Recipe: The Rum Runner cocktail, Florida Keys

The Rum Runner is an iconic cocktail from the Florida Keys and Key West region in the US. It was purportedly invented by local legend, John Ebert, in Islamorada 40 years ago.

The story of its invention revolves around ‘The Holiday Isle Tiki bar’, which had an excess of rum and other liqueurs that needed to be used in order to make space for the arrival of new stock. Ebert was challenged to create a cocktail using the surplus supplies, so he mixed banana liqueur, rum, brandy and grenadine and so the ‘Rum Runner’ was born.

This cocktail was named after actual ‘Rum Runners’ that inhabited the Florida Keys in the early 1900s. Much like bootleggers during the prohibition era in the US, Rum Runners smuggled alcohol, but via the water. One of the most notorious rum runners was Captain Bill McCoy (from whom the expression ‘The Real McCoy’ derives). He famously smuggled rum from the Bahamas into South Florida and once the coastguard had learned of his nefarious methods he would simply meet boats about three miles offshore and transfer the rum there. This three mile limit was based on the U.S. jurisdiction over foreign waters and was soon called the “Rum Line”.

Today the cocktail is served throughout the Florida Keys and Key West.


1 oz Pineapple Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

1 oz Blackberry liqueur

1 oz Banana liqueur

1 oz Light rum

1 oz Dark rum

Splash of Grenadine

Garnish lemon/lime/cherry, plenty of ice


Simply combine and mix well and serve over ice.