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The 8 Best Rums for a Pina Colada
Originally from Puerto Rico, the pina colada is a mixology icon synonymous with beach relaxation and taking walks in the rain. While ostensibly a tropically heavy cream drink using white, golden, or spiced rum, you can use any rum expression to make a great colada cocktail (vodka also works).
Quality rum production is rising across the US and Caribbean, with old favorites and flavors contrasting with interesting independent producers to create a brilliant range of options for rum drinkers, cocktail samplers, and home bar operators.
Below you’ll find a killer collection of the best eight rums for pina colada cocktail enjoyment – ranging in price points and type – as well as a simple-to-follow, fresh recipe that will blow any pre-bought pina colada mix out of the water.
1. Banks 5 Island Blend Rum
Banks 5 Island Blend Rum is a big, characterful rum full of fermented molasses that boldly sits well in a classic pina colada mix. Filtered until it’s crystal clear, this barrel-aged rum offers more character than most light rum types and contains a blend of rums from five distilleries, each aged between three and 12 years. The rums are from Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana, but also include the sugar cane juice and molasses distillate Batavia Arrack from Java.
Banks 5 Island Rum is just the type of expression that’ll liven up any rum cocktail, or work just as well with lime juice, ice cubes, and some muddled-up pineapple chunks. Banks also has a golden rum blend of 23 rums from seven countries that we highly recommend if a sweeter beach rum is more your kind of thing.
2. Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
Mount Gay is the oldest rum distillery in the world with over 300 years of Caribbean Island expertise. The Black Barrel blend is crafted from intense and aromatic rums distilled in traditional copper pots and column stills. After distillation, the rum is matured between three to seven years in American Whiskey casks and then finished for another six months in deeply charred ex-bourbon casks.
This robust and bold golden rum offers rich notes of spices, gingerbread, and toffee, and is well suited to your pina colada or tropical drink, such as a meld of crushed pineapple, simple syrup, and ice cubes. Also, if you’re having an issue stretching your budget, Mount Gay Eclipse is another suitable golden rum you could use for your mixology.
3. Wray and Nephew Overproof White Rum
Iconic Jamaican rum brand Wray and Nephew topped our list of best white rums to try, and it’s also right near the top of our list to drink in a classic pina colada. This bottle is responsible for 90% of domestic Jamaican rum sales and is the pre-eminent “strong” overproof white rum sold worldwide.
Wray and Nephew is an overproof white rum that carries an extra wallop (at 63% ABV) and is designed with your party in mind. It has a natural, sugar-sweet aroma with overtones of fermented molasses. The palate is fruity, and the extra booze kick is tangible alongside notes of banana and a little oak.
The finish is long and filled with a flavor synonymous with Caribbean spiced rum. It’s a fruity, fiery white spirit for the rum lover who enjoys holding court in social situations, and its strength adds power and punch to the creaminess of your frozen cocktail.
4. Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum
This deliciously unique sweet pineapple rum was originally never meant for sale and has since morphed into a much-loved craft distilled rum that sets tongues (and taste buds) wagging. Plantation cellar master Alexandre Gabriel and author David Wondrich created this rum to share during the Tales of the Cocktail conference, in honor of Reverend Stiggins, whose favorite drink was the pineapple rum in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.
The Fancy Pineapple Rum was such a hit that Plantation made it an official release, and it’s an outlier of great quality in the flavored rum market that is just perfect for a well-crafted pina colada.
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5. Captain Morgan 100 Proof Spiced Rum
The most famous rum drinking Captain (with apologies to Jack Sparrow), Captain Morgan 100 Proof Spiced Rum is a blend of Caribbean rums and select spices ideal for making your pina colada fun. The higher ABV (50%) brings out the rum’s intensity in full flavor and fits seamlessly with pineapple flavor and the coconut creaminess of your colada mix.
Captain Morgan 100 Proof Spiced Rum is the exclamation point that your rum cocktail needs, perfect for cheaper rum drinks (there’s no issue using canned pineapple juice, the Captain doesn’t mind) designed to keep your party by the pool, deck, or beach moving.
6. Ten to One White Rum
Ten to One White Rum is blended for an incredibly delicate, balanced flavor profile aimed at premium cocktails such as the classic daiquiri, Mai Tai, or fresh pineapple juice pina colada. Ten to One blends column still rum from the Dominican Republic and high ester pot still Jamaican rum. The individuality from the Jamaican pot still is enhanced by just the right amount of sweetness from the Dominican column still.
It features notes of pepper, jasmine, citrus, coriander, and lemongrass on the nose, with a citrus palate rich with banana flavor and spices that linger through a warm, friendly finish. Ten to One is a surprisingly complex and flavorful rum popular with bartenders for use in their premium rum cocktails.
7. Koloa Spice Rum
An enjoyable rum from the Hawaiian Islands, Koloa Spice Rum is made from raw cane sugar distilled in a steam-powered copper pot still and cut with filtered water from Mount Waialeale. This spiced rum is dry and crisp on the palate but carries flavors of deeply cooked caramel and a light finish of sarsaparilla; it’s great for amplifying the heavy cream goodness of a colada or simply enjoyed over crushed ice.
Koloa also has a great coconut rum expression that is perfect for when you want to go heavy on the tropical island flavor in your drink.
8. Cruzan Estate Diamond Light Rum
If you are planning a big party and need to get as many of the cheapest possible bottles that you can, then Cruzan Estate is a perfect choice. Sure, it’s very cheap, but Cruzan Estate Light Rum stands up as a good option for your tropical drink mixology, either as the main attraction for your frozen pina colada or for complementing a drink with more layers.
It’s clean and smooth, with just enough warmth to tickle. Going cheap doesn’t mean it has to taste that way!
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Classic Homemade Pina Colada Recipe
A homemade pina colada recipe like the one below is a classic summer cocktail. You can use any type of rum (or go without booze for a classy virgin pina colada), but I’ve found spiced or white rum complements the creaminess more than dark rum.
Make your mix fresh and serve immediately, or stick it into the freezer for 30 minutes to one hour to craft a handy frozen pina colada (that tastes infinitely better than a store bought pina colada mix).
- 1.5 oz spiced or white rum
- 0.5 oz coconut cream (I like the heavy cream but you can use the lighter stuff)
- 0.5 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1.5 oz fresh pineapple juice
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- Ice Cubes or crushed ice
Garnish: Maraschino cherry and/or a large pineapple slice
Combine all ingredients except for the garnish in a blender or cocktail shaker. Shake or blend thoroughly until the mix is an even consistency (for me, a shaken pina colada just tastes better).
Strain into a highball or cocktail glass of your choice. Garnish with the maraschino cherry and pineapple slice, then serve immediately.
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