GIVE your summer holiday a tropical twist with a Caribbean cocktail
No competition here: Cuba’s signature drink is the mojito. Its history goes back to the 16th century, when Francis Drake and his comrades drank a mixture of crushed mint leaves, lime and unrefined rum. It became famous in its modern-day form when Ernest Hemingway drank it at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, and James Bond enjoyed one in 2002’s Die Another Day — a suitable drink for the film’s Cuban backdrop.
Grenada: Calabash Rum
Grenada grows 20% of the world’s nutmeg – hence its name, the “Spice Isle” – so it’s not surprising that the ingredient makes its way into the island’s classic drinks. The Calabash rum cocktail mixes white River Antoine rum with Grenadian nutmeg syrup, freshly squeezed lime juice, a spoon of caster sugar and – for colour – a dash of Blue Curaçao. All this is topped with more grated nutmeg – so you’ve got to like the stuff to enjoy this tipple.
Jamaica: Planter’s Punch
Rum has an official classification system on Jamaica, categorising the alcohol from light and clear to rich and dark varieties. Planter’s Punch, an International Bartenders’ Association official cocktail, combines dark rum, lemon juice, grenadine syrup and Angostura bitters, a potent mix of 44.7% alcohol, herbs and spices that comes from Trinidad and Tobago. According to the online magazine Charleston City Paper, the London magazine Fun ran recipe instructions in verse in September 1878:
“A wine glass with lemon juice fill, / Of sugar the same glass fill twice. / Then rub them together until / The mixture looks smooth, soft, and nice. / Of rum then three wine glasses add, / And four of cold water please take. / A drink then you’ll have that’s not bad, / At least, so they say in Jamaica.”
Puerto Rico: Pina Colada
The pina colada has become probably the world’s most famous way to use pineapple juice. With a name that literally means “pressed pineapple”, this drink was actually concocted not by a Caribbean resident, but by a man named Ricardo Garcia, who was born in Barcelona in 1914.
It is said he invented it by accident, when coconut cutters went on strike and Garcia needed something to put in the drinks he was serving guests at the Caribe Hilton Hotel on Puerto Rico. He used pineapples instead to house the coco-loco cocktails he made, and added crushed iced and strained pineapple, and the pina colada was born.
Curacao has an eponymous liqueur, meaning the whole island is now commonly associated with the potent alcohol, often coloured blue or orange. The alcohol is flavoured with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit, which has grown on the island since it was imported by Spanish explorers. Some varieties have hints of coffee, chocolate and rum and raisin.
Dominican Republic: Mama Juana
Described by Lonely Planet’s guide to the Dominican Republic as the “DR’s homemade version of Viagra”, this concoction is not exactly a cocktail, but rather a potent blend of herbs, honey, wine, rum and dried bark, steeped together for a month, that is believed to have medicinal properties, curing illnesses and replacing vitamins. We might stick with a pina colada.
Trinidad: Blanchisseuse Rum Punch
Blanchisseuse rum punch is unique to Trinidad and was named after a beach party at Blanchisseuse, a village on the northern coast. The addition of Portugal juice means it is a little more challenging to make than your average cocktail, but these tangerine-like fruits – grown extensively on Trinidad and pronounced poo-tee-gal(s) – add extra zing, if it was ever needed.
British Virgin Islands: The Painkiller
The Painkiller may not live up to its name – indeed, one too many may have the opposite effect. Made with Pusser’s rum, it originated at the six-seat Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke island in the BVI, where the English owner, Daphne Henderson, was famous for her strong rum cocktails. She made friends with the founder of Pusser’s distillery, Charles Tobias, but only after much persuasion did he manage to extract from her the secret recipe. Drinkers deemed Tobias’s version superior, and the Painkiller has since garnered fame throughout the Caribbean.
The Bahamas: Bahama Mama
It’s thought this complicated cocktail was first made during the Prohibition era when the Bahamas were a smuggling hotspot. It features two types of rum – dark rum and 75.5% volume, 151 proof. Some variations include coffee and coconut liqueurs. It is often served in a coconut. – The Daily Telegraph
1½ limes, cut into wedges
20 fresh mint leaves
2½ tsp granulated sugar
65ml white rum
splash soda water, to taste
fresh mint sprig, to garnish
Place the limes, mint and sugar into a sturdy highball glass and “muddle” or mash with the end of a clean rolling pin, to bruise the mint and release the lime juice.
Add the ice and pour over the rum.
Add soda water to taste and stir well. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.
35ml gold rum
1 tablespoon coconut-flavoured rum
50ml coconut cream
50ml pineapple juice
3-4 pineapple chunks
2 pineapple leaves
1 maraschino cherry
Pour the two rums, the coconut cream, pineapple juice and chunks of pineapple into a blender and blend until smooth.
To serve, pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with pineapple leaves and a maraschino cherry.
60ml Pusser’s dark rum
30ml cream of coconut
120ml pineapple juice
30ml orange juice
Shake or stir ingredients, and pour over ice in a tall glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top, and serve. Serves one, double the recipe for two, and quadruple for four.