Zero-Proof Spiced Rum Alternative
August 3, 2021
Celebrate the ritual of enjoying a classic cocktail, but without the alcohol, when you make this zero-proof spiced rum alternative. It’s the perfect swap in any of your favorite dark rum drinks when you are looking for something a little lighter but still full of flavor.
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I never feel more like I’m doing witchcraft than when I’m mixing up a fun concoction like this spiced rum alternative. A pinch of this, a dash of that, fire brew and cauldron bubble. But there’s no eye of newt here, and no alcohol either. Instead, I combined molasses with a variety of spices and seasonings to replicate the flavor and bite.
Does it taste exactly like spiced rum? No, of course not. There’s no alcohol and it’s not distilled. It will never taste exactly like a bottle of Bacardi. But that’s okay. It works well to take the place of a shot in a rum and coke or other cocktail. Plus, the little spice of heat helps mimic that slight burn you’d get from true liquor.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this zero-proof spiced rum alternative at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Molasses, Vanilla extract, Liquid smoke
- Spice Rack: Star anise, Cinnamon stick, Whole cloves, Allspice berries, Black peppercorns, Crushed red pepper flakes, Cayenne
- From the Bar: Cardamom bitters, Orange bitters
- Equipment: Saucepan, Mesh strainer
How to Make Zero-Proof Rum
What you are basically doing here is infusing a very light molasses syrup with some spices, and then adding a bit more flavor at the end to round it all out. All of the ingredients used here are meant to represent flavors that you’d actually find in a spiced rum.
Starting by combining the water and molasses together in a medium saucepan. I decided to use molasses as the main sweetener here because it is made from sugar cane, similar to rum. This gives the mixture a nice base flavor and a lovely caramelly color.
Heat these together over medium high, stirring occasionally to combine them together until it’s boiling. At this point, add in the spices: star anise, cinnamon stick, allspice berries, whole cloves, and peppercorns.
You can add them directly and strain later, or you can place them in the nut milk bag for easy removal later. The nut milk bag is also helpful if you need to substitute any of the whole spices for ground versions instead.
Allow the pot to continue boiling for a few minutes, and then turn off the heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, which will add just a little bit of spice on the finish, somewhat mimicking the burn from alcohol, but without being overwhelming.
Cover the pan loosely, and set it aside to infuse for at least an hour. After it has infused for a little bit, give it a taste to see if you like the level of spice. An hour will be fairly mild, but you can always continue infusing this mixture for up to a day if you’d like more spice flavor.
However, keep in mind that one star anise can go a long way. Even if you are infusing longer, I suggest removing that after an hour or so.
Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar. If you are using a nut milk bag instead, remove it, and squeeze out any excess liquid. Stir in the vanilla extract and both bitters. If you’d like, you can also add just a little bit of liquid smoke and cayenne pepper.
The former will add a little bit of smoky flavor. This is nice if you like a barrel-aged liquor, since those tend to pick up a bit of smokiness. The cayenne adds an extra level of heat, this time on your lips at the beginning of a sip. Both of these add to the experience but are totally optional depending on your taste.
Unlike actual rum, which I normally keep at room temperature on the bar, this non-alcoholic version is better stored in the fridge. If it’s already in a jar, seal it and store for up to two weeks. You can use it cold or you can warm it up to use in cozier drinks.
For a lighter version of a rum & coke, try mixing up this zero-proof alternative to spiced rum! It’s full of your favorite spicy flavors but without the alcohol.
How to Serve a Non Alcoholic Rum Alternative
Use this fun and spicy drink one-to-one in any cocktail recipe that calls for spiced rum. It would be lovely when used to make a cinnamon, pear, and rum cocktail, which would highlight all of the spice and flavor. Or warm up with a non-alcoholic version of a pecan pie hot buttered rum.
The easiest way to try this zero-proof “liquor” is by mixing about an ounce or so into an ice cold glass of cola for the classic Rum & Coke. You can also use ginger ale and make a dark & stormy instead, one of my favorites.
You can also use this instead of rum in recipes that are baked, but it won’t work for something like bananas foster, which needs the actual alcohol. Try it in the butter rum sauce atop a no-bake molasses cheesecake, or baked into banana rum muffins.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Anise, cloves, and allspice are the perfect combo for the chai-poached plums that top a honey pavlova.
- Or feature cloves, allspice, and vanilla in a sweet and rich cold brew coffee with vanilla spice cream.
- Just a dash of liquid smoke adds so much to carrot “bacon” wrapped water chestnuts.
- I love the flavor orange bitters adds to a chocolate old fashioned.
- Cardamom bitters lends its unique taste to a bourbon ginger algonquin cocktail.
Zero-Proof Spiced Rum Alternative
- 20 oz Water
- ¼ Cup Molasses
- 1 Star Anise
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 10-15 Whole Black Peppercorns
- 8-10 Allspice Berries
- 8-10 Cloves
- pinch Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- ¼ tsp Vanilla extract
- 3-4 dashes Orange Bitters
- 1-2 fashes Cardamom Bitters Bokeh's style
- 1-2 drops Liquid Smoke optional
- pinch Cayenne optional
- In a medium saucepan, combined the water and molasses. Heat over medium high, stirring to combine until boiling.
- Add in the anise, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns. Continue boiling for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, cover the pan loosely, and set it aside to infuse for at least an hour.
- After infusing, taste to see if you like the level of spice. You can continue infusing for up to a day if you'd like more spice flavor.
- Pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar. Add in the vanilla, bitters, and liquid smoke and cayenne if desired. Stir to combine.
- Store this non-alcoholic rum alternative in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Leave out the liquid smoke if you prefer no smoky flavor or aroma, or the cayenne to eliminate a little bit of upfront bite.