Island Hopping with Caribbean Rum DrinksBy Paul Senft
The Caribbean Islands are home to beautiful beaches, historic locations, and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. In this day and age getting to the islands is easier than ever via cruise ship or plane. But even those methods sometimes aren’t quick enough to transport us from our busy lives. Here are a few drinks that can give you a taste of the islands from the comforts of your own home.
Our first stop is the island of Puerto Rico, home to the Piña Colada. This storied libation is considered the national cocktail of the island. The origin of the cocktail is contested, but one story claims that Ramon Marrero created the cocktail in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton Hotel. After experimenting with varying amounts of rum, pineapple juice, and coconut cream he finally perfected what would become his signature cocktail. He served the cocktail at the hotel for 25 years — travelers can still visit and consume his frozen drink. The second story has Ramon Portas Mingot creating it in 1963 at Barrachina, a restaurant located in Old San Juan. He too mixed rum, pineapple juice, and coconut cream in a blender. No matter which tale you believe, what resulted was a tasty concoction that is easy to make at home.
Left: Ramon Marrero, Right: Plaque celebrating Ramon Portas Mingot
– 3 oz pineapple juice
– 3 oz coconut cream
– 1 oz of Puerto Rican rum (try Don Q Cristal)
Pour all ingredients in a blender with ice and blend until smooth.
Optional garnishes: Maraschino cherry, pineapple wedge, or paper umbrella and often all of the above.
US VIRGIN ISLANDS
The second stop is to the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the island of Saint Thomas is home to the cocktail known as the Bushwacker. This drink was created in 1975 at Sapphire Beach Village by bartender Angie Conigliaro and the restaurant’s manager Tom Brokamp in their quest to create a tropical White Russian. The story of the name is as fun as the cocktail. Angie served the unnamed drink to customers who came in with their dog, an Afghan named Bushwack. They both fell in love with the cocktail and Angie decided to name the drink after their dog.
Today you can travel to St. Thomas and try different versions of the cocktail.
The Bushwacker (original Sapphire Beach Village version)
– 1 ½ oz vodka
– ¾ oz Kahlua
– ¾ oz dark crème de cocoa
– 2 oz whole milk or half and half
– 1 oz Coco Lopez cream of coconut
– 1 splash triple sec
Blend all ingredients with ice. Pour into a Hurricane glass and top with a sprinkle of freshly-grated nutmeg.
Bushwacker Recipe (Coki Beach)
Journey to Coki Beach and enjoy this potent variation of the cocktail.
– 2 oz Kahlua
– 2 oz dark rum (Cruzan Aged Dark Rum)
– 2 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
– 2 oz vodka or light rum (Cruzan Diamond Light Rum)
– 2 oz amaretto
– 2 oz crème de coconut
– One cup of ice
– Whipped cream
Pour all ingredients except whipped cream and nutmeg into a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a Hurricane glass. Top with whipped cream and a pinch of nutmeg.
The third stop on our libation vacation is the island of Martinique, home to Rhum Agricole (rhum created from the juice of fresh-pressed sugarcane). Once travelers leave the city of Fort-de-France they quickly discover fields of bananas and sugarcane sweeping the landscape of the island. The preferred cocktail of this island is the Ti’ Punch which means “small punch”. Each distillery on the island competes to create the best flavorful unaged rhum agricole. Aside from sipping it neat, Ti’ Punch is the best way to showcase these rhums.
Clément Canne Bleue Ti’ Punch
– 2 oz rhum agricole blanc (try Clément Canne Bleue)
– Juice of one lime
– 1/2 oz sugarcane syrup
Build in old fashioned glass. Squeeze the lime into the glass, pour the syrup over the lime juice. Next, add the rhum and swizzle the contents together. Some prefer to add a couple of ice cubes; others prefer a tablespoon of crushed ice.
“Chacun prépare sa propre mort” which translates to “each one prepares their own death” is the tradition in Martinique. The Ti’ Punch should be suited to each person’s taste –experiment with the ingredients to find your own balance.
Our fourth and final stop is the island of Barbados. This historic island is known to many as the birthplace of rum and is home to four distilleries. Add to this the picturesque beaches, limestone caverns, and lush vegetation and there is a lot to see and do. As you experience the hospitality of the island you’re bound to encounter one of their favored drinks.
Barbados Rum Punch / Photo Credit: Mount Gay
Barbados Rum Punch
– 1 oz lime juice
– 1 oz simple syrup
– 2 oz of aged Barbados rum (try Mount Gay Eclipse)
– 1 dash of Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake. Pour ingredients over fresh ice in a highball glass and top with nutmeg.
As our imaginative journey returns us to our home ports we hope you have found some inspiration for the next time your vacation doesn’t align with the call of the islands.