Photo courtesy of iStock / Rimma_Bondarenko
Cheers to brightening your days
Whether you’re weathering the storm solo or with family, tropical cocktails are mood-improving pick-me-ups that are easy to stir, shake, mix and muddle at home.
Just because we can’t visit the Caribbean right now doesn’t mean we can’t welcome the islands into our homes. Belly up to your home bar, check out our recipe suggestions and raise a glass of liquid sunshine.
Photo courtesy of Colden King
Paradise Found | Sint Maarten
For the second consecutive year, Topper’s Rhum was voted Best Caribbean Rum Distillery in the 2020 USA TODAY 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. With a carousel of tropical flavors available at Total Wine & More in the U.S., crafting your own Paradise Found cocktail with the winning rum is the real deal.
1 oz. Topper’s Coconut Rhum
1 oz. Topper’s Banana Vanilla Cinnamon Rhum
2 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 oz. cranberry juice
Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice until blended. Pour over ice and garnish with fruit and a funky swizzle stick.
Photo courtesy of Melanie Reffes
Bomb Rush | Sint Maarten
Around the corner from the Princess Juliana International Airport, bartenders at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Sonesta Ocean Point are island-famous for their boozy Bomb Rush. With a quirky name, legions of fans, and a recipe so simple that even novice bartenders can make it, the happy hooch is a 'try it, you’ll like it' cocktail.
¼ oz. gold or amber rum
4 oz. pineapple juice
4 oz. ginger ale
Mix the rum and pineapple juice in a chilled glass. Top with ginger ale and pretty it up with a pair of maraschino cherries with the long stems.
Photo courtesy of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort
Kiwi Frizz | Aruba
Poured with pleasure at Elements, voted the Best Caribbean Restaurant, and at Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, voted Best Caribbean Resort, Kiwi Frizz packs a lot of oomph in a small glass. Yummy with fruit and fizzy with club soda, the mocktail version sans alcohol is ideal for the young ones.
1 kiwi peeled and sliced
1 oz. peeled pineapple chunks
1 ¼ oz. Zacapa 23 Rum
½ oz. agave nectar
1 oz. lime juice
Dash of club soda
6 ice cubes
Place the kiwi and pineapple in a glass and muddle using a muddler or the handle of a sturdy wooden spoon to press the fruit against the side of the glass. Add ice cubes and a shot of Zacapa 23 or rum of your choice, and pour the lime juice into the glass. Add the remaining ingredients. Try honey instead of agave nectar if you don't have any on hand. Stir, add a fruity decoration and serve.
Photo courtesy of John Gladman Photography
Painkiller | British Virgin Islands
Named for the thirsty travelers who swam to the beach with soggy dollars in their pockets, Soggy Dollar on the petite isle of Jost Van Dyke picked up top spot as Best Caribbean Beach Bar.
Traditionally made with the local rum called Pusser’s, the legendary Painkiller cocktail is a powerhouse palate-pleaser and is a cinch to make at home. Improvise with any dark rum and sweetened coconut cream you have on hand.
2 oz. Pusser’s Rum
1 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. Coco Lopez
2 oz. orange juice
Combine the ingredients; pour over ice in a tall glass. Top with grated nutmeg and sip.
Photo courtesy of Round Hill Hotel and Villas
Liz's Rum Punch | Jamaica
Liz’s Rum Punch was named for its creator Liz Pringle, the fashion model wife of John Pringle who opened Round Hill Hotel in 1953. The drink packs a potent double-rum punch and recalls a bygone era when pineapple groves dotted the bluffs. The fruity concoction is made peppery with a pinch of Scotch bonnet and is still the must-sip cocktail at the storied resort in Montego Bay.
0.75 oz. Appleton Rum
0.75 oz. Coruba Dark Rum
0.5 oz. lime juice
0.25 oz. clear syrup
1 oz. pineapple juice
0.25 oz. diced Scotch bonnet pepper
Combine both rums in a shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, clear syrup, pineapple juice and Scotch bonnet pepper. Shake, strain and pour over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with a pineapple slice. For alternatives at home, try a jalapeno pepper instead of a Scotch bonnet pepper and any rum you have in your home stash.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Jones
Light at the End of the Tunnel | Barbados
Created by bartender Kyle Jones at the Ocean Two Resort, the aptly named Light at the End of the Tunnel is a sweet treat guaranteed to take the edge off. For a breath of fresh air, herbs are the perfect garnish.
Ingredients (makes 2 drinks)
3 oz. spice syrup made from 2 oz. white sugar, 2 oz. water, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise or another spice with a licorice-like flavor, 2 cloves, ¼ orange and ¼ vanilla bean or a drop of vanilla extract
3 oz. mango puree
3 oz. white rum
2 squeezed lemons
2 drops Angostura bitters (optional)
Rosemary sprigs and basil leaves
Place the spice syrup ingredients in a small pot set on medium heat, bring to a boil for 3 minutes and allow to cool. Place 2 cups of ice in a cocktail shaker along with remaining ingredients (save the herbs for the garnish), shake and strain into tall glasses with crushed ice and decorate with a lemon slice, rosemary and basil.
Photo courtesy of Martin Davies for The Shore Club
Pisco Sour | Turks and Caicos Islands
A Pisco Sour, the signature cocktail at the Sui-Ren restaurant at The Shore Club in Providenciales, takes no more than 10 minutes to make from shaker to glass. Old school with a tropical twist, try white tequila as a stand-in for Pisco brandy and a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water should simple syrup not be on hand.
If you don't have Angostura bitters, skip that step and go for a cinnamon sprinkle instead.
2 oz. Pisco Peruvian brandy
1 oz. simple syrup
3/4 oz. lime juice
1 egg white
Dash of Angostura bitters
Combine the brandy, lime juice, simple syrup and egg white in a cocktail shaker or blender. Add ice, shake, strain into an old-fashioned glass, and sprinkle bitters on top of the foam. For a fluffy white crown, shake for at least 20 seconds.
Photo courtesy of Tina Thuell Photography
Fanny Nisbet's Mango Colada | Nevis
Built in 1778, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is the only beachfront plantation-turned-resort in the Caribbean. Named for islander Fanny Nisbet who married British Navy Captain Horatio Nelson in 1787 after he visited the plantation, Fanny Nisbet’s Mango Colada hits the sweet spot.
2 oz. mango rum
2 oz. mango vodka
2 oz. mango puree
1.5 oz. coconut cream
1.5 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
1.5 oz. pineapple juice
Blend the ingredients with ice. Pour in big glass and decorate with mango, orange slice and grated nutmeg. A cherry on top seals the deal.
Photo courtesy of Jade Mountain
Pineapple & Coconut Lime Spritz | Saint Lucia
On the only Caribbean island named for a woman, Pineapple & Coconut Lime Spritz is as refreshing as it is pretty. The drink is a staple at Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet on the southwest coast, and the tropical treat mirrors the flavors of a Pina Colada but with a lighter taste.
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 tablespoons pineapple chunks
2 oz. coconut water
4 oz. Prosecco
Combine pineapple, lime juice and coconut water in a shaker. Muddle together, add ice cubes, cover and give it a good shake. Double-strain into a chilled wine glass, top with Prosecco and garnish with pineapple leaves.
Photo courtesy of Caribe Hilton
Piña Colada | Puerto Rico
Born on the island, Piña Colada is Puerto Rico’s national drink and a happy hour mainstay throughout the Caribbean. Laying claim to its origin, Caribe Hilton in San Juan is where bartender Ramon "Monchito" Marrero created the rummy favorite nearly 70 years ago.
2 oz. rum
1 oz. coconut cream
1 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 cup crushed ice
Mix rum, cream of coconut, cream, and pineapple juice in a blender. Add ice and blend for 15 seconds. Serve in a 12-oz. glass and decorate with pineapple and a cherry.