Top 10 Jamaican Drinks (Cocktails & Recipes)

The hot and humid weather of Jamaica can easily have you thirsting for a drink. You’ll find most Jamaicans quenching their thirst with a bottle or can of Red Stripe-Jamaica’s favorite beer. Red Stripe will effortlessly make it to any top ten listings of crisp and crunchy lagers.

However, rum wins hands down as Jamaica’s alcoholic drink of choice as cane sugar is the Caribbean island country chief export item. The locals love to experiment with rum, cocktailing the spirit with a wide variety of drinks. No wonder, you’ll come across several punchy cocktails fortified with rum that bartenders serve in watering holes throughout Jamaica.

So, if you’re a spirit enthusiast, then don’t limit yourself to just Red Stripes, ginger beer, or Sorrel Tea. Go the whole hog by experimenting with Rum Punch, Bob Marley, Dirty Banana, and Jamaican Zombie. Here’s the lowdown on Jamaica’s top ten alcoholic cocktails and recipes.

Classic Jamaican Rum Punch

The classic Jamaican Rum Punch also referred to as Planter’s Punch happens to be the island nation’s favorite cocktail. Popular as Bajan Punch in Barbados, the quintessential Planter’s Punch must blend Jamaican rum, pineapple juice, grenadine syrup, and orange juice. The inclusion of lime, pineapple or orange juice imparts to the cocktail a fruity flavor.

The dark red color comes from the grenadine syrup which also imbues the drink with a refreshing and invigorating sweetness. Jamaican Rum Punch came into being in mid-1600s when British sailors from India started adding locally produced rum to their drink blended with five ingredients. Every Caribbean island has its rum punch variety, but the Jamaican Rum Punch beats them all in terms of popularity.

Dirty Banana

Another of Jamaica’s popular spirit offerings, the Dirty Banana cocktail blends banana, coffee-flavored liqueur (Kahlua), and rum. The ingredients are transferred to a cocktail glass containing a dash of chilled cream. You can also substitute the milk cream with Bailey’s Irish cream or coconut milk cream.

For best results, make sure you use the base ingredients, but you can always improvise with ingredients. For preparing Dirty Banana, you’d need a ripe banana, 2 tbsp whole milk, 1 oz light cream, ¾ banana-flavored liqueur, ¾ oz Kahlua (or any other coffee-flavored liqueur), one-and-a-half oz white rum, and ¼-1/2 cup ice cubes.

Transfer the ice cubes into a blender. Add the other ingredients, put the lid, and blend until the concoction becomes pulverized. Pour the blend into a small cocktail or martini glass. Slice a banana into equal portions and wedge one or two slices onto the glass rim, and you’re ready to go.

Purple Rain

The Purple Rain cocktail usually refers to two drinks prepared using different ingredients. The more popular drink tends to be a deviation of the ‘Long Island Iced Tea’ that uses ‘triple sec’ in place of Chambord and lime soda for cola. The variation popular in Jamaica uses vodka, cranberry juice, blue Curacao liqueur, grenadine, and lemonade.

Fill half of a cocktail shaker or blender with ice. Measure the ingredients, and transfer them to the shaker. Close the shaker, and shake vigorously for half a minute. Throw some ice cubes to a Tom Collins or highball glass, and transfer the mixture from the shaker to the glass. As grenadine is added last, its descent through the rest of the ingredients produces a semblance of purplish rain-hence the name.

Bob Marley

It’s a no brainer that Jamaicans named one of their favorite drinks after the legendary Bob Marley. A shot of Bob Marley comprises of three distinct layers with colors identical that of the Rastafarian pendant. Rastafarianism is an Abrahamic religion that originated in Jamaica, and the colors of the flag are green, golden, and red.

You can either enjoy a flaming or frozen version of the drink. If you so prefer, the bartender can light up your drink, but you need to be careful, especially if this is your first shot. Common ingredients include light rum, orange curacao, blue curacao, fresh mango, lime juice, strawberry daiquiri mix, sweet and sour mix.

Jamaican Zombie

A variety of rums, liqueurs, and fruit juices go into making the Jamaican zombie. The cocktail shared its name with a village in San Francisco and was first made by Donn Beac, an American adventurer in 1934. Three different types of rums-Puerto Rican golden rum, Jamaican rum, and Demerara 151 rum are used for preparing Jamaican zombie.

Other ingredients include grapefruit juice, cinnamon syrup, lime juice, grenadine, absinthe, and angostura bitters.

Jamaican Bobsleigh

A beefed up version of the Cuban cocktail daiquiri, Jamaican Bobsled makes the most of pineapple and lime juices. For making a perfect shot, blend 1/1/2 oz of golden rum, 1/1/2 tbsp of lime juice, pineapple juice, cinnamon syrup, and allspice dram. Transfer the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake for 30 seconds.

Place a strainer atop the cocktail glass and pour the blend slowly. Add some crushed ice and start sipping.

Jamaican Crawler Cocktail

The invigorating flavors of pineapple and melon contribute towards making the Jamaican crawler cocktail a heady drink. One ounce each of light (white rum) rum, pineapple juice, and melon liqueur are added to a dash of grenadine. You need to pour the ingredients into a Tom Collins glass and add the grenadine at last.

Moscow Mule aka Ginger Beer & Rum

Jamaicans mix ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice for preparing Moscow Mule. Mint leaves or a slice of lime wedged atop a copper mug, serve as popular garnishing. The cocktail has no connection with mules or the Russian capital, but following a few sips, you won’t care.

Caribbean Delight

Many Jamaicans celebrate Good Friday and Easter by sipping on Caribbean Delight. The cocktail uses Appleton rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, a slice of lime, and Blackberry brandy as ingredients. Just pour the ingredients into a shaker, put some crushed ice, and shake for half a minute.

Pour the mixture into a highball glass and fix a cherry on the glass rim for garnish.

Old Jamaican Cocktail

An old-fashioned Jamaican cocktail always has 12 or 18 years old Jamaican rum, sugar, angostura bitters, and water as ingredients. You add all the ingredients in a shaker and put some crushed ice. After shaking the blend, you filter the blend into a Tom Collins or highball glass, and a mint sprig as garnish.