Tropical Cocktail Party Recipes
Celebrate summer the way it’s meant to be—with a tiki-inspired beverage in hand. All the rage during the mid-twentieth century, the usually rum-heavy, tropical cocktails have made a comeback.
Want to host a tiki night at home? Click here for advice on throwing a mid-century luau.
Capturing all that is great about tiki culture, this rum-heavy sip holds some serious clot in mixologist circles: the classic long drink is one of the International Bartenders Association’s “Unforgettable” cocktails. Grab some tropical fruit, the mini paper umbrella, and start shakin’.
- 1 1/2 oz. dark rum
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
- 2/3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 oz. grenadine
- 1/3 oz. sugar syrup
- 3 to 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- Cherries or sliced pineapple for garnish
Pour all ingredients, except bitters, into a shaker filled with ice, and shake well. Pour into Collins glass filled with ice. Add Angostura bitters on top. Garnish with cocktail cherry and pineapple.
The Nui Nui is a classic tiki cocktail. Originally hailing from Don the Beachcomber, circa 1937, with a tropical backbone, the key ingredient in this recipe is Allspice Dram, a spicy add that really gives the drink its character. This is a hard-to-find barroom addition, with St. Elizabeth’s making the best on the market. If all else fails, below is a recipe for a DIY Allspice Dram. (Be warned: This is a time-consuming project that requires a few weeks to settle for best flavor.) But if you are serious about your tiki drinks, then Allspice Dram is a must for the bar—a strong and spicy counterpoint to rum and the typically sweet, tropical ingredients.
- 4 oz. aged Virgin Islands rum
- 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp. Allspice Dram*
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 8 oz. crushed ice
Place all ingredients in blender and blend until frothy. Pour into two Collins glasses and crushed ice to fill. Garnish with an orange wedge or peel. Huli Pau! (Bottoms Up!)
DIY Allspice Dram (for the truly dedicated)
- 1 cup light rum
- 1/4 cup whole allspice berries
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
Crush allspice berries to a coarse consistency. Put berries in a Ball jar, pour in rum, shake, seal and let the mixture steep for two to four days, agitating and shaking daily. After steeping, break up the cinnamon stick and add to the mixture; let sit for another 10 days.
After steeping, strain out allspice and cinnamon (a coffee filter will help remove the tiny pieces) into a jar.
In a medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat, dissolving sugar. Let cool, and then add to strained allspice syrup. Shake and let sit for another day or two before using. Makes about three cups.
Back from the Dead
Much like tiki culture is experiencing a resurrection, so to is the Zombie. First presented at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Zombie quickly became a household favorite. With its Beachcomber roots, it became a mainstay of the tiki movement in the 1950s, when paper umbrellas and hurricane glasses were a must for every well-stocked bar.
Today, the Zombie has maintained that “freak” of the tiki sips, finding new footing at Polynesian-themed backyard barbecues. Below is the most common Zombie recipe around. It drops a few of Don the Beachcomber’s more unusual ingredients for a more straightforward booze blast to the brain. Enjoy, followed by water.
Zombie, circa 1950s
- 1 1/2 oz. dark rum
- 3/4 oz. white rum
- 3/4 oz. spiced rum
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 3/4 oz. pineapple juice
- 3/4 oz. papaya juice
- 1/4 oz. simple syrup
- 1 dash of Angostura bitters
- 1/4 oz. 151 proof rum
Stir all ingredients, except 151, and pour into a Collins/Zombie glass half full of cracked ice. Float 151 on top. If you’re feeling froggy, light this bad boy on fire; if not, garnish with some fruit, either a lemon or pineapple wedge, and maraschino cherries.
When talking tiki and cocktails, the Piña Colada is usually the first on most minds. A true classic of the bar scene, especially for those living south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the Piña Colada has become one of the most popular blended cocktails in the country. But where did it come from?
As with most old-timey cocktails—anything invented before the 1980s—the origin story is usually shrouded in mystery, and probably wrong. So with that said, the most popular story behind the Piña Colada falls with the Beachcomber Bar at San Juan’s Caribe Hilton in 1954 (the resort now boasts the Piña Colada Club in place of the old Beachcomber). The story goes that Ramon “Monchito” Marrero created the cocktail while bartending at the posh resort.
Determined to capture the true flavor and vibe of Puerto Rico, Marrero spent three months of extensive “research and development” to nail down the recipe. And nail it he did: in 1978, Puerto Rico named the Piña Colada the official national drink.
Want to try it? Here’s the official, original Piña Colada recipe, courtesy of the Caribe Hilton. Enjoy!
The Original Piña Colada
- 2 oz. white rum
- 1 oz. coconut cream
- 1 oz. heavy cream
- 6 oz. fresh pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup crushed ice
Add the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice together in a blender. Add the ice and blend for about 15 seconds or until smooth. Serve in a 12-ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.