I’m a day early for Old Fashioned week, but with this Rum Tiki Old Fashioned in hand, I don’t even care. A few weeks back I put together a rum old fashioned for you that was incredible with 8 year old aged rum. It had all the great elements of a whiskey old fashioned, but with the spice and sweeter notes of rum.
What I didn’t tell you was that I made two that night and I loved the other one just as well. This second rum old fashioned had different bitters in it and added just a smidge of coconut rum. Those two changes made it a completely different beast.
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I’ve talked before about the history of the old fashioned and the basics of the old fashioned as a cocktail. But I probably didn’t mention that the earliest forms of what we now call a cocktail were rum or rye based. Rum, rye, and brandy were the spirits most available in the early days of America. So, the very oldest of American drinks – were most likely not using bourbon or rye as we know it today.
The Flavors of Tiki in This Rum Old Fashioned
The Tiki movement is a broad collection of flavors and styles popularized in the mid-40s and 50s via soldiers returning from the war who had been stationed or fought in the South Pacific. The “Trader Vic” restaurant chain popularized what we now recognize as the visual style and cocktail basics of the Tiki movement.
I wanted to evoke thoughts of rich, rum-based Tiki drinks, so I settled on using a mature, aged rum, some Bittermens’ Elemakule “Tiki” bitters and Old Forester Smoked Cinnamon bitters. I also tied in a bit of rich honey-ginger simple syrup with the Fall Triple Simple Syrup and a tiny bit of coconut rum to the mix.
That coconut rum with the intense spices gives the drink a rich, sweet character, even as it’s full of bitters. It’s far too easy to sip. You’d better make two.
What Kind of Rum to Use
While you could use an unaged rum for this, or rhum Agricole, it works better to use an aged rum since we’re dealing with a riff on the old fashioned. The rum I’m using aged for 8 years in former bourbon casks, so you know I was happy with it since I’m whiskey crazy.
A funky Jamaican rum would be great in this, especially with the kick of coconut in it. I probably wouldn’t use a rum that’s too smooth, you might lose it in the Tiki flavors without a kick of a secondary, higher-proof rum.
While you could infuse the rum with coconut itself or add coconut cream, that would change the color of the cocktail, making it milky and cloudy, not at all the appearance of a traditional old fashioned.
Classic Tiki Garnish
While I could have stayed with the classic orange peel garnish here and been fine, I had the pineapple and wanted to Tiki things up a bit with a couple of pulled fronds for height and a little pineapple spear for just a bit more of the smell and taste of the tropics.
If you like Tiki-themed drinks, you might also like:
- Strawberry Pineapple Tiki Cocktail
- Boulevardier of Tiki Dreams
- Who’s Your Daddy? Coffee Pineapple Old Fashioned
- Pineapple Tiki Smash
- Whiskey Tiki Sour
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Rum Tiki Old Fashioned
- 2 oz aged rum
- ½ oz Fall Triple Simple Syrup see notes for link
- ¼ oz Hard Truth Coconut Rum
- 16 drops Elemakule “Tiki” bitters by Bittermens
- 16 drops Smoked Cinnamon bitters by Old Forester
- Garnish: pineapple wedge and fronds
- Combine rum, syrup, coconut rum and bitters in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with one large rock and garnish.