For far too long, rum has been living under the shadows of gin, whisky, and its other spirit sisters. It is now ready to take the spotlight, fuelled in part by a handful of bars who are stocking their shelves with bottles of rum from around the world.
It’s easy to see why: distilled from sugarcane, the versatile spirit can be enjoyed neat as it is, with ice, or shaken into cocktails to create a greater range of flavours. The spirit is slowly getting the spotlight it deserves – with these specialised bars and their rum-focused creations.
It’s sheer number is enough to impress: some 350 rum bottles from 40 countries line the bar counter. Choosing can be tricky for those who are fickle; their extensive collection range from the clear three-year-old Tanduay White Rum with tropical notes of coconut and cumin ($18) to the full-bodied 50-year-old El Dorado ($1,100) from Guyana, South America. But if you can, look beyond big-name distillers and give Origin Bar’s own line of 13 unique rum concoctions a try. There’s the Silver Spiced Rum Line ($22) made with four different rums infused with a special spice blend, and another with three varieties of rum aged in Thai young coconuts for over a week. The bar is also looking to continue growing its collection – until it is home to Asia’s largest collection of rum.
Until recently, The Bar at 15 Stamford carried one of Singapore’s largest rum collection – over 160 expressions sourced from around the world. That position has since been taken over, but the selection is still as exciting. One particular standout: the rare Silver Seal Fine Caroni Heavy Rum 1997 Wildlife series No. 2 from Trinidad’s long-closed Caroni Distillery ($70). Cocktails (from $18) are naturally rum-focused too, like the signature Plantation 1840 ($24) made with Black Tears, sweet vermouth, pineapple juice, sugarcane juice, lemon juice, and mint. In fact, the bar’s relationship with rum dates all the way back to the 1800s. The space that it now occupies was once host to Mr Joseph Balestier, the first appointed US consul to Singapore. He was also a sugarcane plantation owner who turned his crops into the spirit. And today, the spirit lives on, literally, in the many rum bottles that line the expansive 80-seater bar.
Commanding the space at Taki Taki is not DJ Snake or Selena Gomez, but rather, rum itself. This new tiki bar located above The Working Capitol, which opens as early as 4pm, serves a rum-focused menu for those who wish to start the party early. Groovy beats and tropical decor helps get you into the mood, but it’s really the signature rum-based cocktails that hit the spot. Each comes with a playful, local spin, like the Nonya daiquiri ($17) with Sailor Jerry, gula Melaka, coconut milk, and lime; or the Passion Panjang ($17) with Black Tears, passionfruit, and prosecco. They also have 13 different rums (from $15) and a selection of tacos ($16 for three) to get you in the mood to rumba.
The space is inviting, with palm plants, rattan furniture, and soft, warm lighting that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s house. Except this house comes lined with racks of spirits, and in particular, rum. Dozens of labels of rum, rhum, and ron (respectively, British-, French- and Spanish-style rums) that you can sip neat or shaken up in a cocktail. The bar even concocts its own rum infusions with herbs and spices. But if you cannot decide what to get, the Bago Build ($25) lets you customise your own tipple based on your mood and taste preference.
Located within the Potato Head Folk complex, Studio 1939 Lounge has long been partial to the sugarcane spirit. It seems only natural, given that the brand behind it is the famed Potato Head Bali tiki bar. Rum gets a dedicated section on the menu – some 40 different spirits are pulled from around the world, including rhum and ron (French- and Spanish-style variants of rum). Sip it neat, or have it shaken up into a cocktail like Rumy Honey Raisin with pineapple-infused overproof rum, or Hooked On A Feeling with its intoxicating mix of La Mauny Martinique rhum with Frangelico and Japanese cucumbers.
For what it lacks in numbers, the rum selection at Bob’s Bar makes up for in exclusivity. In particular, the bar has its own brand of rum, Navegante, made in collaboration with master distiller Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery fame in Barbados. This single-blended sugarcane spirit can be found in cocktails like an old fashioned ($22) and the barrel-aged El Presidente ($24), or enjoyed as it is ($18) for a full-bodied flavour hinted with notes of vanilla and raisins. There’s also head bartender Jan Jurecka’s Bosun’s Call ($24), where eight-year-old Barcardi is infused with pineapple and spices. It's a nod to the hotel’s naval past; a playful ode to the seafaring practice where sailors received their daily ration of rum.