From the nation's oldest rum created by the Beenleigh distillery to the modern day behemoth that is the Bundy bear, post-colonial Australians have always had a relationship with the pirate's drink of choice. Of course, we damn well rioted - and won - when a teetotalling governor tried to change this status quo. It was the settler's first form of currency after all!
Speaking of currency, here are eight Melbourne rum bars that are worth their weight in gold.
Rum Diary Bar
This place is surely Melbourne's mecca for rum aficionados. For their own rum, The Rum Diary sources spirit from Trinidad and Tobago and spices it in-house with a bunch of ingredients like clove, cinnamon, cardamom, and even Ancho chilli and Australian wattle seed. Plus they've just started Rum Club Australia, whereby hard to find rums are delivered regularly to your door via subscription (so you don't even need to put pants on to get your sugarcane fix anymore, though your delivery-person will surely appreciate it). Members also get a hefty discount on neat rums if they can bear to get out of their PJs and into the bar itself.
The Port of Call
Aside from a collective love of rum, Port of Call's venue manager Adam Cicolini says his team are inspired by "the history of the Caribbean, how it was essential to the spice trail and a mix of cultures like African, Dutch and French". These groups likely bonded over a flagon or two of rum. Adam suggests you bond with your mates over Don the Beachcomber's infamous 1934 Zombie recipe this summer.
At this self-described "rum brothel", the rum is safely secured behind bars before it is fashioned into some of the best mojitos in town. Modelled after a dubious Mexican hotel, Bar Economico has a secret: Hidden away within the same space is the intimate, upscale Bar Exuberante. This bar is also a twist on the Latin hotel theme, this time intentionally branded with the faded glamour of an establishment well past its halcyon days, but no less charming. Exuberante serves mind-bending hot/cold pina coladas and even provides a handy dandy chart to guide you to your perfect rum drink for the evening.
You wouldn't think you'd be likely to find rum fiends in a Chinese style bar. Yet Golden Monkey is home to the Melbourne chapter of the International Rum Club; a club which curiously doesn't seem to be very active anywhere else on the globe. You may as well give up all pretence of being thematic now and order a few rounds of their succulent Xiao Long Bao dumplings to go with Master Lee's Tea Pot Punch (two types of rum blended with tea and apricot liqueur to share).
When it's time to get our tiki on we simply can't go past The Luwow for its hallucinatory island interiors and tropical concoctions. Half-price, top-shelf rums are paired with rockabilly (and honky tonk and blues and rock 'n' roll) during their weekly Rum-ble in the Jungle sessions thanks to DJ Joey Elbows. Save your pennies up to drink all of the Mai Tais and float away to your personal atoll for a night.
Two dozen rums take equal pride of place alongside the Pisco offering at Latin American eatery Lady Carolina. The bar's manager Kenny D'Souza prefers to take his rum on the rocks or neat with a little water as you would whisky. He recommends Bacardi 8 for those new to sipping rum as it's "superior for the price. And it goes great in daiquiris." He means the proper kind of daiquiri by the way - not the nefarious frozen strawberry kind. Lady Carolina earns extra bonus points for offering up not one, but five guacamole styles to go with your next round of Cuba Libres.
For a drink with such a water-logged past, it's surprising that The Nelson is the only one of our rummy venues to take advantage of proximity to the seaside. And their popular Passion Tek cocktail (passionfruit, Licor 43, Plantation 3 star rum, Aperol, lemon) somehow tastes all the better for the addition of the salty breeze and palm-tree lined vistas. For something extra special here, ask for Plantation's 20th anniversary rum which we hear conjures up fantastical visions of coconuts.
Part bar, part restaurant, and all delicious, Richmond bar-restaurant Botherambo specialises in rum and serves some of the most mouth-watering cocktails, largely thanks to their house-infused spirits. The team are constantly getting creative with their sous vide kit, meaning you'll be sipping on rums flavoured with everything from banana to chargrilled pineapple - and if you're feeling peckish, the range of betel leaf bites including lobster, coconut chicken and jasmine tea smoked tofu make for the perfect cocktail pairing.
Trying to go alcohol-free after New Years? Check out Melbourne's Best Mocktails.
Image credit: Palmer & Co