Category Archives: Rum

Rum pairings : Zacapa XO

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Rums are highly aromatic spirits, with some kinds containing over a 640 different aromas. These aromas are derived from the sugar cane and the fermentation process where the rum is distilled from and the wooden barrels they age in.


Foodpairing® analyzed the Zacapa XO Rum This is a premium rum coming from the highlands of Quetzaltenango Guatemala, where it is distilled from virgin cane honey. Most rums use ‘molasses’, a by-product of the sugar making process, however Zacapa is different and uses only the concentrated first press of sugar cane, known as virgin cane honey.

Zacapa XO is aged at 2300 m above sea level, where it develops its complex flavour and character over time. Zacapa uses the solera process, with an extra ageing stage in French oak barrels which previously held cognac, to mature their rum.


The Foodpairing® Kitchen decided to create some nice desserts that perfectly match a good glass of Zacapa XO rum. Using the Foodpairing® inspiration tool, following interesting pairings popped up:

Zacapa XO – Beetroot – Dark Chocolate – Raspberry – Black Olive

The floral notes present in the Zacapa XO, derived from the sugar cane honey, pair well with the raspberry. The aromas from the wood, absorbed during the aging in the wooden barrels, form a link to chocolate and black olive.

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Foodpairing® Inspiration Tool: Zacapa XO Rum – Beetroot – Dark Chocolate – Raspberry – Black Olive

Zacapa XO Rum

Zacapa XO Rum- Beetroot – Chocolate – Raspberry – Black Olive : Find this recipe on  

Zacapa XO – Chocolate – Banana - Liquorice 

The aromas absorbed during the aging on wooden barrels provides links to chocolate, banana and warm spices like licorice. The aging of the Zacapa on high altitude provides more intense aromas. By cooking the banana on low temperature we can enhance the banana aromas.

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Foodpairing® Inspiration Tool: Zacapa XO – Chocolate – Banana – Liquorice

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Zacapa XO – Chocolate – Banana- Licorice: Find this recipe on 

Dessert Zacapa XO – Rice – Vanilla – Lemongrass – Cardamom – Blueberry – Coconut

The floral notes derived from the use of sugar cane honey provides aromatic links to blueberry, lemongrass and lemon. The aromas which develop during the aging on the wooden barrels form links to coconut and vanilla. 

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Foodpairing® Inspiration Tool: Zacapa XO – Rice – Vanilla – Lemongrass – Caradamom – Blueberry – Coconut

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Zacapa XO – Rice – Vanilla – Lemongrass – Cardamom – Blueberry – Coconut: Find this recipe on

Do you have a story to share, questions on this blog article or on foodpairing? Drop us a message on and we’ll get right back to you.

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Land of cotton; bourbon and peanut cherry lime

The land of cotton by Stuart White is a nice example of what Foodpairing can lead to. I don’t think Stuart White applied our Foodpairing to combine bourbon and peanut, but if you have a tiki mindsent the chance is very high you will end up with a combination based on Foodpairing. Rum and butter a surprise? No really if you use Foodpairing (and you will find it much more easier).

Not sure how Stuart came up with the combination, but this is how it could work;

Image you live in a place like Georgia where lots of peanuts are grown. Peanut are nut like … almonds. Why not replace the almonds from the orgeat by peanuts?

House-made Peanut Orgeat (by Stuart White):
500 grams skinless blanched Georgia peanuts
800 milliliters water
700 grams sugar
100 milliliters white whiskey
Ok, then you want to know which distilled drink to combine. If it is a tiki drink, you would probably go for rum, but as the list view show you, bourbon and peanut is a better match than rum (ranking indicated).
Peanut and whisky is not new; peanut butter infused whisky was done at tailor like Dave Arnold indicates in this nytimes article from 2010.
Top of the list was actually Cointreau. I would make sense to add Cointreau, but maybe that would have been an obvious variation on a mai tai. Fruity notes can also come from eg cherry. But it could also have been pineapple, coconut, mango, but ya…if you want to make a local cocktail that is maybe not an option, from the Foodpairing explorer indicates that blackcurrant, plum, cranberry, cherry also work.
which makes finally a whisky-peanut-cherry-lime combination.
You can find the complete recipe at starchefs (also source picture cocktail)
And more inspiration in the Foodpairing tree;


When I was ‘young’ the Smashing Pumpkins was one of my favorite bands, it appears now also to be one of the best cocktails in 2011 by Tasting Table.
Nobody would doubt the cinnamon-pumpkin combination, well the pumpkin-rum-allspice-bay leaf is based on a similar basis.
The Foodpairing tree of this Smashing Pumpkin by Mike Isabella: pumpkin-allspice-lemon-rum

12 ounces pumpkin purée
4 ounces fresh lemon juice
2 ounces water
1½ ounces dark rum
½ ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
Bay leaf, for garnish
1. In a soda charger combine the pumpkin puree, lemon juice and water and charge. Serve to order.
2. In a Collins glass add the ice. Add the rum, Dram and 3 ounces of the lemon-pumpkin soda and stir to combine. Garnish with the bay leaf. Serve.
(source: Tasting Table)


In Top Chef just desserts we saw some challenges passing by where Foodpairing would be an incredible help to support the participants. Last year I met Johnny Iuzzini (one of the judges) during my presentation at Starchefs (his Desserts Fourplay is a must have) and I was pleased he got interested by our Foodpairing.
As an example we took a parsnip-banana-hazelnut dessert from episode 6 of Top Chef.

Here are some of the possible pairings with hazelnut (clustered in categories, the closer to the center the better the match);

Or this coffee, strawberry, rum, pea combination. It should work, but this combination is quite challenging to find the right balance in taste. If you use young, fresh sweet peas it should work.

 Here the visualisation of this pairing;

There was even a chocolate pairing with French fries, reminds me of the first edition of our  The Flemish Primitives in 1999 where we gave people French Fries with mayonnaise (based on chocolate), next to all sorts of challenging items like glowing lollypops (picture by Khymos) or at the last edition ants by Alex Atala tasting like ginger, lemongrass (which was later also presented at Madfoodcamp)


While reading the website of Starchefs, I came across some Rum cocktails easy to explain by Foodpairing;
- Rum, apple, clove and lemon (Mixologist and Co-owner Johnny Santiago of Jo’s – New York, NY)

- Rum, bell pepper, limonade (Mixologist Eben Freeman of Tailor – New York, NY)

Looking to the Foodpairing tree of Havana Rum you see all these combinations popping up.

Also classical combinations with Havana Club 7 like the Golden Apple.