With swizzle sticks, mini umbrellas, and generous amounts of rum, tiki drinks are a fun way to get a buzz when the weather is warm. Popularized in the mid-twentieth century by bars like Trader Vic’s, the tiki craze went through somewhat of a decline but is now making a comeback. There’s something to be said for going to a gaudy, over-the-top tiki bar on a beach, but you can also make great tiki drinks at home.
One classic tiki drink is the Mai Tai, which though it’s associated with Hawaii, it was actually created in San Francisco. Our version mixes dark rum with grassy rhum agricole, along with orange Curaçao, orgeat, lime juice, and simple syrup to make a fruity. Our recipe for the Dragon 88 Mai Tai starts similarly but adds amber rum and citrusy Velvet Falernum to make an even boozier drink.
Another tiki classic is the daiquiri. While a traditional daiquiri is a simple mix of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, we have festival variations packed with blackberries, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, mango, and even heavy cream.
Of course, there’s more to tropical drinking than rum-packed tiki drinks. Few things taste better on the beach than a frozen margarita. We have a traditional lime version, as well as a vibrantly colored twist made with pickly pear.
If you prefer a rocks drink to a frozen one, try our Ho’opono Potion. It’s a bracing, complex cocktail made with cucumber, tequila, fresh lime juice, and Aperol. Or, for another tequila drink, the Soul Train mixes tequila with lime and grapefruit juice and, for a unique kick, a cardamom simple syrup.
Find all these recipes and more in our collection of tropical cocktail recipes!
If You Like Piña Colada
Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison Park crafted this cocktail in honor of our 21st birthday, inspired by SAVEUR’s global influence. “While your average 21-year-old is spending their birthday getting a little too familiar with Jagermeister and Miller High-Life—not that there’s anything wrong with that—SAVEUR has already been around the world,” he says. “She’s sampled the best, and is hungry for more. Here, a perfect blend of some lesser-seen players: spicy rye, robust and savory-spiced velvet falernum, ancient and unapologetically vegetal green Chartreuse, and Linie aquavit, a spirit that, amazingly enough, has actually sailed around the world, aging in oak sherry casks to the rhythm of the rolling waves. Coconut, lime, and pineapple tie the package together; a somewhat more civilized yet totally delicious way to celebrate one’s twenty-first year.” Get the recipe for If You Like Piña Colada »
No Bananas Today
This sophisticated take on a banana daiquiri combines Giffard Crème de Banane du Brezil, a banana liqueur made from macerated bananas, with two types of rum and a homemade banana syrup to make a deeply flavored drink that’s not too sweet.
Cacao Fruit Cocktail
Puréed cacao pulp meets cachaça in this unexpected sipper. Tart lemon provides a burst of freshness, while a splash of sparkling wine adds lift.
Prince of Wales
Sweet champagne, muddled pineapple, and warming rye whiskey form the basis for this pre-Prohibition era cocktail.
Agricole rum, made from fresh sugarcane, adds rich flavor to a fruity frozen drink.
This fruity frozen daiquiri becomes dessert-like with the addition of heavy cream.
Frozen Piña Colada
A poolside classic, this blended coconut cooler is heightened with a splash of aromatic bitters.
The prickly pear cactus thrives in the deserts of the American Southwest; its bulbous red fruit is prized for many Mexican and Tex-Mex preparations. This legendary margarita, which takes its distinctive flavor from the fruit, comes from bartender Ruben Bernal at Las Canarias restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.
Cardamom-lemongrass syrup lends a bit of Thai spice to a fresh cocktail made with rum and coconut.
Happy hour tastes like paradise with this bracing cocktail of cucumber, tequila, fresh lime juice, and a touch of bitter Aperol.
This creative drink is a citrusy marriage of cognac and Hawaiian vodka sweetened with passion fruit syrup.
Invented circa 1915 by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel, this sweet drink has become a beachside classic on beaches worldwide.
The flavors of ruby port and cognac grow even more profound when fired up in this orange juice-laced drink.
With its deep, sweet mango flavor offset by coconut rum and bright lime juice, slushy frozen daiquiris are perfect for any beachside getaway.
This heady tropical cocktail gets its earthy undertones from creme de cacao.
This alternative to rum and Coke uses lighter, brighter grapefruit soda to let the bold character of a pot-distilled English-style rum shine through.
Petit Punch Vieux
Benjamin Jones of Clement rum distillery in Martinique shared his recipe for this cool, bracing cocktail, his country’s national drink.
This contemporary tiki cocktail contains a bright mix of fresh fruit juice, syrups, and rums.
The King Family Fortune
The King Family Fortune invokes the tropics with pineapple juice, grenadine, and vanilla vodka.
Dark or white rum may be substituted for any of the rums in this recipe from LA’s Tiki-Ti bar.
Pisco Sour Slushy
Made with the South American grape brandy that’s popular in Chile and Peru, the pisco sour makes for a salty, sweet, tart, and beautiful sorbet.
This simple drink is nothing more than demerara rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.
We based this rum cocktail on one from Ray Buhen’s Tiki-Ti, a Los Angeles bar that opened in 1961.
Made with the South American spirit pisco, the Snake Eyes Cocktail has a tropical edge thanks to passion fruit and mango, and ends with an unexpected kick—muddled jalapeño lends it some serious fire.
Kaffir Lime Sour with Ginger
This tart, spiced cocktail, the winner of our 2011 Home Cook Challenge Cocktail contest, was inspired by a cocktail that winner Mo Lyon sampled at Seattle’s now-closed Licorous. It’s Thai-inspired flavors pair beautifully with Southeast Asian food; it’s also perfect on its own as an afternoon sipper.
In 1971 Mariano Martinez figured out how to make frozen margaritas from a soft serve ice cream machine—the rest is history. We recommend using Herradura Silver Tequila for this refreshing variation.
Punch Romaine, a rum-spiked shaved-ice palate cleanser served to first class passengers during the fateful last dinner aboard the Titanic on April 14th, 1912, was based on a recipe from famed French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, who championed alcoholic shaved ices during the early twentieth century. The original recipe, essentially a granita, is updated here as a drinkable, citrusy cocktail poured over an iceberg of crushed ice.