Have you ever had shots made with rum? It’s quite unlike any drink or any shot you’ve ever tasted, believe me.

The thing about shots is that you’re expected to chug it down, quickly, without actually tasting what you’re drinking. This style of drinking agrees with rum, because as some people will point out, unmixed rum has something of a caramel, vanilla, sweet yet woody and earthy taste and although smooth, it burns while going down.

Taking rum in shots will prevent that very discomfort. Rum is also very strong so most people will advise against taking it straight and instead combine it with softer flavors in a mixed drink or cocktail. Shots can be taken straight on the rocks or in a cocktail mix. The most important thing is that it’s taken in a shot glass and drank all at once.

There are different rum shots for different folks; everybody likes theirs some peculiar way, and because its rum, it can be made into a thousand different shots. If I were to list all the kinds of shots that could possibly be made with rum, a thousand books would not be enough to contain them. Virtually any shot that is made can be made with rum and this includes cocktail shots.

The list is endless so I’m going to name just a few of some of the most popular rum based shots including rum mixed shots and easy rum shots. Before we go into the shots, we’ll talk a bit about rum and rum origins, the different types or grades of rum, the best rum brands, the different rum shots, some tips on drinking rum and as an extra bonus, how to taste quality rum. Shall we begin?

Ho-ho-ho and a bottle of Rum!

Most times when I hear or see the word ‘rum’, I inadvertently think of pirates, and what better pirate movie is there than pirates of the Caribbean? What is it about rum that has pirates so hooked though? Follow me closely, maybe we’ll find out.

In its simplest form, rum is liquor that is distilled from sugar. It’s an alcoholic beverage made from the byproducts of sugarcane, e.g. molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice. Rum made from sugarcane juice is distilled and fermented, and the clear liquid that is formed is then caged in oak barrels for furthering brewing through a process known as aging.

It is a long and arduous process, often taking years to complete, but the end product is worth it. Rum is generally sweet in its not-so-processed format but when further brewed however, the taste changes and becomes more distinct.

Rum is produced all over the world, but the bulk of it is made in the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s also produced in Australia, Portugal, Austria, Canada, Fiji, India, Japan, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

From the production rate, we can guess that rum has a Latin American ancestry. Columbus introduced sugarcane to the West Indies in 1493 and the first rum was produced in Barbados, Brazil and Jamaica.

Rum has no set guidelines for production as each location has different traditional styles with which they distill and ferment this popular sugar product. The quality of rum is dependent on the quality of the sugarcane from whence it came. And the quality of the sugarcane depends on the soil fertility and climate in which it was grown.

So technically, how good rum tastes depends on the soil and climate. Another factor that determines the quality of rum is how long it is left to age. Most countries require that rum be left for a year to age using bourbon or oak barrels and casks.

Majority of rum is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume.

Rums are typically produced in various grades depending on the location where the rum was produced, the distilling time and process and the aging process but they are basically addressed as follows.

Light rums: light-bodied rum is sometimes called white rum or silver rum. It’s the most common type and it has a general sweetness to it. It is aged for a lesser time than all the other rum varieties and can be filtered after aging to remove any color before bottling. Because of their mild flavor, they are used in an array of popular cocktails and mixed drinks. Most light rums come from Puerto Rico and are aged in stainless steel tanks.

Gold rums: are medium-bodied rums also called amber rum. They are quite rich and smooth, probably due to the addition of caramels in the production process. They have a more potent flavor than light rum and are stronger tasting.

Gold rums are aged in oak casks which contribute to their dark smoothness and they can be used in place of light rums in certain dark cocktails.

The longer the time spent aging, the darker the rum will be.

Dark rums: most dark rums come from Jamaica or Haiti and are easily recognized by their brown, black or red color. They are heavy-bodied rum made from caramelized molasses and sugars. They are aged longer in heavily charred barrels and this gives them a darker color and stronger flavor than either light or gold rums.

When tasted, a trace of spices can be noticed along with a caramel overtone. They provide the color and substance in rum drinks and are commonly used in cooking. Because of their distinctive flavor, dark rums are the preferred sippers of the rum family and are taken straight on the rocks or sometimes with mixers.

Flavored and spiced rum: rum is flavored by adding spices and flavorings outside of the sugar used to create the alcohol during distillation. This makes the rum any color and a favorite for cocktails. Some of the more common fruit flavors used are coconut, banana, orange, pineapple, star fruit, mango and strawberry flavored rum.

These flavorings are usually artificial ingredients but on rare occasions, natural fruits and herbs are infused. The spices usually used are cinnamon, rosemary, cardamom and aniseed.

Overproof rums: have more alcohol content than the standard 40% ABV (151-proof) for rum, and they are only used as floats in cocktails. It is perfect for creating flamed drinks because the high alcohol content makes it easy to burn.

Special rum: cachaca is a Brazilian rum with a unique twist. It is made without molasses and instead uses pure sugar cane juice in the distillation process, and by law, it can only be made in Brazil. It is a very sweet rum and can substitute for standard rum in many cocktail recipes. Rhum Agricole is just like cachaca. It also uses sugarcane juice instead of molasses in the distillation process and like cachaca, it must be produced only in the French territories.

The Very Best Rum Shots

A good rum shot will definitely come from good rum. You can’t have bad rum and expect good shots, it doesn’t happen that way. The best rum shots will come from the best rum available.

How can you tell good rum?

As I said earlier, it’s all about the soil and climate. But since neither one of us was there during the cultivation of the sugar cane nor production of the rum, our best bet is to buy brands that are reputed to have quality rum.

Now, I’m not going to tell you which rum is good and which isn’t, argue that out with your bartender. All I’m going to do is talk about different shooters with rum, naming different popular brands and then leave you to make your choice. But remember that with rum, quality and price vary greatly from one brand to the other so be sure to read the brand labels carefully before making your purchase so you know what you’re buying especially as it is concerns additives.

White Rum Shots

The mojito is the first drink that comes to mind when you think of white rum. It requires only a few ingredients: white rum, mint, lime, sugar and soda.

Why do you have white rum if you’re not making pina colada? This tropical delight uses white rum, pineapple juice and coconut cream to create one of the best shooters you’ll ever drink.

Some of the brands that make the best white rum are: Bacardi, Appleton, Havana Club, Cruzan and Mount Gay. 

Dark Rum Shots

Hot buttered rum is the shot you need going down your throat during the cold winter months. With the blend of dark rum, vanilla extract, brown sugar, butter and a combination of winter spices, the warmth your body desperately needs during the winter months is right at your fingertips.

Café Con Ron literally translates to ‘coffee with rum’ which is essentially the best way to kick start your morning. Dark rum and cold brew are stirred with a little RumChata, which is sweet cinnamon-flavored liquor. It’s satisfying and breakfast friendly; it’s a must-have.

Popular Rum Shots

The Daiquiri is the first rum drink everyone should learn to make. Ideally it’s a cocktail, but where’s the law against turning cocktails into shots!? This cocktail uses three simple ingredients: rum, lime juice and simple syrup.

The dark and stormy is perfect for both stormy nights and clear nights. Ginger beer and Gosling’s Black Seal Rum are the only stars in this show.

Fruity Shots with Rum

First on our list is the hurricane. It’s a drink filled with so much flavor as it combines white rum, dark rum, passion fruit, orange and lime juices, simple syrup and grenadine into one little shot of ecstasy.

The big bamboo shooter is a potent shot and it uses strong and overproof rums. Apart from the overproof rum, it also uses orange and pineapple juices, dark rum, simple syrup and a dash of bitters. For a long time, the big bamboo was a signature Bacardi rum shot until the Bacardi 151 was discontinued.

Some shot recipes call for Bacardi rum shots in particular. One example is the dizzy fizzy slammers recipe. It uses Bacardi, Champagne and lemon juice. And it’s not at all complicated: simply fill a shot glass with half ounce Bacardi white rum, add a squeeze of lemon juice and top off with half ounce Champagne.

Malibu rum shots are in a category of their own. Because the Malibu rum is flavored with coconut, passion fruit, banana, pineapple and mango, shots made with Malibu come fruity and mixed.

Rum Tasting and Drinking Tips

Before we wrap this up, let me just drop some pointers on how to properly taste and drink good rum. You may think you know how to already, but trust me, you have no idea.

Don’t be afraid to try different rum recipes. Don’t just stick to the tropics, explore a little. Find you a bartender who knows his rum and let him guide you.

Drink your rum with ice, just like whiskey. Rum is bottled at a higher proof than most spirits so ice is always a good idea for dilution.

You can use your own senses to know when you have quality rum. Pour it into a glass and examine its clarity. White rum will be clear, dark rum will be amber. If it’s cloudy, it’s no good. Next, taste it. Put it in your mouth and just swish it around a bit. If alcohol is the first thing you taste then that rum is cheap as cheap can be. Quality rum will taste complex: sweet, smoky and smooth. It’s the trifecta!

And that concludes our little rum shots voyage. Next time you’re out at the bar, make sure you enjoy some of the wonders rum has to offer before you need to call your designated driver. And if you’ll be mixing these shots yourself at home, do not forget to always drink responsibly.


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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