I treat the national food holidays like I do my birthday: I only like to acknowledge the really good ones. National Hamburger Day, National Wine Day, National Mac n’ Cheese Day? Yes, I see you, I hear you, I’m down to party with you. But, like, National Fig Newton Day? Nope, sorry, no thanks, keep walkin’.
Fortunately, we’ve got another good one coming up on August 16th: National Rum Day.
Now, we could have easily chosen to celebrate the occasion with a collection of our favorite rum-based cocktails or desserts. The internet is awash with an abundance of those. But we didn’t want to stop it at that because we know this spirit has more culinary tricks up its sleeve than it’s given credit for. A world of sweet and savory-inspired possibilities: Glazes (lots of glazes), marinades, sauces, braising liquids, you name it. This way, you can celebrate National Rum Day with not just one course of rum, but an entire menu of rum-based dishes, from the cocktail hour through, apps, entrée, and dessert, of course.
I know craft cocktails, I appreciate craft cocktails. But I have absolutely no shame in admitting that a have a soft spot for the “basic” frozen cocktail. You know, the ones served in a hollowed-out piece of tropical fruit and stabbed to death with colorful paper umbrellas and plastic tchotchkes? So while nothing will ever take the place of my go-to classic Daiquiri in my heart, I’d like to take this opportunity to give it up and show my love for its often maligned cousin. Here’s lookin’ at you frozen pineapple daiquiri, I’ll meet you out by the pool. Get our Frozen Pineapple Daiquiri recipe.
Those who’ve partied on the street of New Orleans know, few cocktails will rock you quite like a Hurricane. A delicious, deceivingly daring combination of light and dark rum, passion fruit syrup, grenadine, and orange juice (aka boozy fruit cocktail), the cocktail gets an even more party-appropriate makeover here by taking on the form of a jelly shot. Get our Hurricane Jelly Shots recipe.
In case you hadn’t heard, summer is for spritzes: That delightful category of cocktail that takes an already delicious cocktail and improves it with a splash of bright, tingly sparkling wine. (Or sometimes water, but c’mon we’re not here for that.) This variation on the classic island cocktail has dark rum share the spotlight with a couple ounces of French fizz, making it a great choice for those who don’t too hard-boozy. Get our Mai Tai Spritz recipe.
Apps and Small Bites
Not to rag on Buffalo-style, but I prefer my wing sauce with a bit more of a lip-tingling kick. If you fall in the same camp, give this fiery, sticky-sauced version a try. And don’t worry, the sweetness of the honey in the glaze will help temper the heat . . . a little. Get the recipe.
Let’s taco-bout (sorry, I really can’t help myself) how jazzed your guests will be to dig into these bite-sized starters. Lighter, fruitier white rum gets the double-feature treatment here: Staring in both a glaze for the shrimp and as an accent in the tropical fruit salsa. Get the recipe.
The classic light rum, lime, and mint-based cocktail is reimagined as a ceviche in this clever recipe. The trifecta of ingredients instead becomes the seasoning with which to flavor a fresh combination of white fish (tilapia, sea bass, halibut), scallops, and shrimp. Get the recipe.
Sweet, fork-tender seared scallops take a turn towards with tropics with this orangey, rum-spiked butter sauce. Served over citrus zest-seasoned rice, polenta, or even a chunky plantain mash. Get the recipe.
Sweet and savory FTW, my friends! Chunky apricot preserves and spiced dark rum come together in a simple, glossy glaze that gives your ham a can’t-beat, opposites-attract kind of star power. Get the recipe.
While the marinade for this steak can be adapted to help polish off the almost-finished bottle of bourbon or red wine hanging around your bar (I know, as if you really needed the help), the caramel-sweetness of dark rum works especially well with the salty soy sauce. Get the recipe.
Remember those ribs with spiced rum-pineapple BBQ sauce we mentioned up there? They’re going to be a little lonely on the plate without a generous scoop of these smoky-sweet baked beans next to them. Get our Boston Baked Beans recipe.
If you’re looking to rum-spike your sides, a glaze is definitely the way to go. Hearty root vegetables like carrots and yams, or members of the squash family—all of which get slightly sweeter as the cook—are all great contenders for this kind of application. Get the recipe.
Desserts and Sweets
In case you’re feeling pangs of guilt over the display of decadent indulgence that is this rich chocolate rum pudding cake, comfort yourself with the knowledge that it’s vegan. That’s gotta count for something, right? Get our Chocolate Rum Pudding Cake recipe.
Now, I’m more of a chocolate dessert person, but this timeless vanilla cake soaked in a combination of rum-laced sweetened condensed, coconut, and evaporated milks is hard to deny. It’s kind of like a piña colada in cake form. Get our Tres Leches Cake recipe.
For a more light, refreshing spin on a rum-based dessert, try this icy-cool pineapple rum sorbet. Which, when you think about it, is basically another way of having a frozen cocktail for dessert. Get our Pineapple Rum Sorbet recipe.
Basic banana bread gets the 21-and-up treatment in this recipe, which features aromatic cardamom to complement the spices in the (generous) splash of dark rum used to flavor the batter. Bet this would make a killer base for french toast, too. Get the recipe.
— Head photo: Chowhound.