Right now, with most of us confined to our homes for the past couple weeks—and with even longer weeks of anxiety and the same routine ahead of us—it’s safe to say we could all use a tropical vacation. (Mentally, at the very least.) Luckily, we’ve come up with a solution to bring the tropics right to your doorstep—literally. (Via Amazon Prime and GrubHub, of course—not to mention your trusty local liquor store.) Both a self-quarantine and a vacation are a complete break from regular life—so why not pretend we’re in Barbados instead?
Though the very nature of social distancing prevents would-be travelers from jetting down to St. Bart’s, we’d like to remind you that travel is a state of mind. And that state, dear friends, is profoundly relaxed. Why? Because, on vacation, suddenly, there are no rules. If you want to have a margarita at 10 am, go right ahead. Or, if you’d prefer to nap all day and spend all night haphazardly playing steel drums with fellow artists (formerly strangers)—go ahead. Live your truth. This surreal suspension of social norms is what a weekend in the Bahamas and one spent social distancing at home have in common—that and rum, of course (more on that later.)
Jimmy Buffett famously observed that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere—and, in today’s climate, we’d argue it’s always 5 o’clock, everywhere.
Time is such a construct at this point that it’s a cliché for people on Instagram to post reminders of what day it is. No one knows what day it is—and no one cares. Jimmy Buffett may have famously declared that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, but—given the current state of existence—we’re ready to counter that now it’s always 5 o’clock, everywhere. And so what better moment than the present to capitalize on this new reality? If we can’t go out on vacation, we will bring the vacation home to us. (Via happy hour, of course.)
To that end, we’ve identified ten tropical cocktails to recreate at home: The flavors carry memories of that refreshing Caribbean air, while their ingredients are sufficiently simple enough to order it all online. So, to the landlocked masses stuck indoors: Whether you’re a lover of Saint Lucia or Antigua, Curacao, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, we’ve got you covered. So, read on, and the next time you order supplies from your local liquor store, keep these recipes in mind.
Saint Lucia: St. Lucian Rum Punch
Our first selection is one of the iconic cocktails created on the heartbreakingly beautiful island of Saint Lucia—which also has the distinction of being the only female country in the world. (It’s the only nation named after a woman on the planet.) And we are not exaggerating when we refer to it as heartbreakingly beautiful: It’s impossible to over-hype the golden hour in Soufriere, when the sun sets between the Pitons, casting a fiery gold light upon the water until it sinks beneath the Caribbean Sea. So it’s therefore fitting that a telling difference between a regular rum punch and a Saint Lucian rum punch is that the latter has a more fiery and intense tropical coloring. Keep adding grenadine until the beverage turns the color of a tropical sunset—and imagine you’re enjoying one in person when you take your first sip. (Oh, and try to spring for Chairman’s Reserve Rum, if possible—it’s locally produced and a favorite on the island.) In general, try to order the local rum when possible—though we do recognize that these are trying times. So, in a bind, any rum will do.
- 3 cups orange juice, 3 cups pineapple juice
- 1 cup lime juice, grenadine syrup
- pinch of cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg
- 6 shakes angostura bitters
- 2 1/2 cups dark or light rum
- 1 1/4 cups simple syrup
Mix ingredients in pitcher and add grenadine until the beverage turns the color of a Caribbean sunset. Refrigerate for minimum a few hours (max. overnight) and then serve over ice. Garnish: Pineapple, orange. (Serves 10 – 12.)
(Recipe Source: One Lucian News)
Curaçao: Blue Lagoon
Up next on our list is a cocktail from the Netherland Antilles, originating on the charming island of Curacao, where, quite famously, “Everything is Dushi.” The word Dushi originates from the local Papiamento language spoken on Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire (otherwise known as the ABC Islands), and it translates into: Everything is sweet, delicious, lovely, so very fine. And you won’t have any difficultly believing that life is sweet when you arrive on the turquoise blue shores of Curacao—though, depending on your sweet-tooth, you might not have the same reaction to the turquoise blue liqueur for which the island is famous. We say: Don’t knock it until you try it. And the Blue Lagoon is quite refreshing with its mixture of lemonade, vodka, and that famously fluorescent drink. Go ahead and take a chance on a new flavor—you might be surprised by how much you like it. Cheers, Dushi!
- 1 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Blue curaçao
- 4 oz Lemonade
- Orange wheel
- Lemon wheel (Optional)
- Maraschino cherry
Add all the ingredients save for the fruit (vodka, Blue Curacao, and lemonade) into a shaker, add ice and shake. Afterward, strain the liquid into a hurricane glass over crushed ice for your drinking pleasure. Finally, garnish with an orange wheel or a lemon wheel and a Maraschino cherry (on top of your well-earned treat.) Cheers!
(Recipe Source: Liquor.com)
Grenada: Calabash Cocktail
Up next is the “Spice Island” of Grenada, a gorgeous hideaway that’s one of the best-kept secrets in the entire Caribbean. Another well-kept secret? The deliciousness of its rum cocktails—the home-grown distillery, River Antoine, sells out its supply so fast to the locals it’s not able to export its product. (Though not every variation of its wares would be allowed on a plane—some bottles are 150-proof.) Though we, of course, suggest using River Antoine for your Calabash Rum Cocktail, we do understand it’s a near-impossibility. You will have to wait until the next time you’re in Grenada (physically, that is), which should be sooner rather than later—one stay at Mount Cinnamon Resort will convince you of the island’s magic.
- White rum
- Grenadian nutmeg syrup
- Lime juice—freshly-squeezed
- Spoonful of caster sugar
- Blue Curacao
- Grated nutmeg
Mix the white rum with the Grenadian nutmeg syrup together with the fresh-squeezed lime juice. Add a spoonful of caster sugar and a bit of Blue Curacao for color. Top it all off with nutmeg and voila—your very own Calabash Cocktail!
(Recipe source: Club Caribbee)
The Bahamas: Bahama Mama
Up next, we are headed to The Bahamas to try out the world-famous Bahama Mama. (Though all the cocktails in the Bahamas are fantastic—we recommend you try a Bahama Papa at your own risk.) When preparing your cocktail, keep blending the concoction until it is nice and slushy—or, actually, to whatever consistency is to your satisfaction. (Mixology is an art-form, after all, there are no winners and losers here—just people enjoying sub-par cocktails.) So sit back, relax, and savor that frozen concoction that helps you hang on. Just try not to lose that shaker of salt—it’s too much of a hassle to go to the grocery store at the moment. (And apologies for the multiple Jimmy Buffett references but he is utterly relevant to this story.)
- 1/2 fluid ounce rum
- 1/2 fluid ounce coconut-flavored rum
- 1/2 fluid ounce grenadine syrup
- 1 fluid ounce orange juice
- 1 fluid ounce pineapple juice
- 1 cup crushed ice
Mix the rum and the coconut-rum with the orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine alongside crushed ice in an electric blender.
(Recipe source: AllRecipes)
Dominican Republic: Cuba Libre
For our next selection, we’re taking it back to basics: Check out our recipe for the Cuba Libre, a famous cocktail in the Dominican Republic (as indeed it is in Cuba) that is also more commonly referred to as Rum and Coke. How will this transport me to vacation-land, you may be wondering, considering I drank this all throughout college? Well, we can guarantee the quality of the rum was not quite up to par (it rarely is outside the Caribbean) nor the attention to aesthetics. Do not neglect the finishing touches! Some lime juice and a lime wedge adds a citrusy jolt to this tried-and-true cocktail, which also provides the additional welcome relief of a caffeine-boost. (It’s hard not to feel lethargic when you’re home all day, after all.)
The Mama Juana is a Dominican drink that can akes months to prepare. Apparently it’s worth the effort, however, as the cocktail is said to cure illness.
Additionally, the Coco Libre is not to be confused with the Coco Loco, another super-popular drink in the Dominican Republic. Both cocktails are standard orders in Punta Cana—which, thanks to the Punta Cana Promise, a collective effort on behalf of the tourism industry towards higher-standards and quality control—is safer (and even more enjoyable) to visit now than ever. Finally, more adventurous travelers (and stay-at-home mixologists) can opt for the Santo Libre if they’re feeling uninspired by the prospect of upgrading a well-known classic. The genuinely fearless can attempt to recreate the infamous Mama Juana, a Dominican drink that takes months to prepare. Apparently, it’s worth the effort, however, as it’s said to cure illness. Our Cuba Libre, however, is said to cure boredom—and we can drink to that.
- Lime wedge
- Lime Juice
Pour the coke into an ice-filled glass, and then add as much (or as little) rum as you would like before adding the lime juice and lime wedge for garnish/aesthetics.
(Recipe source: Punta Cana Adventures)
Barbados: Rum Punch
For our next selection, we’re heading to the homeland of Rihanna—a place that’s just as magical as the previous statement would suggest. An island country that—while it may not have invented rum (a heavily-contested accolade in the Caribbean)—has certainly perfected it. For this reason, we are granting Barbados with the distinct honor of being the island in the Caribbean to go to for the best rum punch—fully aware of how controversial such a claim may seem. It would only appear so to the uninformed, however, as the Bajan tradition for rum-making excellence has only grown in recent years, thanks to rum-pairing dinners and a world-renowned Rum Vault at the Colony Club in St. James. Finally, amateur mixologists eager to test their skills beyond the traditional Rum Punch, should consider recreating the Mauby, another delicious Bajan cocktail that is nevertheless a challenge for amateurs to whip up in their landlocked kitchens. In that respect, it has something in common with the Mama Juana, an island staple up north in the Dominican Republic. Though, if that challenge is accepted, we’re sure home-bound mixologists will have ample time to try to figure it out. Cheers to that!
- Fresh-squeezed lime juice
- Sugar syrup (two measures)
- Dark Caribbean rum (three measures)
- Water (four measures)
- Angostura Bitters (just a dash)
- Freshly-grated nutmeg, Passionfruit (optional)
Place sugar and water in a saucepan and cook until the sugar has dissolved and added to the juice. Add rum and water, pour into a glass with lots of ice, and use a dash of bitters and sprinkling of nutmeg. When it comes to dark rum, the more aged, the better for the rum punch. And if the whole saucepan portion is less appealing, then passionfruit juice will suffice, but make sure you use less syrup then as a result.
(Recipe source: Totally Barbados)
Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua Smile
If you haven’t yet visited the Twin Islands of Antigua and Barbuda, you are—to put it quite simply—missing out. Missing out on weekly sundowners at Shirley Height—you may not recognize the lookout by name, though, but you certainly would by vista. Missing out on the world-class sailing and lush hilly environs that draws the yachting crowd to its waters each winter (only to return to the South of France in the summertime.) And the best place to enjoy Antigua’s laid-back yet luxurious ambiance is at the ultra-chic, ultra-secluded Carlisle Bay Resort, with its private beach overlooking the glistening inlet.
One sip of an Antigua Smile will transport you across the ocean to a chaise lounge at Carlisle Bay—blissfully sun-kissed and quarantine-fee.
Of course, your first introduction to Antigua then, would be with this cocktail: the Antigua Smile. And, indeed, there is much about Antigua to keep you smiling and happy the entire duration of your stay. So, it’s worthwhile to channel that sun-and-sand-soaked bliss towards environs slightly more monotonous—say, your place of residence. And, though Antigua is the Land of 365 Beaches, it’s physically impossible to daydream about all 365 while you’re away. We recommend you take a sip and envision yourself overlooking Carlisle Bay (Google Image is, of course, helpful for those who haven’t been/lack imagination). And hopefully, soon enough, you’ll be there—blissfully quarantine-free. See you on the beach.
- Black Pineapple
- 1 ½ ounces dark rum
- 1-ounce crème de banana
- 1½ ounces pineapple juice
- ½ ounce sour mix Method
- Mango Wedge
Take 1.5 ounces of dark rum, 1 ounce of crème de banana, and 1 ounce of fresh pineapple juice and half an ounce of sour mix and shake all ingredients together with crushed ice. Afterward, pour in a tumbler and garnish with mango and pineapple wedges.
(Recipe source: Caribbean Journal)
Belize: Espanto Wave
Is our next choice both refreshing and delicious? You better Belize it! Forgive our puns as we leave the islands for the coast of Central America (one of the wildest and most wondrous places on the planet, incidentally.) Our recommended recipe comes courtesy of Cayo Espanto, an island of barefoot luxury located three miles off the coast of Belize. Personal butlers and dedicated on-island staff dote on guests at one of the private island’s seven villas. Hyper-luxury isn’t a requirement for visiting a country like Belize, where the beauty of the Mayan Mountains and the aquatic wonders of the Great Blue Hole is more than enough to satisfy even the most discerning traveler already. But that extra level of attention and consideration is certainly appreciated—and even fantasized about during a voluntary house-arrest. So, we suggest, that first, you mix this drink, and second, you make plans to book a stay for the moment we’re all able to travel again. Good luck, though—there are, after all, only seven.
- 1 oz Captain Morgan Rum
- 0.5 oz Blue Curacao Liquor
- 0.3 oz Amaretto, 0.5 oz of Triple Sec
- 1 oz of Pineapple squash
- 1 oz of Lime juice
- 1 tablespoon Sugar, Ice cubes
Gather up all of the ingredients, and blend the Rum, Blue Curacao, Amaretto, Triple Sec, Lime Juice, Pineapple Squash, and Sugar into a frozen concoction. Then pour a glass and enjoy the fruit of your labor.
(Recipe source: Cayo Espanto)
The Florida Keys: Key Lime Pie Mojito
Though our next selection may not technically be located within the Caribbean physically, it certainly is emotionally—and isn’t that what this article is all about? For our next choice, we’re headed back to the USA but rather than arriving at our regular backdrops for social distancing and self-loathing, we’re traveling instead to that wondrous oasis known as the Florida Keys, a land proudly closer to Cuba than mainland Florida. Our recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser—a hybrid between a Mojito and Key Lime Pie (signature offerings from Cuba and the Keys, respectively). This delightful combination of two mouthwatering elements begs the question: What more could one want out of life—or out of vacation? Well, luckily for would-be travelers, the destination that offers this delectable cocktail, Hawks Cay Resort, is also well-known for its luxurious offerings across the board as well. One sip will transport you to this tropical island paradise, trust us. And, maybe when the pandemic subsides, you’ll be able to witness it with your own eyes, rather than merely your imagination—though the latter isn’t to be discounted, particularly during these trying times.
- 1 ½ oz Conch Republic Rum
- ½ oz Keke Key Lime Cream Liqueur
- ½ oz Fresh lime juice
½ oz Simple syrup
2 ½ oz Club soda
8 Mint leaves, ½ Lime Mint sprig
Fill shaker with all ingredients aside from club soda and 2/3 ice: Shake vigorously. Afterward, add the club soda and give it one last final shake before pouring it into a 12-ounce glass (you want to be precise, don’t you?) Garnish with lime juice and lime mint sprig for the full-on key lime accouterments.
(Recipe source: Hawks Cay Resort )
U.S. Virgin Islands: Painkiller
Last, but certainly not least, we’re featuring the recipe for one of the most joy-inducing beverages on the planet: The aptly-named Painkiller. The U.S. Virgin Islands are known as America’s Paradise for a reason, and one reason is they do, quite literally, kill all pain from the moment you step off the plane in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and receive this welcome drink at the airport. Is there a better form of greeting? We think not. So, mix one of these at home and allow yourself to mentally float way to the arrivals gate of Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas. And once you manage to pull off that deceptively-easy mind trick, we’ll meet you there. Welcome to vacation during the time of the coronavirus. And cheers!
- 2 ounces of Pusser’s Rum
- 4 ounces of pineapple juice
- 1 ounce of cream of coconut
- 1 ounce orange juice
Pour all of the ingredients into an ice-filled shaker, and then shake and shake before emptying the contents into a tall glass. Then, top off with grated nutmeg. (Serves one.)
(Recipe source: St. John Beach Guide)