Don Papa Rum Mixes Up Winter Cocktails In Sugarlandia

Don Papa Rum holiday cocktails, photo provided by Don Papa Rum
Don Papa Rum holiday cocktails, photo provided by Don Papa Rum /

Winter cocktails – Bring the fanciful flavors from Sugarlandia into your home to brighten your spirits! 

We are all spending more time at home these days and as the weather gets frosty we’ll soon be looking for a cure for our cabin fever. Winter cocktails made with Don Papa rum are a delightful way to spice up your cocktail repertoire and chase away those winter blahs. Don Papa is a premium aged, single-island rum from the Phillippines (one of the largest rum producers in the world). It is made in Negros Occidental, which locals refer to as “Sugarlandia”. Doesn’t that name sound fantastical?

With flavors of honey, vanilla and candied fruits, Don Papa rum is perfect for mixing winter cocktails. Aged for 7 years in oak barrels, it is smooth and delicate with a fragrant and fruity nose and a long textured finish. It can also be enjoyed neat as your curl up in front of the fire to enjoy a long winter’s eve.

Another reason to love rum in the winter? It can be combined with lots of our favorite herbs and spices to create magical winter cocktails  – cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts, maple syrup and rosemary.

NYC Mixologist Ben Rojo (Black Emperor, Angel’s Share) and fellow mixologist  Peter Ruppert (Short Stories, Lucien) created these winter cocktails carefully balanced with traditional winter flavors like mulled wine, eggnog and spiced syrup, with fresh, tropical ingredients, combined with Don Papa rum to create a cocktail winter wonderland.

Ben Rojo shares his thoughts on the growing popularity of rum cocktails and the effect the pandemic has had on cocktails:

“I’ve seen rum cocktails grow in popularity considerably over the past few years.  There’s definitely a synergy between the growing interest in the category and the increasing variety of rums being imported and produced domestically.  More people are growing wise to the variety within the world of rum, and from that comes a natural curiosity about how they shine in cocktails.

With so many fanciful rums on the market today, why is Don Papa particularly appealing?

I love Don Papa because it’s so unique, and so transportive.  Every time I uncork a bottle, the nose of ripe fruit and fresh cane brings me back to the sun and surf of the Philippines.  It has great body, and the tannic structure lends it some tautness.  I find that the interplay of vanilla, citrus notes, and molasses on the palate keeps me engaged, whether I’m sipping it neat or in a mixed drink.  Even among a category as idiosyncratic as rum, in my eyes Don Papa is particularly distinctive.

The pandemic has certainly changed a lot of our routines these days and that’s also true of how we approach cocktails:

The pandemic has had a number of fascinating effects on cocktail trends.  For one, I think after a few months of fixing drinks at home, many people have developed a rather pragmatic preference for drinks that are a bit stiffer.  I think that convenience and perishability have (thankfully) pushed the needle away from the absolute ubiquity of fresh citrus sours across menus.  In an accelerated adaptation of pre-pandemic consumer preference, I see menus becoming more terse and more deliberate across the board, using fewer ingredients in every cocktail, focusing on recipes that are more prep- and process-driven.  Amid these unprecedented circumstances, I think that cocktails are the most pensive and austere they’ve been in a long time.”

Don Papa Rum
Don Papa Rum holiday cocktails, photo provided by Don Papa Rum /

Recipes compliments of Don Papa Rum

The Don’s Midwinter Dream

Warming and deliciously old fashioned. For a languid night spent by a well-tended fire. Don’t forget the cherries.

In a mixing glass, add 50ml Don Papa Rum, 20ml Berry Grenadine, 1 Dash Ginger bitters, stirred
Strain into chilled rocks glass with one large cube
Warm 5-10ml of Overproof Rum, light on fire, and gently pour over the cocktail
Garnish with skewered Maraschino Cherries (Served cold)


A twist on a classic, reimagined by the Don. Nutmeg falls like snowflakes onto frothy eggnog. Curiously sweet, unexpectedly magical.

Combine 45ml Don Papa 7, 5ml Overproof Rum, 20ml Brown Simple Syrup, 15ml Cream, and 135ml of Nut mixture and freeze
Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving
Shake to “wake up” the cocktail, pour eggnog mix into milk jar
Garnish with grated nutmeg and striped paper straw. (Served cold / frozen)

The brown sugar syrup is made by bringing 1 cup of water to a simmer, removing from heat, and then stirring in 1 cup of brown sugar. The nut mixture is 2 cups of cashew milk, 1 cup of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and a half teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and vanilla extract then shaken to combine.

Negrense Tropics

The Don’s Daiquiri for Winter. Tropical, fresh and festive. Here, even the orchids bloom. 

In a shaker add 50ml Don Papa 7, 25ml Lime Juice, 20ml Spiced Sugar Syrup
Add ice, shake hard
Double strain into chilled cocktail coupe
Garnish with a mini candy cane, and orchid flower

The spiced sugar syrup is made by bringing 1 cup of water to a simmer with 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise pod, and 5 cloves, removing from heat, and then stirring in one cup of sugar.

Mulling over Sugarlandia 

The glowing heart of Sugarlandia in Winter. Spiced, tart and resplendently red. Warmed by a blanket of torched cinnamon. 

In a shaker add 30ml Don Papa 7, 20ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Brown Sugar Syrup, 20ml Mulled Wine and 20ml egg white, dry shake
Add ice and shake hard
Double strain into chilled fizz or fizzio glass
Torch cinnamon dusting for garnish, along with a rosemary sprig

Related Story. Creative eggnog ideas to transform the tastiest holiday beverage. light

How will you be keeping your spirits bright this winter? Will the spirit of Sugarlandia tempt you to create fantastical winter cocktails?