SF’s 7 Best Summer Rum Cocktails

Blackbird's Age of Sail

Blackbird’s Age of Sail

Hi Lo's Bajan Rum Punch

Hi Lo’s Bajan Punch

While any quality spirit should be enjoyed all year round, rum carries the island breezes of summer in its cane sugar and/or molasses nectar.

In honor of rum and summer, here are seven rum cocktails currently on menus around town… each one capturing the celebratory simplicity of the long days of summer.



Alembic’s 30-Day Notice

ALEMBIC’s 30-Day Notice ($11)

Alembic’s 30-Day Notice, a creation from the ever-gracious Danny Louie, ushers in summer in its vividly tart blend of Flor de Cana rum, lime juice and a house banana cordial, while Yellow Chartreuse and chili tincture add complexity and power.

BLACKBIRD’s Age of Sail ($10)

Proprietor Shawn Vergara experiments with different aged cocktails at Blackbird, the current offering being my favorite on the summer menu, a recipe from GM Matt Grippo. Age of Sail is a bracing rum cocktail, aged 4-6 weeks, smooth with El Dorado rum and Velvet Falernum, perked up by House Spirits coffee liqueur, Dolin Blanc white vermouth and housemade Teeccino (an herbal coffee) tincture. Bonus: as Blackbird hits its fourth anniversary over the next few weeks, they’ve refreshed the interior with a minor remodel and a new pool table.

Jasper's Koko Head

Jasper’s Koko Head

JASPER’S Koko Head ($10)
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The Koko Head cocktail is quintessential Kevin Diedrich (Jasper’s Bar Manager): nodding to Hawaii, where Diedrich has roots, and exemplifying the gratifying layers often found in his creations. Named after a famed Hawaiian hiking trail, the foamy drink weaves Appleton Reserve Rum with lush Kalani Coconut Liqueur, is frothy with egg white, refreshed by a pour of Kona Brewing Koko Brown Ale, another Hawaii inclusion.

HI LO BBQ’s Bajan Rum Punch ($10)

Hi Lo BBQ’s Bar Manager Michael Lazar unearthed this layered rum punch from the Sugar Reef Cookbook, an East Village restaurant/bar that closed before its time in the early 1990’s. This lively refresher mixes rum and lime with a house nutmeg almond syrup, reminiscent of orgeat. The drink makes a playful partner with Hi Lo’s gourmet BBQ and Southern-influenced dishes.

Fifth Floor's Marooned in Kingston

Fifth Floor’s Marooned in Kingston

FIFTH FLOOR’s Marooned in Kingston ($13)

Fifth Floor Bar Manager Brian Means and Pastry Chef Francis Ang team up on some of Means’ thoughtful cocktails. Ang occasionally adds gelatin-like spheres exploding with flavor, resting on an absinthe spoon atop the cocktail. Currently, that cocktail is Marooned in Kingston, a nod to Jamaican rum (Appleton Reserve), mixed with ruby port, Velvet Falernum, and fresh lime juice.  The sphere encapsulates the flavor profile of a classic Daiquiri with Denizen rum, lime and sugar.

LOLINDA’s The Lone Palm ($10)

Lolinda's Lone Palm

Lolinda’s Lone Palm

Served up in a coupe glass, former Bar Manager Chris Lane’s (who is now at Alembic) creation, The Lone Palm, thankfully remains on Lolinda’s current menu. This vibrant cocktail shows off elegantly funky Smith & Cross Rum (which they then spice in-house), the acidity of lime, grapefruit and bitters balanced by honey.

NOVELA’s Huckleberry Finn ($11)

General Manager Alex Smith and Maven‘s Bar Manager Kate Bolton have created an all-around winning menu at new Novela. The rum crowd-pleaser is Huckleberry Finn, in keeping with the bar’s literary-named cocktails. Served long, it’s a refreshing mix of silky El Dorado 8 year rum, tart lemon juice and grapefruit marmalade, topped with Fever Tree Tonic. Once finished, it is tempting to order another.