A cocktail is much more than something to sip. Often, a cocktail represents the heart of a place, an old family recipe, indigenous ingredients with storied pasts and tales of survival, and, of course, cultural pride. Annually, over 30 million tourists flock to the Caribbean, not only for its awe-inspiring beaches, but also those tropical flavored drinks with the cute little umbrellas in them. What is often overlooked, though, is the expertise and story of the mixologist who makes the drink. The people who shake, stir, and pour concoctions over ice, with training that extends far beyond your average Mai Tai. More than just a brightly colored cocktail to gulp down, there is passion, precision, and a connection to a place, all in one glass.
Caribbean mixologists from Grenada to Trinidad created the following recipes exclusively for VinePair. Some are shaken, others are frozen or stirred, and all are made with ingredients that represent the island where they’re grown. Beyond their tropical appeal, each tells a story of the place it was created, from Barbados, Grenada, and Anguilla, to Trinidad & Tobago, to the Bahamas, to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Spiked Amaretto Brûlée Recipe
Developed by: Phillip ‘Casanova’ Antoine
Since Barbados is the birthplace of rum, it’s only fitting that Phillip Antoine, owner and head liquid artist of Casanova Liquid Artistry, a Barbados-based liquor brand, remixed crème brûlée dessert to include the island’s native spirit. In celebration of Barbados’s recent Welcome Stamp, an immersive, year-long remote working opportunity for travelers, Antoine has created a number of cocktails that represent the island, including this Spiked Amaretto Brûlée Recipe.
“I love this cocktail not only because it’s gorgeous, but also because the flavors of citrus harmonize beautifully with the aromatics and nutty taste of the almond in the amaretto,” says Antoine, who was also named the island’s Bartender of the Year in 2015. “This combination with the caramelized sugar adds a yummy, smoky aroma and flavor that synchronizes well with the rum. All these characteristics remind me of elements of Caribbean and island life.”
- 1 ounce dark rum
- 1 ½ ounces amaretto
- 1 ¼ ounces lime juice
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- Colored sugar (garnish)
- Place all ingredients in shaker tin.
- Add ice and shake vigorously to marry ingredients, emulsify egg white, and chill beverage.
- Strain into serving ware (coupette glass, preferably)
- Sprinkle sugar evenly across the foam layer (caramelize with a Brûlée torch, if available)
The Xtra Spiced Beet Recipe
Developed by: Rachael Findley
Most who have been to Grenada associate the island with nutmeg rather than root vegetables (Grenada is called “Spice Island,” after all). But Rachel Findley, local mixologist and “Flavours of Grenada Mixology” champion, introduced another flavor to represent her island: Beets.
At Silversands Grenada, where Findley is resident mixologist and runs the rum, Cognac, and cigar lounge Puro, “I chose to create a spin on beets, which are widely used on my island of Grenada for a source of energy and replenishment, especially in this climate,” Findley says. “I wanted to spice it up a bit and add a spirit like light rum for a twist.”
- 4 ounces beet juice
- 2 ounces light rum
- 4 ounces heavy cream
- 2 ounces spiced Demerara syrup (recipe follows)
- In a shaking tin, add all ingredients except half (2 ounces) of the heavy cream.
- Shake until tin is frosted and pour into a small wine glass or Martini glass.
- Float remaining 2 ounces of cream on top.
- Garnish with cinnamon and grated beet.
Ingredients for Spiced Demerara Syrup
- 1 cup Demerara sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ vanilla bean
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Heat water in a saucepan and add sugar and spices over medium high heat.
- Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Strain out spices and let cool.
- Spiced simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two weeks.
The Archipelago Recipe
Developed by: Marv Cunningham
Although this uniquely Bahamian drink takes patience to create, it’d be difficult to pass by a recipe from Marv Cunningham. As an award-winning bartender, owner of Mr. Mix Bahamas, and lead mixologist for the Aura Nightclub at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, he regularly demonstrates a deep-rooted passion and zeal for the culinary and cultural riches of his native country, the Bahamas.
“The Archipelago is a signature tribute cocktail that celebrates Bahamian food and beverage culture,” Cunningham says. He adds that the drink draws inspiration from Bahamian music (Junkanoo and Rake N’ Scrape); the island’s national festival, Goombay; and the island peoples’ traditions and art forms. With the Archipelago, he celebrates Bahamian ingredients, such as nutmeg, coconut, and pineapple.
For the nutmeg-infused gin, Cunningham recommends the following: “When infusing the gin, use two whole nutmegs and your favorite bottle of gin. Crack the nutmeg seeds into two pieces, then drop them into the bottle for an overnight infusion. This allows the gin to extract the nutmeg’s flavors during this period of maceration.”
- 2 ounces (60 ml) nutmeg-infused gin
- 1 ½ ounces (45 ml) coconut jelly purée
- 1 ounce (30 ml) Cocktail Artist Blue Curacao
- 1 ounce (30 ml) coconut water
- 1 ounce (30 ml) pineapple & Scotch bonnet shrub (recipe follows)
- 3 dashes Angostura orange bitters
- Pineapple slice, pineapple leaves, and grated nutmeg for garnish
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and give it a dry shake (shake without ice).
- Add ice to the cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously.
- Strain into a rocks glass with an ice block.
- Top off with crushed ice, and garnish with pineapple slice and leaves.
Ingredients for the Pineapple & Scotch Bonnet Shrub
- 250 grams white sugar
- 3 ounces white vinegar
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped pineapples
- Combine all ingredients in a Mason jar, and stir.
- Leave to marinate for 24 hours.
- Once dissolved, strain thoroughly. Use immediately in your cocktail of choice; or store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
The Calypso Cooler Recipe
Developed by: Raakesh Madoo
Island: Trinidad & Tobago
Raakesh Madoo is a food and beverage lecturer at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute, and a proud Trini with over 24 years in the food and beverage industry. His home, the dual-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, includes African, East Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and European populations, which lends itself to a diversity of cuisine, and plenty of room to play for cocktails and food pairings. The Calypso Cooler is an expert example.
“This recipe was designed and intended to be the perfect aperitif for local Trinidadian cuisine, whose recipes are grounded in grassroots traditions, indigenous ingredients, traditional flavors, and memorable experiences,” Madoo says. “The cocktail, though having nuances of complexity, is low-alcohol. Its cooler underpinnings allows for fantastic results to be achieved when pairing with local Trinidadian dishes like bake and shark, roti, curried crab and dumplings, and corn soup.”
- 1 ½ ounces (45 ml) of mint-infused Old Oak White Rum
- 1 ½ ounces (45 ml) Fernandes cherry brandy
- 1 ounce (30 ml) fresh passion fruit juice
- ½ ounce (15 ml) citrus and bell pepper oleo saccharum
- Freshly grated toasted cinnamon
- 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- 2 dashes homemade pineapple bitters (optional)
- 1 ½ ounces (45 ml) fresh coconut water (for topping)
- Smoke glassware with cinnamon bark and set aside. Suggested glassware: Old Fashioned or goblet.
- Shake all ingredients (except coconut water) in an ice-filled shaker and double-strain into desired glassware filled with frappe ice.
- Top with coconut water
- Garnish with dehydrated orange wheel, mint sprig, and toasted cinnamon stick.
The Nostalgia Recipe
Developed by: Taffy Hodge
For Taffy Hodge, manager and head mixologist at Lit Lounge in Anguilla, it’s the flesh and color of fruits that evoke the spirit of her island, Anguilla. She does this at Lit Lounge by infusing cocktails with combinations such as rum and passion fruit. She also makes her own syrups, including sage, lemongrass and coffee bean. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hodge won the silver medal for best bartender in Anguilla at the “Taste of the Caribbean” Culinary Championships in 2014.
“This cocktail is tamarind based, which is a fruit that grows wild across the island. Its bittersweet qualities evoke the same feelings of nostalgia towards the island as the tamarind juice and syrups that are made at home,” Hodge says. “This combination of wild bittersweet fruit offers a snapshot of Anguilla with its warm and spiced hues that paint the palate.”
- 2 ounces of overproof white rum, such as Sunset
- 5 ounces of tamarind juice
- 1 ½ ounces (45 ml) cinnamon syrup
- Shake all ingredients with ice, then pour into the glass over ice. Suggested glassware: Hurricane or Highball
- Garnish with tamarind balls and a mint sprig
The Ease All Pain Recipe
Developed by: Ira Claxton Jr.
Island: U.S. Virgin Islands
Ira Claxton Jr. is a self-proclaimed foodie and mixologist who has served as a judge of the Caribbean Hotel Tourism Associations’s Taste of the Caribbean for 10 years. He owns The Calypso Epicurean, a hospitality consultancy with an emphasis on catering, bartending, branding and marketing, and event operations.
“Similar to its Painkiller cousin, the Ease All Pain cocktail pairs exceptionally well with seafood dishes, specifically local favorites like steamed or boiled fish with local ground provisions,” Claxton says. “Conch and local spiny lobster pair perfectly with the cocktail’s higher citrus notes, without overpowering or competing with their savory notes. The original Painkiller is a universally recognized bar favorite, which the local islanders here pair well with other staples, such as local patties (seasoned and fried pockets filled with various meats); and ‘Johnny Cakes,’ fried fish, or chicken.”
- 1 ounce (30 ml) Pusser’s Navy Rum (Cruzan Rum produced in St. Croix Gold can be substituted)
- 1/2 ounce (15 ml) Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum
- 3/4 ounce (23 ml) Cruzan Coconut Rum
- 2 ounces (60 ml) Pineapple Juice
- 1 ounce (30 ml) orange juice
- 2/3 dashes of Angostura Orange Bitters
- Combine ingredients in a shaker tin with ice to incorporate spirits and juice, and shake vigorously.
- Strain contents from one shaker tin to the next, discarding ice.
- Immediately “dry shake” cocktail with no ice and double strain into a coupe or Martini glass.
- Garnish with grated fresh coconut and nutmeg, along with an orange wheel.
- For an additional spirit boost, soak 3 Luxardo cherries in Cruzan 151 Overproof Rum for approximately two hours, skewer them, and place atop cocktail width-wise as additional garnish.