Why Rum Should Make An Appearance In Your Next Martini Variation

An old-school dry martini, startlingly strong and bracingly cold, is a wonderful thing. Traditionally made with gin and vermouth, garnished simply with an olive, and served in an instantly-recognizable V-shaped cocktail glass, the martini is one of the most influential cocktails of all time and has undergone all sorts of transformations and revamps over the years. You can order it dry, wet, or "perfect," depending on the type and quantity of vermouth; you can try it "dirty" with a splash of olive brine; or served with a twist of lemon peel.

More unique variations include the vodka martini, popularized in the 1950s, and the espresso martini of the 1980s. Now, all manner of martini-style drinks have the 'tini' suffix, from the appletini to the saketini. But what if you've never been much of a fan because you prefer warm spirits like rum to gin or vodka? That's more than enough reason to try a variety of rum-based martini-style cocktails that could tick all the right boxes for you.

A martini with rum might not be a martini in the traditional sense, but the original martini recipe is much-debated anyway, and new variations are popping up all the time. A rum martini can have roughly the same ingredient ratios as a classic one and can be served in the same-shaped glass, so you can enjoy a drink with warm, sweet notes that still feels as simple and swanky as martini.

Switch in rum for a classic or espresso martini with a twist

The easiest way to incorporate rum into a martini is to simply switch the usual gin (or vodka) for a light rum. Mixing three parts rum with one part dry vermouth and a couple of dashes of orange bitters creates a clean, fragrant, and elegant-tasting rum martini.

If you like your drinks even richer, play with other martini variations. An espresso martini, which is also removed from what we traditionally think of as a martini, is usually made with vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso, with perhaps a touch of simple syrup. Giada De Laurentiis' espresso martini is served affogato-style with gelato, while other interpretations across the drink's colorful 40-year history have included bourbon or other spirits such as cognac or mezcal. So why not try a rum version for a delicious twist?

To mix an easy rum espresso martini, just shake equal amounts of dark rum, coffee liqueur, espresso, and simple syrup over ice and strain it into a glass. Or, take it to the next level by using chocolate rum and garnishing with dark chocolate shavings for a fun pick-me-up that's dark, strong, sweet, and complex. If an espresso martini makes everything better, just think of how delicious it is to sip on a mocha-inspired variation.

More rum-based martini-style cocktails to try

If you're looking to get really creative with martini-style rum concoctions, ideas can vary from the simple to the elaborate, and from light and fruity to rich and creamy. Most recipes also pack an alcoholic punch to kick off a festive evening.

Try mixing equal amounts of light rum and sweet vermouth for a Jean Harlow, garnished with zingy lemon peel — this drink was allegedly a favorite of the vintage Hollywood actress it's named after. You can also make a tropical coconut martini with vanilla vodka, coconut rum, and cream of coconut, perhaps with a little pineapple juice for balance. Or go colorful with a Red Rum martini, named after the famous Grand National-winning horse, and made with muddled red currants topped with rum, sloe gin, vanilla syrup, and lemon juice.

A retro summery favorite is the bikini martini, made with coconut rum, bitters, pineapple juice, vodka, and grenadine. Or go for a full-on dessert cocktail with a pecan pie-themed rum-based martini, made with Rumchata (a liqueur combining Caribbean rum, Mexican spice, and Wisconsin cream), creme de cacao, and bourbon, garnished with caramel and pecans. If the classic martini is a springboard for inspiration, then so too are its rum-based spin-offs. Let's celebrate the rumtini, and all its sweet, spicy, splendid incarnations.