Have you recovered from your National Tequila Day bender? Good. Because August 16 is National Rum Day. One might say 2012 is the “year of rum,” and even its cousins, Rhum Agricole and Cachaça, are rising in popularity. With new expressions launching seemingly each week, New York City bars are responding in kind with a newfound respect for Tiki drinks and rum-based craft cocktails. Nocturnal rum enthusiasts will find asylum at any of these five venues in the city that never sleeps.

Credit: Facebook.com/The Rum House

The crew from whiskey mecca Ward III took over this weathered Theater District hotel bar last year and gave it a facelift, upping the rum (and whiskey) ante considerably. You’ll find 30 to 40 different rums, including rarities like El Dorado 21 ($20 a pour) and Black Tot ($150). Edison lights and a jazz piano give old-timey cred and bartenders pour strong, balanced rum old fashioneds, Tortugas, dark and stormies and crafty originals.

Credit: Facebook.com/Cienfuegos

Related: NYC’s 3 Best Bars For Punch

In addition to divine seasonal and perennial punchbowls like the autumn shake (El Dorado 15-year, lime, Benedictine, bitters, mint), you’ll find one of the few–or only–rum flight menus in the city, featuring geek-out options like Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-year, Flor de Caña 12-year and Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask, among others ($18 to $45 depending on the rums).

Credit: Astorroom.com

Opened last year in the former commissary space at the still-active Kaufman Astoria film studios (“Men in Black III” filmed there), The Astor Room strives to recreate the glamour of the roaring 20s with live piano music, updated old-school NYC fare like lobster thermidor and short rib stroganoff, and drinks named after early Hollywood royalty. The Mary Pickford ($10) features Cruzan silver rum, maraschino liqueur, grenadine and pineapple juice. Arrive on Tiki Tuesdays for more rummy delights.

(credit: Lana Kai/Facebook)

Related: NYC’s 4 Best Tiki Bars

This tropically-themed Tribeca watering hole features Polynesian-influenced cuisine like loco moco ($7) and pork buns ($8). You’ll find plenty of rum drinks on the craft cocktail menu, including the very popular (and blue) 808 State, made with Denizen, La Favorite and Banks 5 Island rums, blue curaçao, pineapple and lime juice, and velvet falernum for, $13. On Tiki Mondays, former Death & Co ‘tender Brian Miller collaborates with celeb bartenders to offer innovative “pirate” drinks.

(credit: Nights And Weekends)

Cash only establishmentSee Also: NYC’s Best Tapas

Williamsburg is lucky enough to host two rum-focused bars: Caracas Arepa Bar and the new Nights and Weekends from the guys behind Five Leaves. Inspired by the foods, drinks and vibe of Cuba and the West Indies, the menu offers up small plates like Crispy Rock Shrimp ($10) and plenty of rum-based cocktails including the slurp-worthy Rum Runner (Gosling’s Black Seal, creme de cassis, banana nectar, grenadine, $10) in a spartan, stylized space.

Robert Haynes-Peterson is an editor and freelance writer living in New York. He is certified by the American Sommelier Association through its 24-week Vinification and Viticulture program, and the government of Mexico through its Master Mezcalier program (continuing). His work can be found at Examiner.com.
  1. Robert H-P says:

    Cienfuegos Update: Carteles closed earlier this year to become a Chef’s Table for classes and events. Cienfuegos upstairs is alive and thriving.

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