The influence of the Caribbean on cocktails is undeniable: Since the early 20th century, when many of these recipes were mixed into fruition, island-born beverages have been working their way into the canon of land-locked classic drinks. With their inherently beach-side flavors, all bright citrus and mellow spirits, these recipes demand to be drunk during the heat of late summer.
There are the Cuban staples—the Mojito, Cuba Libre and the Hemingway Daiquiri—all of them reflective of different times in Havana’s history, as well as the legacy of one of the world’s most legendary drinkers; Bermuda’s Dark ‘n’ Stormy and its brooding, bitters-spiked cousin, the Corn ‘n’ Oil; and, of course, Martinique’s answer to the Old-Fashioned: the Ti’ Punch, one of the most under-appreciated classic drinks.
The Caribbean has also become a feeder for some of the most beloved tiki drinks, from the Virgin Islands’ Painkiller to the West Indies’ Planter’s Punch to the Trader Vic’s original, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. And while the exact origins of the rum- and Champagne-spiked Airmail are difficult to pinpoint—the recipe first appeared in Bacardi pamphlets from the 1930s—there’s no denying it was inspired by the tropics.
Whether the modern tropical drink boom sticks or fades, these Caribbean classics have proven that they have staying power—and an uncanny ability to provide escape through that simple, winning combination of citrus and rum.