Category Archives: rum

Walk the Line: Cockspur

cockspur rum

Cockspur is a rum you’ll see quite a bit of throughout the world (they have pretty wide distribution), but I hadn’t really run across it here in the U.S. until I started doing some homework for a recent rum+cigar pairing event I hosted.

Dating back to 1884 in Barbados, Cockspur has a pretty varied catalog of rums that will cover you for about any type of rum you may need, and because of this, I think they’ve earned a deserved place in our Walk the Line series.

Here’s a brief summary of each, pictured from left to right above:

Cockspur Overproof. So there’s really only 2 uses for overproof rum, which in this case clocks in at 65% ABV. Some tiki recipes use it as an ingredient, but mostly it’s the think you put in a volcano glass to light on fire in the middle. At $20 a bottle, Cockspur overproof is overwhelmingly butterscotch on both the nose and palate, but it’s not really meant to drink by itself.

Cockspur Fine. Let’s call this “regular” Cockspur. Aged a little bit, this rum has a cinnamon-and-sugar candy taste that has very little alcohol burn. It is a great fit for cocktails and is even good enough at $15-20 to sip on.

Cockspur Spiced. Spiced rums are my favorite choice for rum-and-Cokes, and Cockspur is one I haven’t tried before. The spice you’ll find here is really a Christmasy clove experience in the scent, but it’s surprisingly watery and sweet in the finish. In the $15 range, try this one if you love cloves.

Cockspur Old Gold. Now we’re getting into the truly aged Cockspurs. At 5 years old, this is a spicier rum than Fine, with some nutty banana flavors meeting the woody spice of the barrel. Definitely a sipping rum at $20-25 a bottle, this is a definite middle ground between the sweet Fine and the woody VSOR 12.

Cockspur VSOR 12. “Very Special Old Reserve” is a blend of rums up to 12 years old, and is spicier still than Old Gold. Almost apple-like in both flavor and nose, Cockspur VSOR 12 was the runaway favorite at our cigar pairing event and it’s only $30 a bottle. A great cigar pairer and a fun choice for a whiskey drinker who’s looking to experiment with aged rums, too.


Rojo Piñon Rum

rojo pinon rum

Part of what I do here at Simple Cocktails is give some extra (deserved) attention to my local distilleries. As of this month, 5 distillers have raised up in New Mexico, and I love to make sure they get all the exposure they can through this blog.

Left Turn Distilling, who already makes an excellent vodka and old tom gin, have just released Rojo Piñon Rum, which we tried recently on the podcast as well.

By my accounts, this is the first rum to be available from our current roster of distilleries. Adding the piñon has an interesting effect of both flavoring and “wood-ing” the rum to age it quicker. While this is by no means an aged rum, it has spent a few weeks in a barrel, and the macerated pinon shells are very brittle and woody too.

I initially tasted Rojo at a cigar/rum pairing event here in Albuquerque, and it was a good fit with a stogie. Later on, I tried it on it’s own, and it’s a little young yet to be a sipping rum, but it’s close. The flavor is good and the piñon element is really tasty, a bit oily and toasty too, but it feels like a little more time to mellow in a barrel would be great to get this to a “sipping” level. For cocktails, on the other hand, this is a good mixing rum, and makes tiki drinks pretty uniquely tasty. At $25 a bottle, it’s a worth first run at a unique southwestern rum.


Yellow Bird Cocktail

yellow bird cocktail

I’m not gonna lie: this is one of the most herbal, flavorful, tingle-your-tongue cocktails I’ve made in the last year, and it’s most certainly the most herbal rum cocktail I think I’ve ever tried (thanks Galliano!).

Yellow Bird Cocktail

  • in a shaker, combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1/2 oz Galliano
  • 1/2 oz triple sec
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • shake with ice and stain into a chilled cocktail glass

We’ve made a Yellow Bird on the Simple Cocktails Podcast, too. Listen here.

Palmetto Cocktail

palmetto cocktail

I recently got a new bottle of Bacardi (with the logo and font redesign) and I flipped through my cocktail books for some classic white rum cocktails. This one fascinated me – basically a rum version of a 50/50 Martini (equal parts liquor and vermouth), but with the addition of bitters.

As I looked around the web for versions of this drink, I think there should be two different versions of what I made here. First, the Palmetto with dry vermouth should use orange bitters, not aromatic, as the drink would be relatively clear and the flavor probably would be better. Second, you can make a Sweet Palmetto which would use rum, sweet vermouth, and probably your standard aromatic bitters.

Try both, and see which you prefer!

Palmetto Cocktail

  • 1 1/4 oz rum
  • 1 1/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Floridita Cocktail

floridita cocktail with appleton estate

Named for the Floridita Bar in Cuba, this cocktail is a pretty interesting mix of five ingredients, mostly familiar to the rum cocktail drinker, except for that little dash of creme de cacao in the mix (a chocolate liqueur).

If you’re a Daiquiri drinker, or maybe you’re looking for something new to try in rum drinks, but especially if you prefer sweet over tart, you’ll likely enjoy this tribute to the 2-century-old bar:


  • in a shaker combine:
  • 1 1/2 oz rum (I used Appleton Estate)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz white creme de cacao
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a lime wedge

Kingston Cocktail

kingston cocktail

The Kingston is a bit of a clash between styles – it’s both tropical and royal in one sip. Mostly a rum-based drink, the Kingston is jazzed up with a bit of gin, which adds some flavor, which works pretty well. It certainly drys out a drink that would be pretty sweet based on ingredients alone. Try out the Kingston and let me know what you think:


  • combine the following in a shaker:
  • 1 1/2 oz Jamaican rum (author Stuart Walton says, “it would be inappropriate to use rum for any other location.”)
  • 3/4 oz gin
  • juice of half a lime (which is about 1/2-3/4 oz)
  • 1/4 oz grenadine (I used Jack Rudy)
  • fill with ice and shake well
  • strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wedge


Owl’s Brew (A Tea Crafted for Cocktails)

owl's brew bottles

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Vijay gave me a report from the Fancy Food Show, and told me “there were two interesting cocktail phenomenons there: tea infused everything and lots of unique cocktail syrups.” After some brief investigation, I ended up with 3 bottles of Owl’s Brew on my doorstep. 

Owl’s Brew is a natural, slightly sweetened, tea cocktail mixer with simple mixing instructions: “2 parts Brew with 1 part booze.” Packed in cool, matte black apothecary bottles, Owl’s Brew will run you $10 for a 8 oz bottle or $17 for a 32 oz, and it’s available at many retail locations nationally and online.

The three flavors of Owl’s Brew are:

  • Classic is English Breakfast tea, lemon, lime, and agave. This one has a very familiar tea flavor with a lemony tang that you’re already familiar with. There are many liquors you can mix with this one, but we like gin or whiskey the best.
  • Coco-Lada is black tea with chai spices, coconut, and pineapple juice. As with the Classic, there are lots of ways to mix this one, but spiced rum seemed to be a perfect fit. Our Coco-Lada bottle was drained the day we opened it.
  • Pink & Black is the fruitier tea of the bunch, with darjeeling, hibiscus, lemon and strawberry juice. We mixed this one with whiskey and gin, and gin seemed to be the best fit, though I imagine a splash of Pink & Black in your champagne would be incredible as well.

owl's brew cocktails

There are lots of good recipes listed at the Owl’s Brew site, but we stuck with their motto recipe of “2 parts Brew and 1 part booze,” and made these two drinks:

Owl’s Pina (pictured top left)

Gin and Tea (pictured top right)

The Owl’s Pina is so good that our 8 oz bottle of Coco-Lada was gone before we could blink (8 oz is enough for 3-4 cocktails). Gin and Tea is a great cocktail, too, and a tea lover will really enjoy having a bottle of the Classic on hand. Classic would also taste great mixed 1-to-2 (reverse the usual ratio) with a wheat beer.

While tea in cocktails isn’t a new concept by any means, Owl’s Brew introduces your cocktails to tea in the simplest way possible. Natural ingredients and a great combination of flavors make their black bottles an excellent addition to the hit-or-miss world of premade cocktail mixers.

Liberty Cocktail

liberty cocktail

From what I hear, the Boston Tea Party wasn’t about tea at all, but a sugar tax (compounded on a molasses tax) which ultimately pushed the price of rum sky-high.

It makes sense, then, that rum (arguably the most popular liquor in early U.S. history) and apple (“as American as apple pie”) could foster some sort of patriotism for one drinking it, right? So maybe that’s a stretch, but regardless, here’s a great simple cocktail that is certainly a sip of liberty:

Liberty Cocktail

  • 1 oz rum
  • 2 oz applejack
  • dash simple syrup
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with an apple slice


rum alexander

In March 1974, John Lennon was out with friends and had a few too many of his favorite cocktail, the Brandy Alexander. Lennon ended up heckling the Smothers Brothers and was thrown out with his friends for fighting, The following day, Lennon sent several bunches of flowers out to those involved with apology notes. The note he sent to actress Pam Grier said:

Dear Pam,

I apologize for being so rude and thank you for not hitting me.

John Lennon

An Alexander is a cocktail that can be easily adapted to your favorite booze, though the Brandy Alexander is the most popular variety. Simply add 1 oz of dark creme de cacao (chocolate liqueur) and 1 oz of cream, finish with an ounce of your favorite booze, shake, and enjoy!


  • 1 oz of your choice: brandy, rum, gin, whiskey, vodka, or tequila
  • 1 oz dark creme de cacao
  • 1 oz cream
  • shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  • optional garnish of nutmeg on top

Christmas Day on the Morning Brew

Merry Christmas! If you caught my segment on the Christmas special episode of The Morning Brew, welcome to Simple Cocktails! Here are the recipes I shared – the second one was a favorite of The Big Man himself.

silent night rumchata cocktail

Silent Night (by Greg Mays)

  • 2 oz RumChata
  • 1 oz spiced rum
  • shake with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with a pinch of nutmeg

orange you glad it's new years cocktail

Orange You Glad It’s New Years? (by Greg Mays)

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz orange liqueur
  • 1 oz white chocolate liqueur
  • stir with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass
  • garnish with an orange slice