We’re living in the golden age of spirits. Never before have there been more bottles of booze vying for a parking space on your bar cart. We lean on the pros to help you build a bottle list from scratch. Whether you’re new to the world of rum or looking to make a few overdue upgrades to your personal stash, chances are you could use an expert’s advice. Enter Kenneth McCoy, the chief creative officer of Public House Collective and a founding partner of the group’s New York City bars, including The Rum House and Ward III, where he lords over a rum list 100 bottles deep. That’s probably a bit steep for your purposes, so we asked McCoy to whittle down the list to just five bottles. These are the essential rums for your home bar.
BRUGAL EXTRA DRY SUPREMO ($20)
Once again, McCoy decides to be action-oriented and plan first for his cocktails. “Brugal Extra Dry is perfect for the Mojitos and Daiquiris you’ll be making for all of your house parties,” he says. It’s perfect for simple drinks in which the right rum can shine through and elevate the whole. “This bottle is dry with some citrus, and it’s also great when you just need a Rum & Coke!”
GOSLING’S BLACK SEAL ($20)
Choosing the right rum means thinking carefully about what cocktails you want to make, and for McCoy, that makes Gosling’s a natural pick. “Because you’re going to have to make a Dark ’N Stormy,” he says. “And this is an essential ingredient for that drink.”
While the typical recipe calls for ginger beer, McCoy suggests using fresh pressed ginger—a quarter ounce will be more than enough—to kick things up. With that, he adds in lime, simple or demerara syrup, and sparkling water, livening up the classic in a new way.
MOUNT GAY ECLIPSE ($20)
“This is the original golden amber rum—toasty, banana, spice,” says McCoy. “Mount Gay Eclipse makes a great, refreshing drink with some ginger beer.” So if you went fresh ginger with the Gosling’s above, you can break out the ginger beer now instead.
“It also works great in an Old Cuban,” says McCoy. The cult-favorite cocktail combines mint, lime and simple syrup with a hefty topper of Champagne.
PLANTATION O.F.T.D. ($25)
“Overproofed and coming in at almost 140 percent ABV, it’s like drinking a rich leather bag that has been sitting in the sun maturing for years,” McCoy says of this bottle, which captivated rum drinkers when it was released almost two years ago. “Who knew leather would drink so good?
“It’s great alone or with a cube,” says McCoy. He also recommends using it in a Mai Tai or Planter’s Punch.
SANTA TERESA 1796 SOLERA ($40)
First released in 1996 to celebrate the brand’s bicentennial, the Venezuelan rum has since made its way stateside and thankfully so. “It’s my all-around favorite for everything,” says McCoy. “Dry, clean and irresistible, it makes a fabulous Daiquiri or Rum Old Fashioned.”
But why stop there? “You can have it neat or on the rocks,” says McCoy. “It’s my go-to.” Add it to your home bar, and it may just become yours, too.