Best rum bars around the world – an insider’s guide
“Rum is a spirit created by the people, for the people and on my travels over the past few years I’ve enjoyed discovering where the people like to drink”Richard Woods
Richard Woods is head bar manager at Floridita, where he looks after the UK’s biggest single rum collection, shares his little black book of rum bars with The Artful Diner.
“Rum is a spirit created by the people, for the people and on my travels over the past few years I’ve enjoyed discovering where the people like to drink,” says Richard.
“Generally, if I’m in warmer, more tropical climates and I ask the people where they go for good rum, the answer has been quite literally everywhere. That’s because in the Caribbean you’ll find a rum shack – or some form of bar serving rum – as often as you find Starbucks over here.
“If, however, you’re not in tropical climes, wearing newly purchased swimwear and contemplating a move to warmer shores, the choice is limited. That’s not to say great rum bars don’t exist, they just require a little more research to find.
“Here are my recommendations for some of the world’s best rum bars. If in doubt, you can always ask a friendly bartender, because it turns out that rum isn’t just a spirit for the people, it’s also an industry favourite.”
The London crowd:
Floridita (100 Wardour Street)
With more than 400 bottles of rum behind the bar, Floridita is home to the UK’s biggest rum collection. These include rare rums dating back to the pre-1900s, some of which are opened for members of Floridita’s regular Rare Rum Club. The Cuban-inspired atmosphere changes from night to night, from live cabaret on Wednesdays through to party nights at the weekend.
Artesian (at The Langham, 1c Portland Place)
A refined cocktail bar with a nice collection of rums, including some of its own bottlings. Being a hotel bar, it’s always busy with a nice atmosphere even on a Sunday or Monday.
Trailer Happiness (177 Portobello Road)
It may not have been the first Tiki bar in London (that accolade goes to Trader Vic’s at the London Hilton), but Trailer Happiness kicked off the Tiki craze among a younger, more kitsch crowd. Expect cocktails in coconuts and an atmosphere its website terms “the e-z-boy feel of a low rent, mid-60s California valley bachelor pad”.
Mahiki (1 Dover Street)
Opening after Trailer Happiness, Mahiki is certainly the most famous Tiki bar in London. As well as being good for spotting young royals, it’s also a great party night out – expect the kind of fun that comes with a headache the next morning.
Cottons (55 Chalk Farm Road)
The Rhum Shack at Cottons Caribbean Restaurant is home to a range of 250 different rums. Owner Ian Burrell is the self-described UK rum ambassador and widely regarded as one of the world's leading experts on cane spirits. Expect great Caribbean food to boot.
Slightly further afield:
The St James Taven (16 Madeira Place, Brighton)
The St James is a quirky local pub with a really great collection of rum (between 80 to 100 bottles). All are reasonably priced and available to try at the bar. It also hosts various rum events including a free monthly rum night.
Tel: 0872 148 6120
Around the world:
The Rum Trader (Fasanenstrasse 40, Berlin)
This is a very small and popular, which may mean queuing up outside. But once you’re in expect beautiful rum cocktails crafted by the flamboyant rum expert, Mr Scholl.
Tel: +49 30 881 1428
Caña Rum Bar (714 West Olympic Boulevarde, Downtown Los Angeles)
Imagine a very chic Miami-esque bar full of cool people making an impression on each other. This isn’t the most dressed-down rum bar, but it’s certainly very chic. Caña isn’t afraid to experiment with ingredients and quirky recipes, so expect great rum cocktails.
Papa Zouk (Hilda Davis Drive, St John’s, Antigua)
You’re in the home of rum, but the range of rums at this particular fish restaurant and bar is unusual because it includes varieties from all over the Caribbean. Normally, bars here stick to the rums from their country. The fish is very fresh; it’s right on the beach and there are no walls because the weather’s so good. What more could you want?
Tel: +1 268 464 6044
Castro’s Bar (Castries, St Lucia)
This is a rum bar Richard Woods stumbled across one rain-swept night while at a street party in the Castries, St Lucia. He and a group of friends found this little bar that “doesn’t look like much” run by none other than Castro. It took him a little bit to warm up – this really is a local haven, but when Castro realised how much the group loved their rum he shared one of the rare expressions he collected as a youngster travelling around the Caribbean. Expect furniture a bit like your old school and an old phone in the corner, but quite possibly also the best atmosphere you’ll find anywhere in the Caribbean.
(Website? Afraid not - best thing for this one is to head down there and ask!)
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