Blackstrap rum rarely takes center stage. Instead, the spirit is often relegated to supporting roles alongside funkier rums or more bracing ingredients. In part, this stems from the nebulous nature of the rum—in fact, few can agree on what defines the category—but with its signature molasses character and robust, earthy flavors, blackstrap rum adds richness and complexity to a variety of cocktails.
As a supporting character, blackstrap rum pairs well with spice and herbaceousness, as evidenced by the classic Dark ’n’ Stormy, where it’s topped with spicy ginger beer in the perennial summer standby. In the drink’s lighter counterpart, the Session Dark ’n’ Stormy, the rum portion is dialed back for a lower-proof serve, but its caramel notes still provide a rich backbone to the cocktail, which is rounded out with Amaro Montenegro. The Stygian Mojito, too, benefits from blackstrap rum’s richness of texture and flavor, bolstered by Demerara simple syrup and complemented with minty, herbal Branca Menta.
Because of blackstrap’s sweet, viscous quality—it’s sometimes compared to maple syrup—it’s particularly favored alongside bitter ingredients. For example, the spirit holds its own against a Ferrari blend (Fernet-Branca mixed with Campari) in The Black Stallion Sets Sail, overproof brandy and amaro in The Revenant, and cold-brew concentrate in the Wipeout. In the latter, the rum is used “to enhance the flavor of other rums,” according to the drink’s creator, Death & Co.’s Tyson Buhler, exemplifying its ability to excel even when it’s not the star.
Where blackstrap rum does take a leading role, it’s a dramatic one: In the Corn ’n’ Oil, a float of the rum sits atop a combination of Velvet Falernum, bitters and lime juice. The spirit’s dark hue, calling petroleum to mind, acts as the “oil,” adding a visual flair before being stirred into the mixture, where it adds fortifying structure and a signature rich profile. As Buhler explains, “It’s not a rum that I particularly want to enjoy on its own, but it’s a flavor that we can’t find anywhere else.”