Move over fruity rum drinks. The Caribbean’s favorite spirit has caught the attention of connoisseurs. These enlightened imbibers shun blenders and fruit garnishes in favor of snifters, and sample small-batch rums and artisanal blends that need no enhancements beyond a comfortable atmosphere. Hoteliers have taken note, and a new breed of rum bars is cropping up across the Caribbean. Here are five of the best places to savor the spirits with island style.
The Cane Bar at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia
Much more than a beach bar, The Cane Bar offers a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere where there are no distractions to take away from the pleasures of sampling premium rums. Located inside the resort’s Great House, the room features a subdued white and pale charcoal design palette. Oversized chairs sit around tables and living room style arrangements provide group settings and the sleek white bar offers alternative seating. Prized artworks hangs on the walls, and the shelves behind the bar are lined with an extensive selection of expertly chosen local and international rums. With many choices on hand there is a professional rummelier to help with your selection. When hunger strikes, a Japanese-inspired menu includes a selection of fresh- catch sashimi and a variety of rolls. Signature dishes include the Caribe Roll, which is wrapped in mango, and the Cane Bar Roll with spicy stone crab and avocado. The bar is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and you’ll want to leave your beach togs back in the room and dress “smart casual” for the evening.
Rhum Room at Zemi Beach House, Anguilla
One of the newest and now most popular boutique resorts in the Caribbean boasts Anguilla’s first rum bar. The design of the Rhum Room at Zemi blends modern accents with classic Caribbean architectural details to create a sophisticated yet beach-ready vibe. This setting is enhanced by the natural backdrop of Shoal Bay East, which has been called one of the world’s best beaches. The bar features over 100 small-batch, single-estate rums selected to showcase the breadth and diversity of the Caribbean’s distilling traditions. Guests can delve into the world of rum by sampling the curated Rhum Flight, which includes a selection of rums assembled by the house rummelier. The inventory includes bottles of Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, of which only 800 bottles are available to the public worldwide. Also in the collection is Clément Cuvée Homère, the highest rated vintage rum in the past 15 years, and the recently released premium Brugal Papá Andrés, which is a handcrafted blend created by master blender Maestros Roneros.
Rum Bar at Cooper Island Beach Club, BVI
You wouldn’t expect to find a well stocked rum bar to be on a tiny island in the British Virgin Islands. With just nine rooms set around a remote bay, the Cooper Island Beach Club caters to those wanting to get away from it all. Day sailors will sometimes stop in for lunch or dinner at the club’s restaurant as part of an island- hopping itinerary. In 2015, mariners found another reason to stop when Cooper Island added the Rum Bar and then a microbrewery. Patrons can sit beachside on wooden benches made from recycled teak and the reclaimed wood of boats, or hang at the bar for some serious tastings. The bar boasts the largest collection of rums in the Virgin Islands, with more than 150 labels from distilleries around the world. A sampler board introduces patrons to the world of premium rums, and the bar staff is on hand to offer suggestions and share tidbits on the origins and history of the labels, and on the general craft of rum making. Signature rum cocktails are accented with fruits and herbs grown at the onsite organic garden, and the bar creates proprietary rum infusions with flavors such as such as honey and lemon, hazelnut praline and jalapeño.
101 Rums Bar, Four Seasons Nevis
Take a seat at the pastel painted bar, where large open windows frame views of the colorful fishing boats lined up on Pinney’s Beach, with the green slopes of St. Kitts as the backdrop. The 101 Rums Bar is housed inside Mango, the Four Seasons open-air beach restaurant. Set on water’s edge, the restaurant and bar offer the best sunsets on the island. Guests can sample signature cocktails like Nevisian Spirit or the 100 Mile Cocktail, which is made exclusively from ingredients harvested within 100 miles of the resort. Serious rum drinkers can bypass the mixed fare and focus on tastings and sippings of some of the world’s premier rums such as Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, El Dorado 25 Year Old and Pyrat Cask. With over 101 aged rums and a selection of artisanal rhum agricoles to choose from, there’s a flavor to please every palate. Weekly rum tastings are on the itinerary, and guests should plan on arriving for sunset, as the bar is open only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Reef’s Rum Bar at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas
One of the first rum bars to grace the Caribbean combined premium labels with a memorable setting. Located just off the main lobby, the Reef’s Rum Bar offers a sophisticated indoor seating area that opens to an expansive outdoor terrace that delivers harbor views and a panoramic sweep of the mountains of St. Thomas. The indoor bar features small, intimate tables that become gathering points for smaller groups, as well as high-tops and flat screen TVs where guests can mingle and catch their favorite sports game as they sip and relax. There are a number of premium rums available for tasting, as well as a creative roster of handcrafted cocktails. Many of the drinks are made with Cruzan rum, locally distilled and bottled on sister island St. Croix. Try the signature cocktails like the Reef Rum Punch or Mango Tango.