image
TommAng 🇺🇸 | 25 ratings Replied 8 Jan '24

I feel like for mixing, El Dorado is going to fit the bill a lot better than Diplomatico. If you can get your hands on Hamilton Demerara 86, that would be even better. 

SlandT 🇺🇸 | 27 ratings Replied 20 Jan '24

Coruba Dark, Myers’s Original Dark, Worthy Park 109 (but adjust for strength), Hamilton Jamaican Black (unaged).

The Nine Essential Tiki Rum Styles – A Beginner’s Guide

Edit: If you're looking to make a Mai Tai (specifically), this is good info for what blend to use: https://ultimatemaitai.com/about/rum/

Alas avatar image
Alas 🇵🇷 | 548 ratings Replied 23 Jan '24

I'd go with a solid white/light rum. Selva rey white (which is really a don pancho rum) or if you want a bit of funk a young hampden.  Most unique cocktail I had recently was Hamilton demerara + Kiyomi white + some fruit punchy type mixer = awesomeness.

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Josifiend 🇦🇺 | 54 ratings Replied 28 Jan '24

You could also get the Beachbum Berry App and then see what you can make with each new rum you do buy. It's helpful with rum categories and suggestions for substitutions within these categories. For example, there is only one cocktail that specifies Coruba, but it can be substituted in 90+ recipes. Also a few tiki drinks are about the modifier so if you only buy one rum and make as many recipes as you can with one rum you'll still have change for some Orgeat and some Falernum and what have you... I have a lot of books at home but I'll always return to the BBum App for Tiki drinks and Diffords guide for the classics and modern classics. 

SlandT 🇺🇸 | 27 ratings Replied 5 Feb '24

@Josifiend - Good advice.  I've been trying to get my tiki rums straightened out.

I had been buying Bacardi Gold and Superior not knowing there was significantly better things out there.  (I don't want to talk about their U.S. Havana Clubs) Now trying to have a good selection is rough.  From the link I posted above to start the 'nine essential', I'm now spending too much time researching.

Aged Jamaican: Deathly afraid.  HATE Wray and Nephew (I know it's unaged) and was completely unimpressed with Appleton 8 which I found mostly boring.  I can't find a good option.  Smith and Cross sounds better, but is impossible to find where I am for some reason and Plantation Xaymaca doesn't seem to exist like many others on the list.

Moderately Aged Demerara: I thought Pyrat fit this category since it's largely 'Demerara Style from Guyana'.  That was until I bought Blue Label Pusser's and found them to be drastically different.  I feel like Pyrat is just a moderately aged rum, not Demerara.

Mind you, I don't care for Pusser's and was hoping to try/buy the gunpowder proof since it's rated better, but I can't find that either.  Although, I have found Cruzan Eclipse Navy Proof and feel like giving that a try, but obviously that's not Demerara (I guess a different Navy) and mostly just moderately aged/gold.

In fact, I was looking at Cruzan Eclipse to replace Pyrat and its sweetness in drinks.  I nearly bought the Navy, and if that wasn't there I would have accidentally gotten the 'Crisp and Aromatic' not realizing that was different from their better rated regular.

Jamaican Caramel Forward Dark: "Coruba Dark, Myers’s Original Dark, Worthy Park, Hamilton Jamaican Black (unaged)"  I've only been able to locate Myer's, which I'm afraid to get because I last bought it MANY years ago and disliked it at the time.

Researching Disney Trader Sam's drinks I saw that for a couple of their cocktails they've replaced the Myers and Coruba Darks with Plantation Original Dark.  I was ready to go with that, until I read on CocktailWonk that he considers it moderately aged, not dark (or Jamaican(?)).  So what is it!?

I had a bottle (and really liked) Whaler's which I had bought for a traditional Royal Hawaiian Mai-Tai.  I know it's not Jamaican, and I'm betting tastes very little like the other rum's in the category, but caramel forward would not be wrong.

I also picked up a bottle of Gosling's just to try a true Dark & Stormy.  I have no idea how similar it would be to the other rums in the category (again, not Jamaican), but it's definitely nothing at all like Whaler’s.  I wouldn’t buy it again, because I didn’t like the Dark and Stormy (mostly because of gingerbeer).

Demerara Overproof? Haven't found any of them anywhere yet.  Closest find has been Don Q 151, but not Demerara.

Mostly, I’m now just looking to have a good light, golden/aged and dark since I find once mixed in a cocktail a lot of the distinctions in the categories gets lost to the juices and syrups.  That and my favorite drinks so far are the coquito, Painkiller/Monorail Yellow, Hawaiian Mai-tai and occasionally the classic Mai-Tai.

Edit: Apparently Plantation Original Dark is a dark rum without as much coloring added.  Sounds like a good choice for me.  Not completely dry (or bitter like Goslings), not fully Jamaican funky, available nearby and not expensive (locally it's under $20 for a 750ml and $2 more for a liter!).

At least that's one question answered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zV4NBsPfR4