25 Caribbean Drinks to Try Out on Your Next Caribbean Vacation
Enjoying local food and drinks is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the amazing Caribbean culture, and if you were wondering which Caribbean foods and drinks you simply have to try, you’ve come to the right place.
Chef’s Pencil has worked with a dozen local food and drinks connoisseurs to showcase some of the most popular and delicious Caribbean drinks. Stay tuned for our favorite 25 (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) beverages.
Rum is the quintessential Caribbean spirit and it’s a big part of the local drinking culture. You simply have to try it when visiting these gorgeous islands.
Many countries in the Caribbean proud themselves on producing the best rum in the world.
Jamaican rum is iconic. It is said that Jamaica makes enough rum each year to fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Jamaican rum is rich, strong, and sweet, and is a mind-blowing addition to cocktails and tropical fruit drinks, creating a breezy Jamaican flavor that takes your breath away.
Renowned for having a robust and fruity flavor with an intense and spellbinding aroma, Jamaican rum is special partly because Jamaica has high-quality standards for making their high-quality rum. It is made using all-natural, GMO-free yeast, it is aged in oak barrels, and at no point in the process is sugar or artificial flavor added. All Jamaican rums are naturally sweet as it is illegal to add sugar to them.
Haiti is best known for its Rhum Barbancourt (white rum). It’s a popular Christmas treat in Haiti, but it’s so much more than a local spirit as Rhum Barbancourt is appreciated at an international level. It is translucent and has a delicious sugar cane taste, with citrus, floral and pepper hints.
Cuba is of course famous for its rum brands. Havana Club, a brand founded in 1934, is probably the best known internationally and it’s definitely a must-try when visiting Cuba, especially since you can’t buy it in the United States. Havana Club has a complex aroma with notes of tropical fruits, spices, vanilla, and molasses.
Last but not least, Bacardi, founded in Cuba in 1862, continues to produce some of the finest rums in the world. The famous Bacardi rum is now produced in Puerto Rico in the world’s largest premium rum distillery.
Mauby is a drink that is highly popular in many Caribbean nations from Trinidad & Tobago to Barbados and Guyana. Mauby is made from the bark of a small tree native to the Caribbean and South Florida.
Mauby recipes include cinnamon, star anise, cloves, bay leaves, and sugar. Usually, the drink is fermented using a portion of the previous batch, but you can also find it unfermented.
The flavor is similar to root beer, although it has a slightly bitter aftertaste. But it is quite refreshing when served in a tall glass with ice.
To many people, Mauby is an acquired taste, but do give it a try on your next Caribbean trip.
3. Rum Punch
Rum Punch is a classic, exotic Caribbean drink that is popular throughout the Caribbean. Distinctly tropical, citrusy, cool, and full of sweet excitement, it’s a drink that you simply need to try.
The ingredients are few and simple. The measurements for the iconic Jamaican Rum Punch recipe are 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong and 4 parts weak. That is 1 part fresh lime juice, 2 parts syrup, 3 parts white rum, and 4 parts water.
The water can be substituted for blended juice (pineapple, mango, orange) for a more flavorful punch.
4. Coconut Water
Coconut water has to be the quintessential Caribbean refreshment. The coconut fruit has tons of health benefits since it is packed with electrolytes, vitamins, and other nutrients.
This naturally white fruit is naturally refreshing and has a sweet and nutty taste.
Coconut water comes from the center of a young green coconut. All it takes is a sharp knife or machete to cut a hole in the nut. You can put the coconut straight to your mouth or use a straw. It is definitely a great option for staying hydrated in the hot Caribbean weather.
5. Blue Curaçao
Even if you haven’t heard of the Caribbean island of Curaçao, you will be familiar with Curaçao the liqueur. Blue Curaçao is the pride of Curaçao, now known the world over. Surprisingly, though, the liqueur was discovered by accident.
In the 16th century, Spaniards brought with them Valencia oranges to grow. However, the island’s climate was too dry for these oranges, causing the fruit to dry out and creating a bitter taste. They were given the name laraha.
The dry conditions created a particularly nice-smelling oil in the laraha husks. To make the most of the fruit, they began to improvise with recipes and the well-known Blue Curaçao liqueur was born. It is said that Curaçao has the only distillery in the world making this liqueur with dried laraha peel.
Blue Curaçao is not only tasty, it is also an eye-catcher. The beautiful blue color creates a special moment whenever a glass is served.
Cheers! or, as they say in Papiamentu, Salù!
6. Ponche Crema | Ponche de Crème | Coquito | Kremas
If you’re in the Caribbean in December, make sure to try this delicious drink. It’s called ponche crema in Aruba, ponche de crème in Trinidad and Tobago, coquito in Puerto Rico, ponche crema de ron in the Dominican Republic and kremas in Haiti (for more info check out our story on Haitian drinks).
It’s similar to eggnog and the main ingredients are milk, eggs, sugar, Carribean rum (of course!), and spices such as vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon rind. So drinking this around the holidays will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit!
7. Gourmet Coffee
One of the world’s most expensive coffees, Jamaican Blue Mountain, is made exclusively from arabica beans (typica) grown only at altitudes between 2,000 and 5,000 feet in Jamaica’s Blue Mountain region.
The flavor is rich, strong, and smooth, with hints of chocolate, floral undertones, and a creamy aftertaste. There are no nutty or fruity undertones in this coffee, which is used as the base for Tia Maria liqueur.
The Dominican Republic is also a top producer of high-quality coffee beans and there’s no better place to taste a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
8. Coffee Liqueur
If you mix high-quality coffee and high-quality rum, something delicious must come out of it, right?
Introducing Tia Maria, a dark Jamaican coffee liqueur made using Jamaican coffee beans, rum, sugar, and vanilla beans, blended to an alcoholic content of 20%. Tia Maria is smooth, fragrant, and full-bodied while the usual notes include aromas of vanilla and coffee.
9. Coco Loco (Coconut Cocktail)
This one has to be on your to-drink list when visiting the Dominican Republic. Just imagine yourself on a Dominican beach, with gorgeous, clear blue water, and white sand while you drink this delicious drink straight from a coconut. It’s one of the best drinks to enjoy while relaxing on the beach.
Coco loco is usually made with only two ingredients: coconut and rum. If you want to spice it up, you can add lime juice and tequila and tons of of ice of course.
10. Cuba Libre
If you love cocktails, then you probably can’t picture a Caribbean trip without trying a Cuba libre, made with a high-quality local rum. Nor should you! Life is to be enjoyed, and Cuba libre offers exactly that.
11. Sorrel Drink
This delicious drink originates in West Africa and is made with the flowers of the sorrel plant. It’s popular in many Caribbean islands.
The flowers are boiled with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, star anise, and whole cloves. The liquid is then strained, sweetened, and ready for drinking! This drink has none of the bitterness Mauby has.
It’s light and fresh with the same beautiful reddish, maroon color of the flowers.
12. Sugarcane Juice
The Caribbean is one of the world’s top sugar producers. Sugar is produced from sugarcane, which is a perennial grass that locals also use for snacks or drinks.
Sugarcane juice, also known as cane juice, is a popular drink made with crushed sugarcane. It is delicious, nutritious, and refreshing.
A favorite treat in the Bahamas and on many other Caribbean islands, this famous drink was named after a beach near Santiago de Cuba.
Daiquiri can be made with a host of fruits from mangos, pineapples, to strawberry, coconut, and even bananas. It’s made with white rum (of course!), but you can also find non-alcoholic versions of the drink.
This is a very famous drink in the Dominican Republic, hailed for its aphrodisiac properties and used in a large number of cocktails.
Mamajuana is a mixture of bark and herbs soaked in black rum, red wine, and honey. If you want to get a taste of the real deal Dominican drink, then Mamajuana should be on of your top choices.
14. Golden Apple (June Plum) Juice
Reputedly the best apple juice in Barbados, Golden Apple juice comes from a fruit known as golden apple in Barbados but called Jew plum or June plum in other parts of the Caribbean.
This succulent, seasonal fruit with its sweet-and-sour flesh clinging to a fibrous pit is usually available from September to December. Golden Apple juice is a compellingly tempting complement to any meal, at any time of day.
15. Goombay Smash
This is a tasty cocktail of tropical fruits and flavors that you can find all over the Bahamas. Goombay smash is made with orange and pineapple juice, coconut-flavored rum, and light, gold, and dark rums.
It can be garnished with slices of pineapple or orange. Sip away and let the fruity flavors linger on your tongue.
You can find many different brands of local beers in the Caribbean that are high-quality and worth trying out, such as Presidente in the Dominican Republic, Sands in the Bahamas, Caybrew in the Cayman Islands, Bucanuero Forte in Cuba, Red Stripe and Dragon Stout in Jamaica, or Carib in Trinidad & Tobago.
So you can safely avoid the international imports and try a locally brewed beer.
17. Tamarind Drink
To visit Guyana and not allow the invigorating tamarind drink to titillate your palate with its uniquely tingling sensations would be a grave error.
Guyanese tamarind drink is a tart, highly refreshing drink with a distinctive, juicy, acidic sourness; and yet a tangy, captivating sweetness. It’s a thirst quencher second to none on a hot and humid Guyanese day.
If you plan on visiting Guyana, check out our story on the most popular Guyanese drinks.
18. Cocoa Tea
Have you ever tried Saint Lucia’s cocoa tea? It is a delicious, hot cocoa drink with a spellbinding aroma and a rich, creamy, other-worldly flavor that truly reflects the addictive allure of the authentic Caribbean lifestyle.
19. Limeade (Switcha)
Limes grow a-plenty in the Caribbean and they are the main ingredient for a delicious limeade (yes, the lime version of the lemonade)! All it takes is fresh limes, sugar, and water.
For a Bahamian spin, add ginger, mint, grapefruit, or rum. It is a much-needed cool drink in a tropical climate.
20. Irish Moss
Irish moss is made from the algae of the same name, introduced to Jamaica by Irish immigrants. To prepare the beverage, the moss is washed and boiled with milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Variations include the addition of condensed milk, oats, or peanuts.
21. Ròm Bèrdè (Green Rum)
The bright green of this delicious rum is very distinctive. The recipe is a secret, but contains anise and lime. This rum is available in various places, but if you want to experience the real Curaçao green rum, you have to go to a well-known snack bar in the Otrobanda district. You can drink ròm bèrde plain or mix it in a cocktail.
This delicious rum is aged underground and gives off a fruity aroma. Pitorro has been part of Puerto Rican tradition for decades. Principally made from sugar cane, incorporating fruits, nuts, and citrus, it is fermented, distilled, and aged for over a year. It is produced clandestinely and illegally. A legal version, however, was produced and sold by El Coquí distillery, located in Mayagüez, a town located on the west coast.
Pitorro comes in many flavors such as coconut, almond, acerola, pistachio, passion fruit, and tamarind. If there is no Pitorro, it is not a Puerto Rican Christmas party!
23. Sky Juice
This Bahamian cocktail is also known as gully wash and dates back to the 1920s when America’s Prohibition was in full swing and rum-running was common practice.
Sky juice is made with coconut water, sweetened condensed milk, and, most abundantly of all, gin. This cool drink makes a great pair with conch fritters.
24. Rum Cream
Rum cream such as Jamaican Sangster’s Rum Cream are popular liqueurs in the Caribbean.
A superb blend of premium aged rum and rich, fresh cream with just a hint of exotic fruits and spices, it is the perfect combination of elegant refinement and tropical glamour – creamy and smooth, with subtle nuances of coffee, toffee, and nuts.
25. Ginger Beer
Homemade ginger beer is a popular drink throughout the Caribbean. It is made by soaking grated ginger, clove, cinnamon, and orange peel in water.
There are many different recipes for ginger beer, some with a longer fermentation period than others. But the drink is always served cold, ideally with a good portion of ice.
26. Peanut Punch
Peanut punch is made with peanut butter (or roasted peanuts), water, condensed milk, and flavorings such as vanilla, nutmeg, honey, and cinnamon. Many Jamaicans consider it an aphrodisiac, and some street vendors add local seaweed and oats to enhance its potency.
The Caribbean is a culturally diverse region where the existence of a multiplicity of ethnic groups has resulted in a veritable smorgasbord of delightfully delectable dishes and tantalizing beverages. It is almost futile to speak of a singular Caribbean cuisine, as the range of treats is as far-flung as the islands that, for the most part, comprise the region.
These countries will inevitably share some of the same delicacies and tasty drinks; but invariably, there’s a special ingredient here, a secret formula there, and an indigenous method elsewhere that will make a meal unique to that country.
Caribbean foods and drinks are very flavorful – pampering the most discerning palate and exciting the most stoical of senses. But you will never know unless you taste and see.