Tequila may rule Taco Tuesdays, but rum deserves its moment in the sun, too. As such, the powers that be have ordained Tuesday, August 16, National Rum Day, a great day (as if any other day weren’t) for visiting the city’s buzzing bars. Forget the two-martini lunch - it’s time to get rumming.
Nice Mangoes: Housemade rum blend, mango, fresh lime, falernum (Jamaican sweet syrup), allspice bitters, absinthe
Sycamore Den gives classic libations a refreshing twist. Nice Mangoes, the Normal Heights cocktail haven’s version of the mango daiquiri, incorporates only fresh ingredients and raises the complexity with spicy, herbal and bitter notes. This novel take on an island favorite conjures images of palm trees and white, sandy beaches.
3391 Adams Ave., Normal Heights
Ancient Astronaut: Dark spiced rum, aged rum, Jamaican rum, grapefruit, lime, cinnamon bark syrup, absinthe.
Ancient Astronauts help patrons feel weightless at Kindred, a popular vegan restaurant in South Park. The cocktail’s flavor profile is layered with three types of rum and complemented by notes of cinnamon. Grapefruit juice lends a refreshing touch that balances absinthe’s herbal hints. This anti-gravity potion is available only on Thursdays, the venue’s weekly tiki-takeover.
1503 30th St., South Park
Hamilton’s Hornblower: Demerara rum, Navy-strength rum, Bianco vermouth, lemon, pineapple, cinnamon, pomegranate, champagne.
With 30 rums in its beverage program, Kettner Exchange offers a port in the storm for discerning cocktail lovers. The Little Italy hotspot’s Hamilton’s Hornblower incorporates tropical and spice notes along with pomegranate’s tartness and a refreshing dose of bubbles. It’s strong enough to make a sailor blush, yet delicate enough to be served in a punch-bowl-style vessel and shared with ladylike landlubbers.
2001 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy
Austrian Muscle Relaxer: Stroh 160-proof Austrian butterscotch rum, light rum, coconut syrup, maraschino liqueur, fresh pineapple and lemon juice.
Over-the-counter painkillers have nothing on this over-the-bar elixir from Fairweather beverage director Anthony Schmidt. The formula is simple: butterscotch plus cherry plus pineapple and coconut equals a lazy afternoon in the sun on the venue’s outdoor deck, which Schmidt refers to as “an island in the sky.”
793 J St., East Village
Dragoncello: Rum, tarragon, orange blossom water, lime, absinthe.
A member of the sunflower family, tarragon lets the sunshine into a flavorful cocktail at Catania. The herb appears in the La Jolla snazzy restaurant-and-bar’s Dragoncello, balancing the drink’s sweetness stemming from rum and orange blossom water. Served in a delicate coupe glass, it’s the perfect pairing for a sunset over the ocean.
7863 Girard Ave., La Jolla
Tortuga: Overproof blended black rum, sweet vermouth, crème de cacao, housemade curaçao, housemade grenadine, fresh lemon, lime and orange juice.
Credited with building the nation’s largest rum collection, San Francisco bar owner and author Martin Cate partnered with San Diego hospitality purveyors CH Projects in creating False Idol, the hidden bar within Little Italy’s Craft & Commerce. The conglomeration has produced, among other noteworthy cocktails, the tantalizing Tortuga. “Classic tiki is less about the beach,” says Cate, “than the elegant, romantic and escapist feel of a torch-lit twilight escape on a distant atoll.”
675 W. Beech St., Little Italy
Treasure Chest Punch: Aged rum, champagne, pineapple, lime, orange juice, orange curaçao, vanilla gomme syrup, Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters (serves eight).
Entire bottles of rum and champagne appear in this family affair - an eight-person cocktail experience that really packs a punch. Sweet and exotic, the monstrous libation has notes of baking spice, tropical fruit and vanilla. On another note, call Uber.
4696 30th St., North Park
Surfer in Panama: Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Gold Rum, Amaro Meletti, Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur, fresh pineapple, pressed lime, Angostura bitters.
Thanks to the Surfer in Panama, one of six rum-based cocktails on the forward-thinking beverage menu at Masters Kitchen & Cocktail in Oceanside, hanging ten (or maybe 20 minutes) doesn’t require jumping in the water. Inspired by local wave-riding culture, this chilled-out concoction uses Jamaican rum distilled from molasses. The seafaring spirit has flavors of banana and spice, and is aged for up to five years.
Masters Kitchen & Cocktail
208 South Coast Highway, Oceanside