Very few things taste like Summer than the refreshing sip of a strawberry daiquiri. Made with very simple ingredients–just rum, lime, strawberries (or the fruit of your choice), and a sweetener–a daiquiri is the perfect expression of days spent bathing in the sun as Summer rolls casually by.
The daiquiri, though highly beloved (famously promoted by none other than Ernest Hemingway), is still a relatively under-explored cocktail. This may be because of the cheapness and availability of daiquiri mixes, whose artificial flavors have but a bad taste in the mouths of daiquiri drinkers everywhere.
If you want to make a high-quality daiquiri, you’ve got to use fresh ingredients and good rum. So what is the best rum for daiquiris?
Between light and dark rums, aged and relatively unaged rums, there are many different rum options for daiquiris to choose from. In this guide, we take a representative sample of all the rums out there to help you decide the perfect rum for your perfect Summer daiquiri.
The simplicity of the daiquiri flavor is complemented by the directness and concordant simplicity of white rum. White rum is the standard against which all other daiquiri rums are compared. You can’t go wrong with the classic taste of a white rum daiquiri, and here are our favorites.
Bacardi Superior White Rum
Though Bacardi may today be considered no more than the culprit of one-too-many college hangovers, Bacardi deserves some serious consideration when considering making a daiquiri.
In addition to a price that beats most of the other bottles on this list, Bacardi is originally a Cuban company. Having a Bacardi daiquiri, then, is an excellent budget way to taste an authentic Cuban cocktail.
Don Q Cristal
Although similar in color to other white rums, there’s a lot that sets Don Q Cristal apart. Unlike other white rums, Don Q uses an extensive distillation process to make their rum as smooth as possible.
After this intricate distillation process, the rum is aged in American oak barrels for anywhere from 1.5 to 5 years! This aging process increases the smoothness and adds a distinct flavor that makes this rum a common favorite for the classic daiquiri.
In the Don Q Cristal, you can expect flavors of vanilla and brown sugar, as well as a subtle pineapple that comes through nicely.
El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum
Though El Dorado is aged for three years in a barrel, it is filtered afterward to remove any color that it acquired. This aging and filtering process gives El Dorado a complex taste that will surprise you based on the color of the liquid.
When tasting El Dorado, the first flavor that comes to the palate is that of spice, and a lot of it. The baking spice comes in strong on the tongue, followed by an orange flavor and some other fruits. In the finish, the baking spice taste leaves you with just the caramel flavor this rum inherited from the barrel.
Despite this complexity of flavors, the El Dorado 3 Year remains an incredibly light rum and as such, it is a perfect white rum to submerge in a daiquiri. While the extant flavors of the rum will still be present in a daiquiri, the citrus and sweetness of the daiquiri will bring out and underscore some of the fruitier flavors of the El Dorado.
Flor de Caña 4 Year Rum Extra Seco
One of the most beautiful things about the daiquiri is its ability to exalt simplicity. We find in a perfectly crafted daiquiri that all the feats of human ingenuity and cleverness mean very little besides the simple brilliance of mother nature. In the Flor de Caña 4 Year Rum Extra Seco, the simple brilliance of the environment is brought into sharp focus.
Aged naturally, with resultant natural vanilla and citrus notes, this rum works very well in the daiquiri, which works best when the simple flavors of the cocktail itself can highlight the sweet and sour flavors of the rum within.
Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica provide the three rums that are mixed to make this excellent tropical white rum. The strength of the Jamaican rum has a nice interplay with the lime of the daiquiri, but what would otherwise be overpowered is tempered by the mediating presence of the Trinidad and Barbados rums.
All told, notes of grass, chocolate, and biscuits come through in this rum in a way that will certainly make your daiquiri stand out.
Ten To One Caribbean White Rum
Though Ten To One is a rum that provides the smooth texture we expect of white rums, it also has a deeply complex flavor that works exceptionally well in the daiquiri.
When placed in the daiquiri, its flavors don’t disappear into the mix — they stand out, while at the same time complementing the citrus innate in the daiquiri’s character.
Owney’s Rum, straight from the distillery in Brooklyn, NY, tastes much more like Cuba than the East Coast US. With the taste of banana cutting through undertones of smoke and sugarcane, Owney’s original rum is an excellent rum to put in a Hemingway daiquiri.
This version of the daiquiri, which substitutes strawberries in the classic for maraschino liqueur and grapefruit juice, is supposedly the version of the daiquiri Hemingway himself invented when he was living in Cuba.
Dark rum is highly beloved in daiquiris, as the complexity and richness of the dark rum flavors play nicely against the otherwise sharp, bright flavors of the daiquiri. Here are some of our favorites.
Equiano is not a rum to be overlooked. Many bartenders will swear that Equiano is the best-tasting rum they’ve ever tried. It’s not difficult to believe them: this rum not only looks elegant in its distinctive bottle, the caramel color of the rum seems to perfectly prelude the warm flavors of this drink in the glass.
Equiano is aged in bourbon and cognac casks. As such, you can expect orange, brown sugar, butterscotch, and raisin flavors to commingle in the glass and play a complex dance on your tongue.
In a daiquiri, the Equiano can add a brilliantly complex flavor that works well with the lime of the daiquiri, but that stands out in a really lovely way.
Plantation Original Dark Rum
Plantation Original Dark Rum is a rum with a storied history. From the start of the distillation process, this particular rum can spend as many as 18.5 years making its way to the bar in which you sip it.
Why? Plantation utilizes an entirely unique split distillation, mixing, and aging process, in which the liquor is distilled and aged in three separate countries. The distillation begins in Jamaica, where the liquor will age for as many as 15 years. It is then moved to Barbados, where it ages for another one to three years. After this, it is mixed in the south of France and aged for another 6 months or so.
This complicated process gives Plantation a distinctly complex flavor that works well in the daiquiri. Expect flavors of cinnamon, spice, and molasses.
Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum
Though incredibly bold, the Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum is also quite balanced. It’s a very smooth rum that works very well in the classic daiquiri.
Santa Teresa 1796 Solera Rum is a Venezualan rum that is aged in oak barrels previously used for bourbon. What this means for you is that this rum has a dry and smooth character which balances nicely with the sweetness and sharpness of the daiquiri’s other flavors.
Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario
Straight from Guatemala to your glass, the Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario is a highly complex rum with a rich aging history that can add a lot to the stark simplicity of the daiquiri.
The long aging process of Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario gives this rum a particularly sweet and even honey taste, but has a long finish that you will love with your cocktail.
If you’re bored of all the standard flavors, try a blended rum with your daiquiri.
Blended Rum: Probitas Rum
A blended rum, utilizing those rums distilled in Foursquare in Barbados and Hampton Estate in Jamaica, the Probitas Rum has a wonderfully tropical feel to it, in which citrus notes intermingle nicely with vanilla overtones.
Another thing to like about this rum: Probitas Rum has a higher ABV (47%), meaning that the fire of the higher alcohol content comes through nicely in the relatively simple cocktail.
There are plenty of rums to choose from on the market when deciding which rum to use for your next daiquiri. We’ve gone over a lot in this article, but here are our best picks:
- Best White Rum: Owney’s Original. Though coming straight from NY, not the tropics, Owney’s Original has an excellent taste of banana, smoke, and sugarcane that pairs nicely with any daiquiri.
- Best Dark Rum: Equiano. The butterscotch, orange, and caramel finish make this rum a standout rather than a ensemble member in this most classic of rum cocktails.
If you’re ready to feel like Summer, there’s no cheaper ticket to paradise than a well-crafted Daiquiri. Whether you take your daiquiri with white, dark, or blended rum, it doesn’t matter: what matters is that you live life like every day’s the first day of Summer.