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The 5 Best Substitutes for Rum In Cocktails & Cooking

Have you ever been curious as to why rum is a popular ingredient in so many recipes?

Whether it’s used to enhance the flavor of desserts or imbue a unique taste in savory dishes, understanding how to cook with and replace rum can open up a world of tasty possibilities.

While there is no perfect substitute for the complexity of true rum, some alternatives provide similar sweet and aromatic results that make them nearly indistinguishable.

Let’s dive into the five best substitutes for rum and discover all the unique ways that it can be used.

What’s Rum?

Rum, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and honey, has been around for centuries and is widely enjoyed across the world.

Its origins trace back to the Caribbean, where it has been made since the 17th century.

Rum comes in different styles and can vary dramatically in flavor profile, from light, sweet drinks with banana and tropical fruit flavors to darker varieties tasting of almonds, oak, and a variety of spices.

When added to cocktails or cooking recipes, rum adds an extra layer of sweetness and complexity.

Classic cocktail recipes such as Daiquiri and Mojito would be fabulous with rum, while other drinks such as Pina Coladas also taste amazing when combined with this delightful spirit.

A splash of rum can also spice things up in desserts – consider adding dark spiced rum to cakes or pancakes for a truly indulgent treat.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Rum In Cocktails & Cooking

If you’re looking for an alternative to rum, there are plenty of options.

Whether you’re trying to cook or mix a cocktail without alcohol or simply want to switch things up and try something different, here are some great substitutions:

1 – Brandy

Brandy is a delicious alcoholic beverage that offers sweet and complex flavors.

It has a distinct aroma of fresh oak and natural fruits, with notes of wheat, dark cherry, and almond.

When enjoyed neat or on the rocks, the taste may be dry or fruity depending on its spirit classification.

To add tart notes to cocktails, brandy is an excellent alternative to rum—try it in a margarita for a smooth, vibrant sip.

In cooking, brandy can be used to enrich savory sauces and desserts for an extra depth of flavor.

Its heat-limited burn makes it ideal for creating gentle heat.

Next time you are looking for an ingredient capable of elevating your dishes, try reaching for the bottle of brandy.

2 – Bourbon

Bourbon is a type of whiskey made from corn that takes its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Its distinct flavor and aroma make it a favorite for many people proficient in the art of mixology at bars worldwide.

It has notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel, with a smooth and smoky finish.

While sometimes mistaken for rum due to its sweet taste, there are ways to use bourbon as a substitution during cocktail making and even cooking.

Many cocktails, such as Old Fashioned or Manhattan, use bourbon instead of rum due to its unique taste profile.

And with some creativity and experimentation, you can find ways to substitute bourbon for rum in dishes such as Jamaican Jerk Chicken or holiday fruitcake.

3 – Cognac

Cognac is a type of brandy distilled in the Cognac region of France.

It has an exquisite taste, described as complex and warm, with a hint of sweetness and a slight nuttiness.

A great way to use cognac is as a substitute for rum in cocktails, such as an Old Fashioned or even a Daiquiri, lending them unexpected coolness yet deep flavor.

What’s more, homemade dishes like pork roast from the oven can also benefit from being cooked with cognac; the subtle aroma added to it will give your dinner guests something really special to savor.

4 – Marsala

Marsala is an Italian fortified wine made from grapes grown in the Marsala area of Sicily.

It is full-bodied, with a slightly sweet taste of dried fruits that makes it ideal for cooking and even some cocktails.

Compared to rum, its slightly sweet nectar offers more complexity and depth to mix drinks like the classic Rum Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

In cooking, Marsala can be used to replace rum in many dishes, especially desserts like sticky toffee pudding and tiramisu – both of which will be enhanced when cooked with this tawny jewel from Sicily.

5 – Tequila

Tequila is the quintessence of Mexican culture and spirit.

With its spicy, earthy aroma and strong flavor, tequila is an alcohol that embodies the warmth and liveliness of Mexican culture.

Its flavor profile has notes of citrus and herbs, with a mineral-like aftertaste that follows each sip.

Tequila can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks but can also be used to substitute rum in cocktails, as well as a flavoring agent in cooking recipes.

When adding tequila to cocktails or meals, careful measurements are necessary because too much could overpower the drink or dish entirely.

However, when utilized correctly, its unique smoky taste will bring out the flavors of other ingredients for a truly delectable experience.


In conclusion, rum is a delicious and versatile spirit that can be used to create countless cocktails and meals.

However, sometimes it is not always available or desired in certain dishes.

Fortunately, there are many excellent substitutes for rum that can be used to achieve the same sweet flavors with unique twists.

Try out brandy, bourbon, cognac, Marsala, or tequila for a completely different yet delicious experience.

With some experimentation and creativity, you can find the perfect alternative to rum for your next recipe or cocktail.

Yield: 1 Serving

The 5 Best Substitutes for Rum In Cocktails & Cooking

The 5 Best Substitutes for Rum In Cocktails & Cooking
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Brandy
  • Bourbon
  • Cognac
  • Marsala
  • Tequila


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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