Rum cocktail with garnish on a bar acomaponied by a bottle of rum.

Craft Rum Cocktails: From Distillery to Glass

Versatile yet underrated, rum has upped the quality stakes when it comes to production and cocktail creation. Discover the latest craft production methods and how to take your rum cocktails beyond traditional serves.

Author: Evica Domonji, World Class Slovakia Champion and Bartender at Mirror Bar, Cartlon, Bratislava.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes


With a recent rise in craft production methods and exciting new rum varieties to experiment with behind the bar, mixologists now are switching up their menus with high-quality rum expressions that go beyond the traditional Daiquiri or Pina Colada.

World Class Slovakia winner and bartender Evica Domonji uncovers the process behind premium rum production and shares top tips for levelling up your rum cocktails. 

“Don't be afraid to get creative with your rum cocktails. Try using unique ingredients, infusions, or more advanced techniques to create signature rum cocktails that will impress guests and keep them coming back.”

Evica Domonji


Evica tells us, "Rum has really evolved as a category in recent years, opening up a whole world of possibilities for bartenders to get creative and make exciting sips for guests."

It’s not just about white, dark and spiced rum anymore. There’s bourbon-barrel aged, single-origin, flavoured and non-alcoholic rum, and the category is only growing. 

“Now, more focus is on craft production methods” Evica explains, as distillers are investing more in things like terroir, which is the environment the raw materials are grown in, including climate and soil. This is creating better quality rum and a whole new set of “unique flavour profiles for bartenders” to experiment with.


1. Choosing high-quality raw ingredients: Firstly, premium rum distillers should always start with “the selection of high-quality sugarcane.” Sugarcane is a tropical plant that stores sucrose, a crystallisable sugar. Evica emphasises, “this is crucial, as it forms the base of rum.”

TREND ALERT: She says, “an exciting, new type of rum sip that’s being made right now is single-origin rums which is rum made from sugarcane grown in specific regions which give the spirit more nuanced flavour profiles.”

2. Fermenting: This is the part where the base ingredients including sugarcane are fermented to turn sugars into alcohol. Distillers creating high-quality rum will only use “very specific yeast strains which is carefully controlled to bring out select flavours in rum”.

FUN FACT: Guatemalan premium rum Zacapa uses a strain of yeast from pineapples which imparts tropical aromas and flavours.

3. Distilling: In this stage, the alcohol is purified by heating and vaporising it. Rum is often distilled using either pot stills or column stills.

FUN FACT: Pampero actually uses three types of still – column, kettle batch and copper – which is what gives the spirit such broad palette of flavours.

4. Ageing: Rum can be aged in a variety of casks, with ageing length varying from 1­ to 30 years. Evica explains, “this adds complexity and depth, with master blenders carefully selecting and blending different barrels to achieve the desired flavour profile.”

FUN FACT: Don Papa Rum is aged in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for 7 whole years, which gives the rum notes of caramel, vanilla, and the subtle spice of bourbon.

5. Bottling and packaging: The final part of the process, Evica emphasises, “bottling and packaging has to be done with loads of attention to detail to make sure rum is presented in the best possible way.”­­­


1. Choose the right rum: “Make sure it’s high-quality. A couple of my favourites are Zacapa and Don Papa Rum. You can tell if a bottle is high-quality by learning about its production methods and reputation.”

2. Understand its flavour profile: “When selecting rum for cocktails, you should first understand the rum's flavour profile which can range from sweet and fruity, to spicy and oaky. By getting to know the flavour profile, you can choose ingredients that enhance the rum's natural flavours.”

RUM COCKTAIL INSPO: “Combining fresh orange juice and pineapple cordial can enhance tropical tones of Zacapa and open up loads of opportunities for Zombie cocktail twists.”

3. Get the correct glassware: “You want to serve rum cocktails in glassware that enhances the drinking experience from a flavour, aroma and presentation perspective. Use thicker glasses for classy, minimalist touch – this is very trendy right now. Sometimes, less is more.”

RUM COCKTAIL INSPO: “Use a rocks glass for spirit-forward cocktails like a rum old fashioned, or a tiki mug for tropical rum drinks like Mai Tai.”

4. Pay attention to presentation: Garnish your rum cocktails with fresh fruit, herbs, spices, and dehydrated dust to add visual appeal and enhance the flavour profile.”

RUM COCKTAIL INSPO: “Instead of a throwing a bunch of mint in your Mojito, you can make mint candy which can be eaten instead of thrown away, or mint dust on crushed ice with a citrus oil parfum for aromas can elevate your Mojito to a completely next level.”

5. Don’t forget mouthfeel: “You should also pay attention to the texture and mouthfeel of the cocktail so it creates an all-round amazing experience for the palette.”

6. Get experimental: “Don't be afraid to get creative with your rum cocktails. Try using unique ingredients, infusions, or more advanced techniques to create signature rum cocktails that will impress guests and keep them coming back.”


Ready to make some quality rum cocktails? Evica will help get ideas flowing with these three exclusive rum recipes:

Sky Banana

A tropical fusion of Zacapa Grand Solera Reserva, banana liqueur, lime juice, and grapefruit soda, garnished with a fragrant grapefruit zest oil and an edible flower.


A fizzy passionfruit delight with a zesty finish, crafted with a perfect blend of Pampero Rum, prosecco, lime and passionfruit syrup.

Don Fashioned

A minimalist, rum-based twist on the classic Old Fashioned with Don Papa Rum and an extra citrusy zing.


Finally, when it comes to elevating your guest's experience and encouraging them to try rum cocktails, Evica advises “you should always tailor your communication style to your guest’s level of rum knowledge.”

  • For novices (newbies): “explain the different types of rum and how they can affect the flavour of the cocktail.
  • For aficionados (experts): “talk to them about the rum’s history and production methods.
  • For rum curious guests: “offer tasting flights that showcase a variety of rums and cocktail styles. This allows guests to compare different flavours and find their favourite.”


  1. Rum quality has really evolved as a category in recent years with more focus on artisanal production methods including creating single-origin rums and ageing in unique casks such as ex-bourbon barrel oak casks.
  2. You can tell a bottle’s quality by reading into its production methods and reputation.
  3. When selecting rum for cocktails, get to know the rum's flavour profile. By understanding the flavour profile, you can choose ingredients that enhance the spirit's natural flavours in your rum recipes.
  4. Don't be afraid to get creative with your rum cocktails. Try using unique ingredients, infusions, or more advanced techniques to create signature rum cocktails that will impress guests.
  5. When serving guests, tailor your communication style to their level of rum knowledge.