Rum fuels the daiquiri and the Cuba Libre, the Mai Tai and the mojito, the pina colada and the zombie. And by now you must be ready for a summery cocktail. Or at least a very good sipper.
Consider investing in the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva ($40), which is excellent on its own, offering a hint of orange peel. The layered, balanced Venezuelan rum also will embolden and enrich any substantial cocktail. Fine neat, too. Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron ($25) is a smooth choice, with a light note of oak. It's versatile, but best for inclusion in almost any rum cocktail.
Rhum Clement celebrated its 125th year with a limited-edition bottle of its refined V.S.O.P. ($45), this one sporting a graffiti-style label from artist JonOne. The flavorful Martinique rum, with its trademark suggestion of tropical fruit, may be enjoyed many ways, from aperitif to digestif. Expect a very liberated Cuba Libre, but be sure to make it with Mexican Coca-Cola, which is sweetened with cane sugar.
Bacardi Facundo Exquisito ($120), finished in sherry casks, is a lush, expressive rum, made with a blend of rums that have been aged seven to 23 years. Have this Bacardi neat.
Among the local establishments with notable cocktails is Phat Daddy's in Oceanside. They present a spin on the daiquiri and pina colada themes: half strawberry daiquiri and half pina colada, simultaneously poured into a pint glass. You will not mistake it for an Arnold Palmer.