On a Run

Rum Runner

South Padre Island is a beach destination. Some say tropical, but no need to argue the accuracy. But we cannot deny that those who live and visit South Padre Island subscribe to the tropical lifestyle. And along with shorts and flip flops, that includes tropical drinks.

Along with the margarita, the piña colada and the daiquiri, one of the most “tropical” drinks is the Rum Runner. You’ll find it on many bar menus across the island and other beach locations in the U.S.

The rum runner was invented during the 1950s at a tiki bar called Holiday Isle, located in Islamorada – one of the Florida Keys. The story goes that the bar had too much left over rum and liqueurs that they needed to get rid of before their new inventory came in. So the bartenders created a drink to use them up. And the rum runner was born.

The name comes from the “occupation” of smugglers who brought rum (and other spirits) into the U.S. from the Caribbean islands during Prohibition. And of course, the recipe calls for lots of rum.  The recipe is slightly different depending on where you order it, but it almost always includes rum, banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur (the original recipe used blackberry brandy) and juices.

Here is a classic recipe:

1 oz light rum (I like Don Q)
1 oz dark or aged rum (Try a Flor de Caña 7 year old)
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz blackberry liqueur
1 oz banana liqueur
Splash of grenadine

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a hurricane glass (or other large glass) full of fresh ice. Garnish with fresh fruit.


Use the same ingredients, but add to a blender with ice and blend until smooth.
You can change the quantities of the juices for taste. You can also add an ounce or so of fresh lime juice to cut the sweetness. You can also use a spiced rum in place of the dark rum. And the option I always choose – float an ounce of 151 rum on top.