Cocktail Club

‘Get all of the rum!’: How to mix an Old Fashioned for rum lovers

"No other cocktail allows rum to flex the strength of its diversity quite so well," writes Pearl and Lime's Palmer Matthews.

Join the Cocktail Club in mixing rum cocktails with host Jackson Cannon and Pearl and Lime's Palmer Matthews on Thursday, May 27 at 7 p.m. Julia Gartland/The New York Times

Buying a bottle of rum can be a tricky affair. Regardless of whether you’re a discerning drinker or if you’re looking to add a little pep to your Coke, you’ll be presented with a multitude of options.

The humblest packy and the most cavernous retail giant will both have rums, rons, and rhums from the Caribbean, South America, India, Ipswich, etcetera, etcetera.

So, what’s a tippler to do? Sure, you could spend hours on one of the many message boards devoted to the discussion of each rum’s merits. Or you could haunt cocktail bars and liquor stores, sampling the vast array of options until you’re properly groggy.


However, I’d urge you to join us merry pack rats who have learned that the best course of action is to: Get all of the rum! Rum is, after all, the most diverse spirit in the whole wide world. There are the funktastic rums of Jamaica, the sweet, grassy rhums of Martinique, and the rich, unctuous dark rums of Guyana, to name a few. And the category is becoming more diverse by the day as producers around the world hold themselves to increasingly rigorous standards. 

But what’s to be done when your bottles of pirate juice start to multiply and overrun a concerning amount of your living space? Well, my friend, that’s where the Old Fashioned comes in. Without equal in the cocktail world, the Old Fashioned has truly stood the test of time, weathering countless fads and enduring Prohibition itself. And while “Old Fashioned” will conjure images of bourbons and ryes in the minds of most, no other cocktail allows rum to flex the strength of its diversity quite so well.

Rum is so diverse, and yet intermingles so well, that you can continually blend and experiment and never cease to be pleased. The mix and match, plug and play nature of a rum Old Fashioned means that even if it becomes your go-to cocktail, you can practically drink a lifetime’s worth and never have the same drink twice. If you so choose, of course. But should you come across that perfect, heady blend of rums and bitters, make sure you write it down before venturing forth with further rum research, lest they become the rums that got away.

What you’ll need

Rum Old Fashioned du Jour (or “The Rum Old Fashioned That I Drank While Writing This”)



  • 1 ½ oz. Santa Teresa 1796 (Venezuelan Amber Rum)
  • ½ oz. El Dorado 12 Year (Dark Guyanese Rum)
  • ¾ oz. Smith & Cross (Overproof Jamaican Rum)
  •  ¼ oz. Rich Demerara Syrup (Two Parts Demerara Sugar to One Part Water)
  • 2 dashes Bittermens Transatlantic Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters


Build the cocktail over the nicest hunks of ice that you’ve got, garnish with an orange twist, sip, breath a sigh of existential relief, and enjoy.

Palmer Matthews is managing partner at Pearl and Lime in Quincy.

Join our next virtual cocktail class

Join us Thursday, May 27,  at 7 p.m. for’s Cocktail Club with host Jackson Cannon and his special guest Palmer Matthews, managing partner at Pearl and Lime in Quincy. This week they’ll be making cocktails with Santa Teresa rum, catching up about the Boston restaurant and bar scene, and sharing tips the pros use to make great drinks at home. They’ll be mixing a classic Mai Tai and a rum Old Fashioned. Everything you’ll need is listed here with a link to purchase your cocktail kit through Gordon’s Fine Wine and Spirits.

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