What Is Overproof Rum? 6 Best Cocktails You Can Use It For

Overproof rum is probably one of the most underrated tipples out there. This is a type of rum that has a significantly higher alcohol content than the typical rum found on the market. While standard rums usually have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 40% (80 proof), overproof rums generally have an ABV of 50% or higher, with some varieties reaching as much as 75% or even 80% ABV. This higher alcohol content gives overproof rum its distinct characteristics and also makes it a sought-after variety.

The defining feature of overproof rum is its high alcohol content. It typically ranges from 50% to 80% ABV, which translates to 100 to 160 proof. This makes overproof rum much stronger than standard rum. Due to the higher alcohol content, overproof rum often has a more intense flavour. The high proof can highlight the natural flavours of the rum, including notes of molasses, caramel, and tropical fruits, but can also intensify the alcohol burn.

The aroma of overproof rum is more potent and pronounced. The high alcohol content can carry stronger scents, making the aroma more noticeable and intense. Overproof rum tends to have a fuller body and a more viscous mouthfeel. The high alcohol content can create a warming sensation that lingers on the palate.

Overproof rum is a popular choice for cocktails, especially those that require a strong rum flavour. It is commonly used in tiki cocktails like the Zombie or the Mai Tai, where its robust flavour can stand up to other strong ingredients. Due to its high alcohol content, overproof rum is often used in flambé dishes. The alcohol ignites easily and can creates a dramatic spectacle and adds a rich, caramelized flavour to the dish. If you’re planning to make cocktails with overproof rum, explore these options.


The Zombie is a quintessential tiki cocktail known for its potent mix of rums and complex flavours. Created in the 1930s by Donn Beach, this cocktail combines multiple types of rum, including overproof, along with tropical fruit juices and a touch of spice. Its robust and layered profile makes it a favourite among tiki enthusiasts, offering a strong, yet balanced drinking experience.

Mai Tai

A beloved classic in the tiki repertoire, the Mai Tai is a refreshing cocktail that benefits from the boldness of overproof rum. Originally crafted by Trader Vic in the 1940s, the Mai Tai's blend of rum, lime, orgeat, and orange liqueur creates a harmonious balance of sweet, tart, and nutty flavours. The addition of overproof rum enhances its depth and complexity, making each sip an adventure.

Planter's Punch

Planter's Punch is a traditional Caribbean cocktail that showcases the versatility of rum. This punch combines overproof rum with citrus juices, sugar, and a dash of bitters, resulting in a flavorful and invigorating drink. The high-proof rum adds an extra kick, making it a perfect choice for those who enjoy a strong yet balanced cocktail.


The Painkiller is a rich and creamy cocktail known for its tropical flavours. Combining overproof rum with pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut, this cocktail is typically garnished with a sprinkle of nutmeg. The use of overproof rum intensifies the tropical notes and adds a robust character, perfect for a relaxing beachside drink.

Navy Grog

The Navy Grog is another tiki favourite, famously served at Don the Beachcomber's and Trader Vic's establishments. This cocktail blends three types of rum, including overproof, with lime juice, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup. The overproof rum adds a strong backbone to the drink, complementing the citrus and honey for a refreshing yet potent cocktail.