Once your vacation countdown gets to zero, when does it really hit you that you’re on holiday? Is it when your plane takes off from your home airport, or, when you land and all the locals on board start clapping? Maybe it’s when you finally get to see your hotel room, and ooh and ahh over the decor and the view. No doubt, you feel it the first time you go to a bar or restaurant and ask for a cocktail, something local. It comes out in a chic glass, ice cubes tinkling, and after that first sip, you sigh, “Ahh!” Your cares are a thousand miles away. Well, we want to help you recreate that feeling, even if you can’t come and see us in person this summer. Here are five Bahamian cocktails that you can try at home.
Sky juice by First Order Gin
Sky juice, also known as Gully Wash, is so popular that our very own Baha Men wrote a song about it called “Gin and Coconut Water”. The chorus tells you some of the ingredients: “Gin and coconut water, gin and coconut water, gin and coconut water cannot get it in America”. Aside from your favourite gin and the freshest coconut water you can find – chunks of coconut welcome! – you’ll need sweetened condensed milk and a dash of nutmeg. Sky juice has a creamy, dreamy coconut flavour and is a must-have at Bahamian homecomings, regattas and fairs. We’ll warn you now to sip slowly, because its sweetness lulls many into a false sense of security, and sky juice packs a punch.
A take-home bottle of Miss Emily’s Goombay smash, from Rum Therapy
Only a handful of people know the true recipe for goombay smash, a cocktail created by Miss Emily at her Blue Bee Bar in the 1960s. Miss Emily’s daughter Violet is now running the Blue Bee, where they still serve this fruity, rum-based drink. You’re welcome to travel to Green Turtle Cay in Abaco to try the original, but until then, feel free to experiment with a combination of fruit juices and rum on your own.
Although there may not be one official recipe, the basic idea of a goombay smash is to combine flavours from coconut, pineapple, orange juice and rum. The final step is to shake everything together – at the Blue Bee they use a one-gallon plastic bottle – to produce the drink’s signature foam. As for the word goombay, it’s the name for a genre of Bahamian music that was in its heyday around the same time this cocktail was created.
Bahama mama by White on Rice Couple
Even if you’re reading about sky juice and goombay smash for the first time, you’ve probably heard about the Bahama mama. This pretty pink cocktail is made with four types of alcohol. You’ll need three kinds of rum – try light, dark and coconut – plus a coffee liqueur. These are mixed with pineapple juice and typically grenadine, lime or lemon juice. Once mixed, spruce up your glass with a slice of pineapple or orange. We won’t think you’re doing too much if you decide to throw in a paper umbrella either.
yellow bird by Make Life Special
The yellow bird has the most romantic history of all the cocktails on this list. In 1883, Haitian poet Oswald Durand wrote a poem named Choucoune about a woman by the same name. This was soon turned into a song, and then inspired an English version, with slightly different lyrics and the title, “Yellow Bird.” From the song came the cocktail, a blend of citrus fruit, rum and banana liqueur.
rum punch by Lemons for Lulu
Are you wondering what something as obvious as rum punch is doing on this list? Well, it has a reputation for being the go-to tropical drink for a reason! Bahamian parties aren’t complete without gallon jugs of fruit punch,” leaded” (meaning with alcohol) and ”unleaded,” on the table. Until they’re of age, children drink the unleaded version and leave the leaded punch for the adults.
Rum punch is typically made with pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine syrup and at least one kind of rum. Of course, the ratio of juice to rum is up to you, as is the type and numbers of rum you’d like to use. Blending a light and dark rum, or regular and coconut, will give your punch a richer flavour. It’s also common to mix in other kinds of juice, like lime, cherry or grapefruit.
Now you know, Bahamians like their drinks sweet and fruity and appreciate the versatility of rum. Mix up one of these cocktails after a long day at work, or to add a little island flair to your next dinner party. Speaking of dinner parties, if you’d like some meal ideas, check out our list of four classic Bahamian dishes you can definitely make at home!