By Jen Lewallen
Collecting passport stamps or checking destinations off the wanderlist are a satisfying tradition for many an avid traveler. When island hopping around the Caribbean, however, a ritual of another form takes place. Nothing goes better with white sand and turquoise waves than a colorful cocktail sporting fruity garnishes and little umbrellas, and we’re making it our mission to sip our way around the islands one signature drink at a time. Check these boozy beverages off your Caribbean cocktail checklist on your next tropical getaway.
The Bahama Mama, The Islands of the Bahamas
Come on pretty mama, and take a sip of this Bahamas’ favorite. With over 700-plus islands making up the chain, it’s no surprise that there is an ongoing debate about the original recipe for this sunrise-hued drink. Some call for coffee flavored liqueur or for the bold flavored beverage straight up, but all versions contain dark rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and a few dashes of grenadine straight into the glass to give it that layered look. No matter which version you find yourself drinking, one thing is for sure – it’ll be a delicious accompaniment to sunbathing on a Bahamian white-powder beach.
Rum Punch, Jamaica
The island of ‘All Right’ can be accredited for creating a number of our favorite tropical cocktails, but the most famous beverage to shake its way out of this paradise has to be Rum Punch. This drink has a long and celebrated history that dates back to colonial times. Thanks to pirates, a fruity concoction featuring their favorite sugarcane distilled alcohol found its way to the harbors of America. Rumor has it Rum Punch was the drink of choice at the City Tavern in Philadelphia on the night of September 17, 1787, or the day the U.S. Constitution was signed. The first printed recipe was found in an 1878 issue of London’s Fun magazine, which praised the Jamaican-born beverage. In between jamming to Bob Marley music and hiking up Dunn’s River Falls, be sure to grab a cold glass of Rum Punch filled with three types of rum, pineapple, orange, and lime juices, and grenadine, and know that you’re sipping on a piece of history.
Related: 10 Foods You Can’t Miss in Jamaica
Piña Colada, Puerto Rico
You don’t need a passport to visit this culturally-rich island, but you do need to get your hands on its national drink. Puerto Rico is the proud parent of one of the most popular tropical cocktails in the world – the Piña Colada. This creamy beverage is a favorite of adults and kids alike – served sans alcohol to little ones, of course. Once again, pirates are to thank for this mixture of white rum, coconut cream or milk, and pineapple juice. A story about Puerto Rican pirate captain Robert Cofresí says he served the early version of this drink to his crew to boost morale, and it’s been perfected and favored across the island ever since. So if you like Piña Coladas, but would prefer to get caught in the sun, head to Puerto Rico.
Aruba Ariba, Aruba
Aruba is known as “One Happy Island” because of its friendly locals, but we’d bet that this delightful cocktail is partially to blame. The purest version of this drink can only be enjoyed in Aruba, because one of its main ingredients, coecoei – a crimson liquor made from the red sap of a local agave plant – is not exported off the island. This sweet spirit is combined with vodka, 151-proof rum, Crème de Banana, and orange, cranberry, and pineapple juices to create one boozed up beverage that’s sure to bring a smile to your face. While you’re visiting for the perfect weather, refreshing island breezes, and flavorful cuisine, make sure you get your fill of the island’s exclusive Aruba Ariba cocktail.
Related: Aruba, One Happy Island