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.
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.
“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.
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.
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