Honourable mentions to Hula in Manchester, Rum Kitchen, Trader Vics, and Sugarcane in London, but here are my top rum bars in the UK – at the moment.
1. Mahiki, London A bar that’s as famous for its rum & tiki cocktails as it is for its clientele, which can vary from British royalty to Hollywood actors. The popular 8 person sharing punch ‘treasure chest’ is a blend of rum & tropical fruit juices topped off with Champagne. They currently stock over 200 rums
2. Trailer Happiness, London This west London basement bar is one of the founders of the tiki revival in London. It’s a bit kitsch, but is a haunt for ‘spirit professionals’ and rum lovers worldwide. It’s famous for its rum knowledge and rum collection – they currently stock over 200 and host a monthly rum club for their regular guests.
3. The Liars Club, Manchester A ‘dive bar’ in every sense of the word. Another bar with a Tiki theme, T.L.C is a must when you want your rum imagination to run wild. Their painkiller cocktail is legendary as much for the liquid as the way they serve it – with lots of fire and spice. If you want a quiet sip of one of their 100+ rums, you’re in the wrong place. This world class rum bar is about fun, rum and noise.
4. Mojo’s Bars (Leeds, Liverpool & Manchester) For years these guys have been the trendsetters in the north of England when it comes to rum appreciation. Inspired by the original Mojo’s in Barbados, these 3 bars are rum lover’s paradise. All three of them boast over 150 rums, and the Manchester branch even has a dedicated ‘rhum room’ for the connoisseur. Music is also a main theme for these great rum havens, as their moto is ‘music for the people’.
5. Merchant House, London Set within the winding lanes of the city of London’s Bow Street, they claim to have one of London’s most comprehensive premium rum collections, and I wouldn’t disagree. With a light nautical theme, this amazing bar is a drinking education for its customers by way of classic rum cocktails, rum masterclasses and rum tastings which are a regular feature throughout the week. Although the limelight on the back bar is shared by gin, it’s their rum collection which is the star of the show.
6. Rum & Sugar, London There’s no better setting for a rum bar than a historical warehouse at West India quay that built its name on rum, sugar and molasses. With an impressive selection of rum & cocktails, this bar in Canary Wharf educates the city slickers on the noble spirit.
7. Aloha, Liverpool Is one of the reasons to go out drinking in Liverpool, the other being how badly both of the city’s football teams are at the moment. This grotto is everything you want in a tiki bar: lots of tropical cocktails, large sharing drinks, cubby holes & booths for you and your friends, flaming garnishes and, of course, lots of rum.
8. Cane & Grain, Manchester If rum and ribs is your thing then Manchester’s newest rum destination is the place for you. Rum and food pairing is a popular way to promote the category, and this three storey Northern quarter bar does this in a rum-tastic way. The Liars Lounge on the top floor is home to some of Manchester’s best Tiki rum cocktails (and best nights out).
9. Tiki Bar & Kitsch Inn, Glasgow A true Tiki basement bar where escapism is high on the menu. A true Tiki/rum bar takes you on a tropical journey for the price of a cocktail, which this ‘Glas-Vegas’ bar truly does – the best time to delve into one of their amazing rum rhapsodies is in the winter, when the world upstairs is dark, cold and dreary.
10. Island Bar, Birmingham Literally an island bar in a sea of multi-national bars and restaurants in Birmingham’s city centre. England’s 2nd biggest city is not known for its quality bars, but if rum & tiki is your thing then Island bar is as good as any in the UK. With a specialised rum bar upstairs, you can sip on a Mai Tai or Zombie and forget that the local football teams will never win the premiership.
As Ian says, ‘rum is more than a spirit, it’s a lifestyle’, and to celebrate that, this weekend (17-18 October) sees the 9th annual Rum Fest hit London’s Earl’s Court. The event will give visitors the opportunity to taste 400 of the most diverse rums from across the world including established favourites Diplomatico, Bacardi, Havana Club, Lamb’s Navy Rum, The Duppy Share, Don Q, Botran and newcomers Gold Of Mauritius, Matugga Rum and Nine Leaves as well as the return of the Golden Tot initiative allowing visitors to taste the rarest and most exquisite blends on the market. Leading master blenders, ambassadors, mixologists and industry aficionados will be on hand to answer any burning questions, including Diplomatico master blender Chris Tito. For tickets and more information, visit Rumfest.co.uk
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