Last Updated: June 29th
Rum is poised for one of the biggest comebacks in American history. The sugar cane fueled drink is as versatile as any vodka, as nuanced as any whiskey, and as tasty as any brandy. White Rum works as a straightforward (and alcohol-forward) base for a wide array of cocktails, while dark or “aged” rums also fit nicely with all the classic cocktails you know and love but are often best sipped neat or on the rocks. Lastly, spiced rums offer a flavorful, tropical kick that is wholly unique to rums.
To help you get into rum, we’ve cobbled together a list of the best cheap rum bottles on the US market (although we’ve purposefully not included the bottom of the bottom shelf — those plastic jugs of cleaning liquid that they slap a rum label on). This is legit rum that’s all under $20 a bottle.
WHALERS RUM ORIGINAL DARK
Okay, if you’re going to buy a bottle of bottom shelf rum, let it be Whalers. This is a pretty rough place to start when it comes to rum but it is by no way the worst cheap bottle on the market. Basically, what you’re getting here is a rum that has a slight sweetness and heavy alcohol taste.
Whalers works perfectly as a mixer with pretty much any soda or in a killer, fruity punch. And, sometimes, that’s good enough — especially when you’re paying a tenner a bottle.
Buy a bottle here for $11.29.
DON Q CRISTAL RUM
If you’ve ever been to Puerto Rico, you’ve drunk a lot of Don Q. This is the standard well rum of the island and, you know what, it isn’t half bad. The white, or “Cristal” version, is a clear rum that’s an excellent base for a nice highball with coke or lemonade and works as the perfect base for a kickass Caribbean cocktail like a pina colada.
Buy a bottle here for $11.49.
KIRKLAND SIGNATURE SPICED RUM
Costco’s booze tends to be a great baseline for cheap spirits that totally get the job done. Look, this isn’t the best of the best but it is 100 percent drinkable and the price just can’t be beaten.
The rum does have a bit of a burn — there’s no denying that — but if you’re mixing it into a punch or cocktail, you’ll be fine. This one is also pretty good with Dr. Pepper or a decent root beer. It has a nice spiciness that works with the old-school sodas. Give it try!
Buy a 1.75l bottle here for $19.69.
CRUZAN AGED DARK RUM
Cruzan is another rum that sits in many bar wells across El Carib. With good reason, this is another great rum that works wonders with heavy fruits and milky coconut creams.
Use the silver Cruzan as a base spirit since it’s largely neutral and then top your cocktail off with Cruzan Dark for a little extra sumpin’, sumpin’. You can thank us later.
Buy a 1.75l bottle here for $19.99.
DON Q ANEJO RUM
Don Q Anejo makes a helluva rum and coke. It’s got a slight aged oak sweetness that isn’t overpowered by the alcohol burn that you usually get from a cheap rum. That’s a win.
This one also works wonders as a topper for Caribbean cocktails. Throw a shot on pina colada, or any fruity rum slushie, and feel that warm Caribbean sunshine in every sip.
Buy a bottle here for $16.99.
Every rum journey should start here. Bacardi White, or Bacardi Carta Blanca, is the standard white rum that most others are judged by. It’s a simple spirit that carries hints of the molasses that birthed it, alongside a slightly stringent alcohol essence. It’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just more of a mixing spirit that a straight drinking one. This is your base for a lovely Cuba Libre or a splashy Mojito. It’s more neutral and therefore a perfect mixer.
Buy it here for $12.99.