Tropical Drinks All Bartenders Should Know

 

 

Buy this tropical girl drink print from Garry Palm

There’s a basic bar punch mix that some bartenders will pre mix for maximum efficiency. It’s a combination of orange juice, pineapple juice, sour mix and grenadine.(Learn about sour mix at the top of this page.)So, if a guest asks for a Rum Punch, then this is what you’d make them including the rum. Many Tropical drinks will use this bar punch mix.

 


Hurricane

 

The Hurricane was created in the 1940’s at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans. At the time, you had to buy several cases of rum in order to get a case of whiskey, so the Pat had to figure out a way to use up the extra rum. He poured the concoction in huge hurricane lamp-shaped glasses and sold it to tourists and sailors. The rest is history. Know that the recipe has changed a few times and some even contained Galliano, bitters, Cognac, and Absinthe, but the basics of rum and fruit juices have sustained longer than any of those.


Glass: Large Hurricane glass (about 23 oz)
2 ounce of light rum
2 ounce dark rum
2 ounce red passion fruit syrup
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice
Mixing Method: Some shake then strain into a glass of fresh ice and some build then roll.
Garnish: flag and a cherry at the minimum.

Note: Most bars don’t carry passion fruit juice, so they just omit it or use grenadine in it's place. Also, some bars add a 151 rum floater. No original recipes have ever called for the floater, but it believed to have started in the 1980’s to distinguish it from a Planter’s Punch since the passion fruit was not being used.

 


The Pat O’Brien’s powdered mix that you find in stores is not owned by Pat O’Brien’s anymore. The company that bought it also purchased the rights to use the Pat O’Brien name. The official Pat O’Brien’s mix is sold in bottles and can be found at their website.

Also, the original Hurricane was NEVER made with Southern Comfort. That came from Southern Comfort marketing in the 1980s. To be fair that drink can be called a Southern Comfort Hurricane.


Planter's Punch


Planter’s Punch has always been associated with Myers’s Jamaican Dark Rum. The bottle even had the recipe on the back label for many years.


Glass: Tropical glass.
2 ounces dark rum
Fill with bar punch mix
Mixing Method: Some shake then strain into a glass of ice and some build then roll.
Garnish: flag and a cherry at the minimum.


Note: Some recipes call for no pineapple juice.


Zombie

 


The Zombie was created by Donn Beach (born Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt). Donn was a bootllegger in New Orleans during prohibition and Pat O'Brien was one of his customers. After prohibition he moved to Hollywood, CA and opened the first tiki bar, Don the Beachcomber Restaurant. He invented the first pu pu platter and many tiki drinks with the Zombie being the most popular. The Zombie was served at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and was also known as the Tahitian Rum Punch. Donn’s rival was Trader Vic (inventor of the Mai Tai), who also opened tiki-themed restaurants and bars. In most bars across America you will find bartenders making the Zombie with this recipe.


Tall tropical glass
1 oz gold rum
1 oz 151 demerara rum
1 oz light rum
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz lime juice
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz passion fruit syrup
1 tsp brown sugar
1 dash Angostura bitters
Pour everything into a shaker tin without ice and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add ice then shake and strain into the glass over fresh ice.
Garnish: Mint sprig was the original garnish. Today you'll find something tropical.

 

 


There have been other ingredients in the recipe in the past like papaya juice, Cherry Heering, Pernod, applejack, passion fruit juice, and orange curacoa, but most modern bars don’t carry these items or even get asked for the drink so most bartenders just make a Hurricane with apricot brandy and a 151 rum floater.


Mai Tai

 


Mai Tai means Out of this World in Tahitian. Vic Bergeron, also known as Trader Vic, claims to have invented the Mai Tai in 1944, however Don the Beachcomber says the same thing. Evidence seems to lean towards Trader Vic though. His original recipe uses Jamaican light and gold rum, fresh limejuice, a few dashes of orange Curacao syrup, French orgeat, and rock candy syrup. The gold rum is saved to float on top of the drink. Now, I know most modern bars don’t carry orgeat (OAR-zhat, non-alcoholic almond flavored syrup) or Curacao syrup (CURE-uh-sow, non-alcoholic orange flavored syrup), but what do you think happened over the years? I’ll tell ya—amaretto replaced the orgeat, triple sec replaced the Curacao, and the fresh limejuice and rock candy syrup was replaced by sweet-n-sour mix. The gold rum was even replaced by dark rum. So a real Mai Tai should be goldish with a dark top. Just like the Mai Tai’s Angela Lansbury serves at a party for Elvis Presley in the 1961 film, Blue Hawaii.


Somehow, someway, pineapple juice crept into the recipe over the years and grenadine followed soon after, So here are two of the most popular Mai Tai recipes.

Trader Vic Mai Tai

Double Old fashioned glass
1 oz aged Jamaican rum (like Appleton’s)
1 oz amber Martinique rum (like St. James or Clément)
.5 oz orange Curaçao
.5 oz orgeat syrup (French almond syrup)
.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Trader Vic’s rock candy syrup (or commercial simple syrup)
Mint sprig garnish
Shake and strain ingredients over fresh ice.

Copycat Mai Tai
Tropical glass
1 oz light rum
1 oz dark rum
.5 oz triple sec
.5 oz amaretto
2 oz sour mix
2 oz pineapple juice
Pineapple and cherry garnish
Shake and strain ingredients (except dark rum) over fresh ice. Float dark rum on top.

 

 

 

 

 

Rum Runner

 

In the 1500’s, rumrunners were pirates that ran illegal rum to colonies that were heavily taxed. During prohibition in the 1920’s the most famous rumrunner was Captain William McCoy because he didn’t add water to his spirits like the others. This is how we got the phrase The Real McCoy.


Glass: Tropical glass.
1 ounce dark rum
1/2 ounce 151 rum
1 ounce crème de banana
1 ounce blackberry brandy
1 ounce grenadine
1 ounce Rose’s limejuice

Mixing Method: blend.
Garnish: Anything tropical.


Of course there are slight variations for the Rum Runner, but the common ingredients are always banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, lime, cherry, and rum. This recipe happens to be the best recipe I’ve ever tasted. You’ll notice in most bars that the banana liqueur and blackberry brandy always sit next to each other and the reason is for this drink. When made on the rocks, most add pineapple juice to fill in the gaps.

 


Piña Colada

 

In Spanish, Piña Colada means strained pineapple. The Piña Colada is probably the most popular tropical drink of all time. It’s said to be invented on August 15, 1954 at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s said that bartender Ramon Monchito Marrero Perez invented it and served in coconuts and pineapples. At the time, the drink was not blended. That came a little bit later when the coconut cream called Coco Lopez made it’s way to the Beachcomber Bar. The Piña Colada is the official drink of Puerto Rico.


Glass: Tropical drink glass.
1 1/2 ounces of rum
4 ounces of Piña Colada mix


Mixing Method: blend.
Garnish: Pineapple and cherry flag and just a cherry at the minimum. Please don’t add an orange.


The very best Piña Colada mix is mixture of Coco Lopez and pineapple juice. You’ll need about 1 cup of Coco Lopez for every 3 cups of pineapple juice. However, depending on your taste you can add more or less of each ingredient. Most bars will have some kind of Piña Colada mix you’ll have to use. You can make flavored Coladas by adding strawberry mix for a Strawberry Colada or Midori for a Melon Colada.

 

 

Piña Colada Family


Chi Chi; it’s just a Piña Colada made with vodka instead of rum.

 

 


Bahama Mama


There are so many recipes for a Bahama Mama. When I worked on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, I asked a Bahamian bartender at the popular Nassau Green Door Bar about it and he said that it’s a cross between a Piña Colada and a Rum Punch. .


Glass: Tropical drink glass.
1 ounce of light rum
1 ounce of dark rum
2 ounces of Piña Colada mix
2 ounces of bar punch mix


Mixing Method: blend.
Garnish: Pineapple and cherry flag, anything tropical, or just a cherry.


You’ll see a lot of recipes that use coconut rum. This is because they are replacing it with the coconut flavor of the Piña Colada mix then adding pineapple juice. Some recipes will have banana liqueur and coffee liqueur, but I tend to stick with what a real Bahamian bartender told me years ago.

 


Strawberry Daiquiri

 


Glass: Tropical drink glass.
1 1/2 ounces of rum
4 ounces of strawberry mix


Mixing Method: blend.
Garnish: Strawberry, lime wedge, sugared rim, or whipped cream with a cherry on top. Just depends where you work.

Strawberry Mix
To make flavored mixes all you need is five things; the fruits (or fruits) of choice, water, sugar, lime juice, and a blender. It’s easy! Let’s say you want to make strawberry Daiquiri mix. (1) Take 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of lukewarm water and shake in a jar. Let the cloudiness go away then shake again until all the sugar has dissolved in the water. Set aside. (2) Squeeze a cup of lime juice. Set aside. (3) Cut the tops off 4 cups of ripe strawberries then wash well. You can also use frozen strawberries and frozen strawberies packed in sugar. (4) Everyone has a different blender size (and strawberries are different sizes) so you may have to make the mix in batches. Fill your blender half with strawberries then pour in half of the lime juice and half of the sugar water and blend. Your goal to keep adding and blending ingredients make a pourable mix. Taste as you go. You may not need all the sugar water depending on the ripeness of the strawberries. Yields half gallon. Pour into a container and keep in the fridge.


Most bars have a strawberry mix that they use, but are usually just sweet strawberry flavored liquid you see in the mixer section of your local store.Don't buy these! Bars in tropical locations tend to bump it up a notch and stock better and meatier brands, however, the very best is making your own. Also, most people don’t know that lime juice is an essential part of this drink, but it is and it’s also why it’s appropriate to garnish with a lime wedge.


Also, it’s easy to make other flavored daiquiris. If your bar doesn’t provide a lot of flavored mixers then you’ll have to get creative. For example, you can make a peach daiquiri by using peach schnapps, limejuice, orange juice and a touch of grenadine to color it peachy. Just think about all the different flavored liqueurs that are available to you and you’ll begin to see that the options are unlimited.

 


Blue Hawaii

In the 1950s, Hawaii went through a phase of exotic paradise construction to attract tourists. Tropical get-aways were being built on every island and the largest of these was the Hawaiian Village on the island of O'ahu. Harry Yee, a 30-year veteran bartender at the Hawaiian Village was asked by Bols to help promote their blue Curaçao and the Blue Hawaii was born. When asked about the orchid garnish his answer was, “We used to use a sugar cane stick and people would chew on the stick, then put it in the ashtray. When the ashes and cane stuck together it made a real mess so I put the orchids in the drink to make the ashtrays easier to clean.

Yee was not only the first to put an orchid in a drink he also put the first paper parasol in a drink and even put a Chinese back scratcher in a drink he called Tropical Itch. There are just too many of his drinks to mention, but just know that at the time there weren’t any “Hawaiian Drinks” so he was the one responsible for lighting this fire. The Blue Hawaiian is a spin-off Harry’s Blue Hawaii minus the orchid and vodka. If you ask for this drink in any bar today, this is the version will receive.

The Original Blue Hawaii
Tropical glass
.75 oz of Puerto Rican rum
.75 oz vodka
.5 oz of Bols blue Curaçao
3 oz pineapple juice
1 oz sour mix


Orchid garnish
Shake and strain the ingredients over fresh ice.

Blue Hawaiian
Tropical glass
1 oz light rum
.5 oz blue Curaçao
3 oz pineapple juice
1 oz sour mix
Pineapple flag garnish
Shake and strain the ingredients over fresh ice.


 


The Top Tropical Drinks You Must Know


Bahama Mama
Blue Hawaiian
Blue Hawaii
Hurricane
Mai Tai
Piña Colada
Planter’s Punch
Rum Runner
Strawberry Daiquiri
Zombie

The Juicy Family The Shot Family
The Creamy Family The Classic Family
The Sour Family The Highball Family
The Tropical Family The Stick Family
The Hot Family Misc. Family