The Caribbean's Quintessential Cocktail
In the West Indies, there are as many combinations of rum + fruit juice + spice as there are islands to sip them on. Here, four standout renditions.
So entrenched is the recipe for Bajan rum punch that it’s known by a timeless rhyme: “One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.” The combination of lime juice, simple syrup, Mount Gay rum, and chipped ice is pretty much inescapable.
Where to Sip It: John Moore Bar (246/422-2258), a rum shack on the beach in St. James Parish.
Come Christmas, Jamaicans fill their glasses with crimson-hued sorrel punch, made from dried hibiscus leaves. Other ingredients—ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice— add warmth. “The drink started turning up in the twentieth century,” says cocktail historian David Wondrich, author of Punch. “Every island has its own bottled fruit punch, similar to Hi-C. Hibiscus is just a high-end version.”
Where to Sip It: The Cedar Bar at Montego Bay’s Half Moon, a RockResort—at sunset, of course.
Don’t mistake the cloying Bahama Mama served at Applebee’s for the real thing. Locals prefer the not-too-boozy quaff made with vanilla-tinged Nassau Royale liqueur, along with gold and coconut rums, orange and pineapple juices, grenadine, and Angostura bitters.
Where to Sip It: The cheerful Frankie Gone Bananas, at the Nassau Fish Fry.
Rich and creamy, St. Lucians’ beloved peanut punch could double as dessert. Made with roasted nuts (peanut butter will do in a pinch) plus regular and sweetened condensed milk, this traditional tipple—which sometimes gets an uplift from spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg—is more a homey favorite than common bar call.
Where to Sip It: Over a game of Scrabble at Ladera Resort, in Soufrière.