This unexpected ingredient will change your rum cocktails forever

Rum is one type of spirit that was seemingly made for cocktails. Well, you can certainly drink it straight if that's your thing, but its slightly sweet flavor makes it the perfect base for all manner of mixed drinks ranging from the basic rum and Coke to the minty mojito to the most complex and mysterious of tiki drinks.

Rum's no prima donna, though, since it also plays nicely with other types of booze. It mixes with triple sec in the Beachcomber, blue curacao in the Blue Hawaiian (via The Spruce Eats), orange curaçao and dry vermouth in the El Presidente, and in the Long Island iced tea (via Taste of Home). It also mixes with just about everything else in the bar. One unexpected pairing, however, might be the mixture of rum and sherry. There is actually one classic tiki drink, the Fog Cutter, that does combine these two types of booze along with gin, brandy, fruit juices, and flavoring syrups. Drinks where both rum and sherry notes are to the forefront, however, are few and far between. But according to Lynnette Marrero, bartender and mixologist with Zacapa Rum, this situation really needs to change. In fact, Zacapa's distillery is so devoted to the idea that rum plus sherry equals a perfect match that their Zacapa 23 rum is aged in not one, but two different sherry barrels (oloroso and PX).

How to add sherry to your rum drinks

Marrero mentions several varieties of sherry that go very well with rum. Oloroso is a sherry that she describes as having "a predominantly nutty aroma ... with toasted, vegetable and balsamic/wine notes [and] noticeable savory notes like truffles," while Amontillado offers "a more subtle, delicate bouquet of aromas of hazelnut and plants ... reminiscent of aromatic herbs and dark earthy aromas" (not to mention a certain Edgar Allan Poe story).

She says that both types of sherry can be used in the same way you'd use another fortified wine - vermouth – and will give your stirred rum cocktails a "manhattan riff." Sherry can also be "shak[en] ... into a cocktail with some fresh ginger and lime juice and for an elevated sour."

One recipe Marrero provided was a rum mule that she says "can bring acidity to the cocktail in a different way." It calls for two ounces of rum, one ounce of Amontillado, half an ounce of lime juice, and two ounces of ginger beer. She also suggested a daiquiri made with a fino or manzanilla sherry, saying that less lime juice is necessary, but the resulting drink will have "a more complex flavor." To make this daiquiri, you mix two ounces of rum with half an ounce each of sherry and lime juice and 1/4 ounce of simple syrup. However you choose to mix sherry into your rum cocktails, Marrero says the combination is bound to be "a huge win."