‘It’s Five O’clock Somewhere’ is a popular song title and statement that green lights imbibing an alcoholic beverage at any time of day. This is especially popular in the Caribbean where rum flows freely and every hour is a happy one. What makes the best mixed drink? Any of the Caribbean’s most famous cocktails. Here’s a sampling of ten to try …
1. Bahama Mama
Born in the namesake Bahamas during the days of U.S. Prohibition in the 1920s, the classic recipe has morphed over the decades. The original version calls for coffee liqueur, which adds a rich almost chocolaty flavor. In recent years, some bartenders add grenadine syrup for a red color. What hasn’t changed is the base of white rum, dark rum, coconut rum and pineapple juice.
2. Blue Curaçao
Blue like the Caribbean Sea, this sweet liqueur is made with candied oranges and bitter orange peel. That which is made by Senior & Co., in Curaçao is still made from the peel of the island-grown Laraha orange. While Blue Curaçao is the ingredient in many cocktails, try the Turks & Caicos. Invented by Curaçao bartender Fabian Cleopa, it’s a delicious shakerful of Blue Curaçao, white rum, egg white, coconut cream and lemon juice served with crushed ice and mint leaves.
Invented on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas and titled after a bar patron’s dog of the same name, this creamy frozen concoction’s key ingredients include coconut rum, Baileys Irish Cream, amaretto, Kahlua and vodka blended with ice and topped with whipped cream and nutmeg. Today, the bar at Paradise Point (St. Thomas) is home of the Bushwhacker.
This national liqueur of St. Maarten/St. Martin was born centuries ago in private homes for friends and family and is the stuff of old-time folk songs and stories. Made from blueberry-sized guavaberries that grow locally, other indispensable ingredients are aged rum and cane sugar. Guavaberry Coladas, Daiquiri and Margaritas are popular cocktails.
Native Taino Indians in the Dominican Republic first made this drink as a herbal tea. Alcohol, a mix of rum and red wine plus honey, was added post-Columbus. Now this beverage is sold bottled ready to drink. Its claim to fame is its medicinal value, especially as an aphrodisiac. Mamajuana is the ingredient that gives the alcoholic punch to the cocktail, the Dominican Mule, made with ginger beer and fresh lime juice.
White rum, club soda, lime juice and fresh mint leaves are the signature ingredients in this Cuban-native cocktail, which starred in the James Bond movie, Die Another Day. Some say this drink dates to the 1500s when an associate of Sir Francis Drake concocted it out of a crude form of rum called aguardiente. The Bacardi Rum Company and renowned writer Ernest Hemingway have also made this cocktail legendary.
Fill a shaker with ice and mix together four parts pineapple juice, one part cream of coconut and one part orange juice, with rum added to suit. Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg over top. This delicious drink was born out of an informal collaboration and competition between the former owner of the Soggy Dollar Bar on the British Virgin Island of Jost Van Dyke and founder of the Pusser’s Rum Company. Nearly every bar and restaurant in the BVI now serves this cocktail.
8. Piña Colada
The Caribe Hilton, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the birthplace of this now famous drink, made of rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, pineapple juice and crushed ice. Bartender Ramón ‘Monchito’ Marrero Pérez claims he created the Piña Colada back in 1954 after three months of experimentation. Marrero continued to serve his creation for 35 more years and was rewarded for his efforts in 1978 when this cocktail was named Puerto Rico’s national drink.
9. Planter’s Punch
The name dates to the sugar plantation era when plantation owners sipped rum drinks, while the first known recipe was published in the British Victorian-era magazine, Fun, back in 1878 and was called ‘Planter’s Punch. A West Indian Recipe’. Key elements in this Jamaican cocktail are rum and citrus juices, in a proportion best known by the rhyme: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.
10. Ti Punch
Ti means ‘small’ in patois, where this white rum, lime and cane syrup daiquiri-like drink is traditionally served before a meal as an aperitif in French Caribbean islands such as Guadeloupe and Martinique. Sometimes the beverage is pre-mixed, other times the bartender sets out the ingredients and lets diners mix their own to taste and intensity.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.