London’s best rum bars
Don’t let the low-key Deptford railway arch setting fool you – this bar is fully inspired by its owner’s childhood spent in Jamaica. The theme is pretty subdued, though, with a pineapple logo being about as garish as it gets. Instead, the bar puts its own slick touch on jerk chicken and rum classics. While their tropical takes on Martinis go down a strorm, it’s really all about Mama’s Homemade Punch when you’re after the most booze for your buck.
Check out this stylish west London haunt for Polynesian partying. It’s a little bit kitsch, but you won’t hear us complaining. Especially given that the rum line-up is one of the best in town. If you’re just in for the revelry rather than an education in the sugar-cane spirit, pretend you’re on hols by ordering a first-rate Piña Colada served inside a pineapple.
Taking up residency inside Haggerston’s Curio Cabal is veritable rum shack Island Social Club. The focus of the former roaming supper club is celebrating British Caribbean culture through a curated events programme, plus roti and rum aplenty. Punches are made from recipes handed down through generations and they even ‘stiffen’ their ginger beer with the spirit. Because that’s just what legends do.
This Cuban-themed basement den is a great spot in which to drift away on an island vibe. And there’s more rum here than you can shake a sugar cane at. Choose from light, dark, spiced and even pirate-friendly overproof. Visit during happy hour and bag two rum cocktails for £10, including Mojitos, Daiquiris and Rum Old Fashioneds.
The Brixton branch from the rum-and-jerk specialists is just as heartily stocked with booze as its sister venue in Soho. Plenty of space is set aside for diners looking to line their stomachs with Caribbean fare, but those in the know grab a seat at the bar for cocktails and party tunes played one way: loud. They do rum-filled twists on the classics alongside original recipes. Order the Rattle Skull Punch – it’ll put hairs on your chest.
The Notting Hill branch of Cottons holds a Guinness World Record for offering the biggest selection of rum in the world, with precisely 372 varieties to work your way through. Let experienced staff guide you on this tropical excursion or just hit Cottons for happy hour (5pm-7pm, every day), when rum-based cocktails from Cuba Libres to Reggae Rum Punches cost just £5. Extra Caribbean heat comes from steel drums and carnival dancers on special occasions, so keep your eye out for events.
It may come as a surprise that the bar at East London Liquor Company – where they’re well known for distilling quality craft gin – also specialises in rum-based cocktails. The indie drinks brand also produces its own Navy Strength rum off-site, so it’s time you got better acquainted with their offering in one of their original cocktail recipes. Try a Vin Diesel, made from ELLC demerara rum and riesling – it’s rocket fuel.
This hip Hackney bar up above Netil House has a roster of spirits as impressive as the New York-style lounge setting. If you want to enjoy rum away from the tiki frills or pirate add-ons, this one’s for you. They list around 20 rums from all over the world and use them to great effect in original cocktails. Or knock one back with a beer as a Boilermaker.
A surprise Hawaiian paradise awaits you underneath the Park Lane Hilton Hotel. Say aloha to Trader Vic’s, a part of tiki heritage. This London branch replicates the California original, which borrowed all kinds of style from Hawaii, and can also lay claim to inventing the Mai Tai cocktail. Try the hit rum drink at the London branch – served in several different styles – or explore Luau punches served from the bowl.
If you’ve never heard of Mahiki, you probably never read a tabloid paper in the noughties (fair play). The fading celebrity style of this Mayfair bar won’t be for everyone, but if you’re looking for rum in a tiki-themed paradise, you’ve come to the right place. From Punches to Coladas, Dark ‘n’ Stormies to Zombies, they have them all in abundance and they’re served in iconic shell-, ship- and coconut-shaped cups too.
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It’s over to Brazil at this favela-styled bar in Shoreditch. Live bands grace the stage with samba beats, so it would be rude not to order a rum cocktail to ease you further into the Latino mood. South American classics make up the menu, so choose from Daiquiris and Mojitos to warm things up, then move on to more tropical stylings as the night advances – from Mai Tais and flaming cocktails.
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