When you visit Aruba, you are destined to sip on a glass of rum, the famous distilled spirit synonymous with island culture. Locals, who would say a drink of rum is a rite of passage, are rightly proud of their favorite liquor. It’s easy to understand why rum — aromatic, sweet and steeped in a past filled with pirates and sugarcane plantations — is the favorite drink of island visitors, who then take it home after their days on the island have come to an end.
Scattered throughout the island, Aruba’s rum shops (also known as rum shacks) are where you’ll find locals discussing the day’s issues over a rum and coke or other mixed-drink variation. In these open-air bars, it’s always happy hour, a casual social gathering where anyone and everyone is invited. And why wouldn’t you want to partake in this rich tradition while mingling with those who know rum best? The Caribbean is, after all, its birthplace.
Where to Buy It
As its name suggests, the Essoville Rum Shop is a popular bar located in Essoville, San Nicolas, in the southern part of the island. Relax in the shade at the long bar as you enjoy your glass of rum. Also in San Nicolas is the Aruba Rum Shop, another local favorite that has become an historic icon. If you are headed to the Alto Vista Chapel on the north end of the island, be sure to stop at the Alto Vista Rum Shop along the way.
End your search for the island’s best rum at The Arubian Taste in Oranjestad. More of an actual shop than a bar, this is the intimate location of tastings and sales for the island’s top-selling rum producer, Palmera Quality Products. Sample its wide selection of rum, including its flagship silver variety and flavored offerings such as coconut and lemon rum.
When you’re ready to purchase your favorite bottle, have it safely packaged in bubble wrap for your journey home as a gift or souvenir for yourself. You’ll want to continue the Aruba experience when you leave the palm trees and sandy beaches behind, and a taste of this Caribbean rum is just the thing to make you feel like you’re on vacation once again.
Whether you’re a rum connoisseur or a novice sampler, let the cultural landmarks of Aruba’s rum shops tempt you with the authentic flavors of the island. But you won’t just get a taste of the drink. Long after your trip, you’ll remember the warm smiles, stories and laughter you shared with the people you clinked your glasses with.
Photo courtesy of vxla