The rum barrel cocktail is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and beloved tiki cocktails in the world today. Its history can be traced back to the romanticized idea of a Caribbean pirate’s barrel filled with exotic mixtures of rums and spices (although a debunked myth). The drink gained popularity in the 1940s and 1950s, thanks to the Tiki Bar craze that swept across the United States.
The drink, as its name suggests, is served in a barrel-shaped mug and is made with a blend of different rums, fruit juices, and spices. The drink is sometimes topped with a flaming lime shell, making it an irresistible sight for any cocktail lover.
One of the significant figures credited with the popularity of the rum barrel cocktail is Donn Beach, the founder of Don the Beachcomber Tiki bar. He was known for his love of rum-based cocktails and is often referred to as the “father of Tiki” due to his contribution to the Tiki culture. At the Beachcomber Tiki bar and other bars of the time, the rum barrel cocktail was a staple drink that met the demands of the growing Tiki culture.
The drink’s continued popularity can be attributed to its delicious and complex taste, coupled with the theatrics of the flaming lime shell. The rum barrel cocktail’s popularity also extends to many Tiki bars and tropical-themed restaurants today, and it remains a hallmark of the Tiki culture.
The rum barrel cocktail’s significance to Tiki history cannot be overemphasized. It is one of the signature cocktails that made the Tiki culture so popular in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. Today, the Tiki culture and its cocktails remain a popular staple in the cocktail scene, with the rum barrel representing the pinnacle of Tiki cocktails. Whether you are sipping a rum barrel at UnderTow or making one at home, it is a drink that transports you to a tropical paradise and embodies the spirit of Tiki culture. In fact, it’s probably one of the most widely produced signature mugs for today’s tropical and Tiki cocktail bars. Examples of various rum barrel mugs span across most concepts, including Hidden Harbor, Three Dots & A Dash, Tonga Hut, Smuggler’s Cove, Trader Vic’s, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, and more. It’s so popular that even liquor brands have created a custom rum barrel mug! What’s your favorite rum barrel mug you have?
Most recently, we partnered with local artist, Odd Rodney, to create a classic version of the Rum Barrel, including our very Tipsy Octopus. This iconic mug, created by a local Arizona artist, will be released next week at Tiki Oasis AZ at Odd Rodney’s Marketplace Vendor Booth on Saturday, April 29th at 10 AM. Be sure to find him to secure your mug as an extremely limited run of 75 were made! For more information follow us on Instagram @drinkundertow and subscribe to our monthly newsletter here. Follow Odd Rodney on Instagram at @oddrodney for details of his other mug designs and releases.
Want UnderTow’s Rum Barrel Recipe?
Featured on our Chapter 6 menu, this was a popular cocktail on our classics list.
Origin Don the Beachcomber
Glassware Snifter or Rum Barrel Mug
5 dashes of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 dash of Tiki Bitters (we make our own blend)
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
0.75 oz 2:1 Honey Syrup
0.75 oz Royal Standard Rum
0.75 oz Bacardi Gold Rum
2.00 oz Hamilton Demerara Rum
0.25 oz John D. Taylor Falernum
Technique Flash Blend with 2 cups of crushed ice and all ingredients. Dump into the glass, and top with crushed ice.
Garnish Pineapple Wedge, Fresh Mint Sprigs, Cherry, & Umbrella