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Rum running
Five cocktails incorporate the quintessentially summer spirit

Photos by Matt Haas

August 2016


Foundation Bar

Come summertime, folks go rum running. Interest in rum in all of its tasty, molasses-based glory is growing, as mojitos, mai tais and even upscale cuba libres are perfect patio sippers.

"There’s a renewed interest in rum," says Nate Norfolk, certified sommelier and director of wine and spirits at Ray’s Wine and Spirits in Wauwatosa. "There’s especially a growing interest in the whole tiki culture thing, and there’s a growing interest in home cocktail making. People now have a larger home bar, and it’s not uncommon for my customers to have three or four different kinds of rum."

"The gins, the bourbons, the whiskeys — they’ve all had their bubble and shine," says Daniel Thomas, national brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry spiced rum, who recently visited Milwaukee to orchestrate a rum cocktail competition. "Rum is that next big thing. Part of that is the big tiki boom, but rum is also being used for culinary cocktails and those five-step cocktails. There’s a curiosity, and people are really having fun creating a modern riff on a classic cocktail, like a rum Manhattan, old-fashioned or sidecar."

Lethal Loving From a Stranger Named Esteban

Norfolk says people now seek out rums from different areas of the globe. "I get that question several times a week — ‘Do you have a Jamaican rum or a rum from Venezuela or Guyana?’" Norfolk says.

Here are five tropically inspired drinks to savor:

Wauwatiki Sour

Wauwatiki, 6502 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 323-7555,

With nearly 20 rum drinks on the menu, it’s hard to pick just one, but try the signature Wauwatiki Sour, which is made with Plantation Original Dark rum. Frothy, yet rich and bold in flavor, it’s unlike any other sour in town.

Lethal Loving From a Stranger Named Esteban

Lucky Joe’s Alchemy and Eatery, 1424 Underwood Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 399-7499,

Aged Don Q rum, plus a marmalade simple syrup and two types of bitters — what’s not to love?

Planter’s Punch

Foundation Bar, 2718 N. Bremen St.,

(414) 374-2587,

Yes, the mai tai made with Trader Vic’s signature 1944 recipe is undeniably delicious, and so is the Rum Barrel and nearly 30 other rum drinks, but my favorite at Milwaukee’s oldest – and still running! – tiki bar is the Planter’s Punch. Dark, yet sour and sweet, and undeniably refreshing.

Rum Old-Fashioned

Buena Vista Bar and Grill, 685 E. Valley Road, Oconomowoc Lake, (262) 354-0949,

This signature drink first appeared on the menu to celebrate Father’s Day, but you don’t have to be a dad to enjoy this rum-riffic take on a Wisconsin favorite.

Dr. Dewlittle

Dock18 (located in the Twisted Path Distillery tasting room), 2018 S. First St., (414) 405-8900,

Bartender Brandon Reyes "knocked the socks off the judges" earlier this summer at the Sailor Jerry’s Beat It Rummy cocktail competition by creating a Colonial-era Sailor Jerry Winter Punch, but with the warmer weather, try his twist on a daiquiri, using Twisted Path white rum, lime, honeydew melon syrup, Bittercube Jamaican #2 bitters and a touch of cayenne pepper oil. The oil floats on top of the drink in darling, little red spheres. m



This story ran in the August  2016 issue of: