Tiki and tropical cocktails may be the classic vacation drink. Often rum-based, they blend seamlessly with the vibrant flavors of coconut, lime, pineapple, and other ingredients.
Contrary to popular belief, the two drinks are not interchangeable. A tiki drink with its distinctive glasses originates in the US. They were created by California bartenders Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s according to how they imagined Polynesia and the Caribbean. Tiki ingredient lists can be long, making a strong yet balanced sipper. Tropical drinks aren’t as strictly defined. Instead, they’re created in the tropics with the fresh ingredients available in the moment. As a result, their flavor is often more fruity and light.
Whichever you choose to experiment with, these tropical and tiki cocktail recipes are sure to impress and refresh.
The classic tiki cocktail isn’t for the faint of heart. According to the Hollywood restaurant that created the Zombie, more than two could make one “like the walking dead.” The Zombie is nevertheless one of the best rum-based cocktails with white, gold, dark, and 151-proof rum, as well as apricot brandy, pineapple juice, and lime juice.
The Jungle Bird is now Malaysia’s national cocktail and the perfect tropical drink for those wanting something a bit different. Campari adds bitterness to the drink that’s rounded out by dark rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, and simple syrup.
The surprising yet balanced riff on the tropical Piña Colada adds a complex spin to the rum-based favorite. The sweetness of the rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut blends seamlessly with the Angostura bitters for a delicious tiki cocktail.
A common tropical cocktail in New Orleans, the Hurricane is a classic rum-based cocktail. It was created during World War II when Caribbean rum was more accessible than whiskey or Cognac. Meant to be savored slowly, it’s a mix of dark and white rum, passion fruit puree, orange juice, simple syrup, and grenadine.
A riff on the tropical Jungle Bird, Show Me State is a frozen tiki cocktail with a mezcal base. With curacao, orange juice, mezcal, lime juice, and simple syrup, it’s a smoky citrus-forward drink that feels like summer.
The national cocktail of Bermuda originated at the oldest pub on the Island, whose motto is “Swizzle Inn, Swagger Out.” Made to be shared, the Rum Swizzle combines dark and gold rum, lemon juice, pineapple juice, falernum, and Angostura bitters for a tropical cocktail that’ll taste like vacation.
The original Suffering Bastard was made with brandy to quell the hangovers of WWII soldiers. It became a success immediately, with soldiers requesting it on the front lines. For the at-home bartender, the Suffering Bastard can easily be converted to a rum-based tiki cocktail with additional lime juice, Angostura, and ginger beer.
A fresh and fruity take on the Piña Colada, the tropical Painkiller originates in the Caribbean. The combination of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut will transport you to vacation, where the everyday troubles and pains melt away.
The Queens Park Swizzle is a refreshing tropical cocktail mix of demerara rum, mint, sugar, lime juice, and Angostura bitters that’s been a Trinidad mainstay for almost a century. The flavor is reminiscent of a Mojito, and the layered effect of swizzling (a tropical way to stir your drink) keeps The Queen Park Swizzle in three color layers.