While these five drinks aren’t the only Caribbean cocktails to wrap your lips around, they’re among the best known and most beloved. Odds are you’ve heard of most of them, but have you tried them all? We consulted Tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s essential tome “Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean” ($39.95, Cocktail Kingdom) to help compile the list and ensure that these are indeed Caribbean drinks, not imports from Hawaii or the South Seas. (Sorry, Mai Tai, but we still love you).
Originating at the Caribe Hotel in Puerto Rico in 1954, this frothy pineapple-coconut cocktail has become a symbol of tropical vacation paradise. It’s also one of the best-known blender drinks, spawning hundreds of variations.
Tall, cool and refreshing, this rum staple (usually made with white rum, lime and sugar) is served with plenty of ice and lengthened with soda water. Bartenders claim to hate making Mojitos, due to the time and effort needed to muddle fresh mint in the bottom of the glass. But they’re still a pleasure to drink.
Though it’s just a Rum & Coke with a squeeze of lime, what makes this cocktail iconic is that it supposedly doubled as a toast to a free Cuba: “Por Cuba Libre!” The hit Andrews Sisters song “Rum and Coca-Cola” helped the drink’s popularity throughout the 1950s.
The Ti’ Punch—short for “petit punch” or “little punch”—is an ideal way to drink rhum agricole, the robust, grassy rum style made in Martinique and other Caribbean islands. Usually mixed with rum (specifically rhum agricole), cane syrup and a fresh lime half squeezed into an ice-filled glass, this is a forgiving drink, and everyone seems to have their own variation. No wonder it’s Martinique’s national drink.
At heart, it’s just a simple Rum Sour, made with the Caribbean holy trinity of rum, lime juice and sugar. Yet done right, with a good rum, it’s magical. On a sultry summer day, a Frozen Daiquiri is nothing to sneer at either.