Joaquín Simó’s Kingston Negroni was an instant classic. His first stab at incorporating funky Jamaican rum into the Negroni template went on to become a runaway success and is now riffed on at bars across the U.S. The equal-parts, three-ingredient cocktail not only illuminates how well rum plays in the stirred format, but also exemplifies the way tropical flavors can seamlessly tie into the category of brooding, bitter cocktails that sometimes feel a world apart. If the mashup of Italian drinking culture and tropical flavors gave us aperitiki, then the Kingston Negroni and other bitter, stirred drinks with a tropical twist may have birthed “digestiki,” the after-dinner side of the coin. To get to know the genre, here are the recipes to try.
Giffard’s Banane du Brésil has been the go-to liqueur to put a tropical tinge on a classic, from Daiquiris to Old-Fashioneds. The Banana Boulevardier (dubbed Bananavardier by some) is no exception. What started at Anvil in Houston as a 50/50 shot, made with Campari and the last dregs of the liqueur in a bottle, became a breakthrough: The two complemented each other perfectly, then became co- stars of this bittersweet, fruit-forward drink.
Named after a soccer idiom—“A side’s ‘away colors’ is the uniform they wear when visiting an opponent’s stadium,” explains Zack Gelnaw-Rubin, the drink’s creator—the Away Colors is a nod to tropical flavors finding their way across continents and meridians, “playing away from home.” It combines añejo rum (“the drier the better—going for that ‘licked-envelope’ taste,” says Gelnaw-Rubin), fernet and banana liqueur, and serves as an ideal minty after-dinner drink.
The Leeward Negroni from San Francisco’s Pacific Cocktail Haven also takes the Italian classic to the tropics, this time through an easy-to-make pandan cordial. The green leaves offer a nutty, herbaceous flavor that harmonizes with the drink’s tiki bitters, which bring cinnamon and allspice to the fore. Named after the term used for the side of an island sheltered from the wind, this gin cocktail transcends seasons, and its cordial can bring a touch of coconut-like complexity to a range of drinks.