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  • Building and drinking a spirits collection (part 5): Rum

    This week introduces a crucial ingredient of a large number of the most well known cocktails: rum. Rum is a very varied spirit and this week's cocktails call for various different types of rum. It is possible to make all of the cocktails this week with just a single type but the best results will be obtained when using the right type of rum for the cocktail.

    This week I'm also bringing in a couple of new cocktail ingredients, namely grenadine, sugar syrup and Angostura bitters, these can be obtained from supermarkets for about £3-£4 so are only slightly more expensive than fruit juice. Since only a little of each is usually used, they will also last a long while. If you want to save a bit of money, both grenadine and the sugar syrup can be made at home.

    Grenadine is a red coloured syrup made from pomegranate juice, to make it at home, simply heat 250ml of pomegranate juice and dissolve 250g of sugar into it, the resulting mixture once cooled should be stored in a sealed container, such as an empty pop bottle. It will last about 4 weeks like this and a little longer if kept in the fridge.

    Sugar syrup can be made in a similar way using water instead of pomegranate juice. An alternative to sugar syrup is to just add sugar to the drink and stir till it dissolves.

    Two cocktails this week also feature absinthe as an optional ingredient. I was originally going to write an article on absinthe on its own however as bottles can get very expensive I decided that the best option was to put the absinthe variants of cocktails along side the non absinthe versions and you can make your own choice if you want to use it.

    Approximate cost per glass: varies

    • White rum
    • Golden rum
    • Dark rum
    • Pineapple juice
    • Grenadine
    • Green absinthe (optional)

    The zombie is a fairly impressive drink adapted for this article from a drink served at my favourite cocktail bar: the Evil Eye Lounge in York. Making this drink is far less of an exact science than previous cocktails and comes far more down to personal taste. The original drink uses about half a shot of seven different types of rum, the drink I made for the photo used only four. It's perfectly acceptable to make this with just a single type of rum, however you will get a much better flavour from using at least one golden, one dark and one white rum. If you have to use just a single type then a golden or dark rum would be best.

    Start by taking a glass and filling it with plenty of ice. Next take each of your rums in turn and layer equal quantities of each over the ice, making about 3 shots worth of rum in total, next top up the glass with pineapple juice allowing it to mix with the rum slightly. Add a dash of grenadine to the top of the glass, it should mostly sink to the bottom leaving a gradient of red to yellow going up the glass. If using absinthe you should now float a small quantity on top. Before drinking stir the drink slightly to avoid getting a mouth full of grenadine or absinthe as the first taste.

    Approximate cost per glass: £1 (normal) £2 (absinthe variant)

    • 50ml (2 shots) White rum
    • 1 lime
    • Handful of mint leaves
    • Dash of Angostura bitters
    • Dash of sugar syrup
    • Soda water to taste
    • 25ml (1 shot) absinthe (optional)

    The Mojito is probably the most complicated cocktail to make so far in this series, but it is also my favourite. Begin by quartering a lime, you can also put a couple of slits across the fruit as this helps the juice come out. Next place both the mint and the lime in a glass and crush them together with something suitable, I personally have a pestle designed for this however a wooden spoon or rolling pin work just as well. Once you have got most of juice from the limes add the rum, a dash of sugar syrup and a handful of ice and shake well. Top the drink off with soda water and add a couple of drops of bitters to the top.

    For the absinthe variant replace one shot of rum with one shot of absinthe following the same method as above leaving out the bitters.

    Classic daiquiri
    Approximate cost per glass: £1

    • 50ml (1 shot) Golden rum
    • 1 lime
    • Sugar syrup to taste

    I have already described in full a melon vodka daiquiri and mentioned how to adapt that to a raspberry vodka daiquiri. Both of these recipes work just as well replacing the vodka with rum making the drink much closer to a classic daiquiri, however the original daiquiri involves no fruit or crushed ice and as such makes a totally different type of drink.

    This drink can be served in either a short glass or a martini glass, whichever you choose, begin by chilling it. While the glass is chilling, squeeze a lime into a second glass add some ice, the rum and a dash of sugar syrup and shake. Once the glass has chilled, empty the water and ice and pour the mixture into the glass through a strainer to remove the ice.

    Piña Colada
    Approximate cost per glass: £1.50

    • 50ml (2 shots) Golden rum.
    • Pineapple juice to taste
    • Coconut milk to taste


    • 50ml (2 shots) Golden rum.
    • Pineapple juice to taste
    • 25ml (1 shot) Coconut rum (Malibu)


    • 50ml (2 shots) Golden rum.
    • 1 Pineapple
    • Coconut milk to taste

    The last cocktail this week really brings in a taste of the Caribbean. There are several ways to make this drink I'm going to describe three of them.

    The first method is using just golden rum, fill a glass with ice, add the rum and a small amount of coconut milk (about a shot is usually sufficient), then top off with the pineapple juice.

    For the second method, replace one shot of golden rum with a coconut rum such as malibu and don't use any coconut milk.

    The final method is slightly more involved, for this method you need a fresh pineapple so you will tend to end up with a few drinks worth – perfect for parties. Begin by removing the top, bottom and skin of the pineapple then quarter and remove the centre. Next slice the pineapple into chunks, place the chunks into a blender and purée. Next add the coconut milk, I tend to use about a can full (384ml), use the blender to mix it with the pineapple. To serve take a number of glasses, add a single shot (for a short glass) or a double shot (for a larger glass) of rum and some ice then divide the mixture equally between the glasses. Depending on the size of your pineapple and the quantity of ice you use, it will fill 4-6 large glasses or 8-12 smaller glasses.