You know who knows best which bottles to buy? The people who pour and sell drinks—that’s who. We asked dozens of top bartending and spirits industry professionals to tell us which bottles they love and why.
Heads up: The numerical order below is not organized by importance or quality; it’s an alphabetical list, not a ranking. Prices are averages and can vary from state to state. And we have included a clairin.
“It’s smooth, dry, dark and delicious.”—Nathaniel Smith, creative director of bar and drinks at Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Minneapolis
“This Haitian clairin has the funkiness of a rhum agricole and makes a delicious Ti’ Punch.”—Shannon Ponche, head bartender at New York City's Leyenda
“It’s great go to in a Ti’ Punch—single species of sugar cane from Martinique. Add a little cane syrup and a squeeze of lime for any day, hot or cold.”—Nick Detrich, co-owner and bartender at New Orleans' Manolito
“When you need complex, vegetal and funky, look no further that this favored island juice.”—Smith
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“Rhum agricole aged in Limousin oak—what isn't to like? This is a whiskey drinker's rhum. This is my 100 percent go-to when someone tells me they don't like rum.”—Chad Michael George, partner and beverage director at Denver's The Way Back
“This is my dessert rum—bold, rich and crazy sweet.”—Adam Fortuna, assistant general manager and sommelier at Grand Rapids, Mich.'s Reserve Wine & Food
“It has tons of oak, with sugar in balance, and mixes well in cocktails and with other spirits.”—Fortuna
“I love the stuff coming off of all of the wooden stills at DDL. This one has a good bit of the wooden pot still blended into it for a nice funk.”—Detrich
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“It’s a 13-year-aged rum. The last year is aged in a used peaty scotch, giving it a lightly earthy, smoky flavor.”—Yani Moraitis Frye, owner, operator and head bartender at Detroit's Bad Luck
“This is one of the better flavored spirits available right now.”—Fortuna
“Another great example of rum without sugar added. This Trinidad vintage has a strong petrol quality and a soft vanilla finish. Definitely a sipper but could also work great in spirit-forward cocktails.”—George
“It’s made in Barbados at Foursquare distillery, and I don't think there's a better 12-year-old rum out there. No added sugar or coloring means this is as clean and real as any non-French-island distillate gets.”—George
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“This is a great time to support this Puerto Rican rum. It has a cool cola note.”—Ponche