The sprawling Caribbean islands are known for many things, but they might be best known for their exceptional taste in cocktails. Caribbean cocktails tend to be sweet, combining island liquors with fruits, juices, syrups, and spices to create drinks that are out of this world. And while there are countless options to choose from, we believe that these six Caribbean cocktails stand head and shoulders above the rest.
You’ve probably heard of the piña colada, but what about it’s relative the chi chi? This shares many of the same ingredients as your typical Pina Colada — cream of coconut, pineapple juice, crushed ice — but replaces the rum with vodka. Ditching the syrupy, dark rum takes the edge off the drink’s sweetness, creating a combination that’s a little more palatable to those who think the original piña colada is too sugary. This one’s a cinch to make; give it a try for yourself!
One of Cuba’s most famous cocktails, the mojito has seen many variations over its hundreds of years of history. The modern mojito is a fresh cocktail consisting of white rum, lime juice, soda water, sugar, and a sprig of mint. Try it and you’ll find that the sweet and sour coalesce perfectly in the glass to complement the flavor of the rum. This feature alone has made the mojito a perennial favorite of beach-goers, though more experienced cocktail aficionados like to jazz it up with even more exotic flavors like grapefruit, blueberry, coconut, or strawberry.
Coming to us from Nipper’s Beach Bar and Grill in the Bahamas, Nipper Juice is one of the most well-known cocktails in the region. The drink blends rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, and a splash of Nassau Royal liquor to tangy perfection. It’s the cranberry juice that really sets off the flavors of this drink, so definitely give this one a shot if you’re a fan of the sour.
And if you’re making this at home, remember to strain it before serving! This cocktail has plenty of fruit juice, so you’ll want to make sure you remove any pulp and leftover ice shards. Strain it into a clear glass over fresh ice after mixing.
For the most authentic island flavor to come out of a glass, we recommend the Aruba Ariba. This cocktail is made from a wide range of fruity ingredients and liquors, usually containing white rum, vodka, banana liqueur, fruit punch/fruit juice, and the rare liquor Coecoei.
That last ingredient is key. Coecoei is a unique blend made from rum, sugar, and the sap of the agave plant. It’s a tasty combination, but don’t expect to see it in the States any time soon. Aruba doesn’t export Coecoei to the U.S., so unless you’re on the island itself, you’ll have to make do with a substitute. Try passionfruit or grapefruit and see what you prefer.
The painkiller is a Caribbean classic. This cocktail blends rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and orange juice, bringing together a delectable assortment of sweet flavors in perfect harmony.
This cocktail hails from the British Virgin Islands and its world-famous Soggy Dollar Bar (named for the way the bar’s guests pay for their post-swim drinks with soggy bills). The mixologists here occasionally mix up the recipe with flavored rums and prefer to garnish the cocktail with freshly-grated nutmeg. But however you prefer it, the painkiller is one Caribbean cocktail that’ll leave you feeling great.
We all know the “regular” Mudslide—a frothy blend of vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s, and ice cream—but really, who wants to eat ice cream on the beach? For something a little lighter, we’d recommend a variation on this classic: The Cayman mudslide.
This cocktail is the same as a normal Mudslide but substitutes crushed ice for the ice cream. This turns the Mudslide’s milkshake-like consistency into an airy, smooth cocktail that drinks great on a sandy beach. Garnish with a little cinnamon and a cherry and you’ll be good to go!
What’s Your Favorite Caribbean Cocktail?
The best thing about Caribbean cocktails, aside from their taste, is how easy they are to make. Most of the ingredients can be found right here at home (Coecoei notwithstanding), and with the help of a blender, you’ll be able to make any of these on your own. Find yourself a recipe and give one a try!