Have you ever sat at a beach (or pool) bar, drink in hand, sun beaming on your back and wondered where the shell that drink got its name? Even if you haven’t, sit tight because we’re sharing some cool origin stories of our favorite cocktails from the Caribbean.
Margarita – Mexico
We wanted to believe the stories about the drink being named after a woman (because who doesn’t love romance), but the truth behind this name is much simpler. During the Prohibition years, some Americans got their alcohol fix south of the border. The Daisy, a popular brandy-based cocktail, was remade with tequila and the name was changed to Margarita because, you guessed it, that’s the Spanish translation of “daisy.”
Piña Colada – Puerto Rico
Remembering the words to “The Piña Colada Song” is easy, but figuring out where this tasty drink got its start? Not so much. Early versions of this cocktail can be traced back to the 17th century, but finding the creator of the modern piña colada is where things get milky. The Caribe Hilton in San Juan swears they created the drink in 1954, but so does Restaurant Barrachina, only they claim to have done so in 1963. How about we all just agree that piña coladas are delicious?
Blue Curaçao – Curaçao
Sometimes you just have to try something until it sticks. Take Blue Curaçao, for example. Fifteenth-century Spanish colonizers tried to grow Valencia oranges in Curaçao and failed. But someone got the idea to make an essence from the peels, thus creating Curaçao liqueur, which is not traditionally blue in color. The color came about in the ’90s, when being blue was all the rage (if you were green you would die). European manufacturers started adding blue coloring to the liqueur and it’s been that way ever since.
Cayman Mudslide: Grand Cayman
The story of the mudslide is one of innovation. Wreck Bar at Rum Point Club claims to have created this cocktail in the ‘70s out of necessity. Their legend has it that guests came to the bar and asked for a white Russian cocktail. The bartender at the time was not familiar with the drink and asked for the ingredients: vodka, Kahlua and cream. Since they didn’t have cream, the bartender decided to use Bailey’s Irish cream and, thus, the mudslide was born.
Rum Punch: Barbados
Mount Gay Rum, one of the oldest distilleries in the Caribbean has been open since 1703. It’s no coincidence that Barbados also has one of the oldest rum punch recipes in the world. When the British landed on the island in the 17th century, they brought with them a love for Indian punch–made with alcohol, sugar, lemon, water and tea. It was only a matter of time before people started mixing it with rum.
Rum Swizzle: Bermuda
Often referred to as Bermuda’s national drink, the Rum Swizzle gets its name from how it’s traditionally made–using a swizzle stick! The swizzle stick tree is native to many Caribbean islands and has finger-like prongs that are perfect for stirring. Locals would use these sticks to mix their beverage, and the bark from the tree would give off a slightly bitter flavor. Now that using the actual stick is less common, bitters are added for flavor.
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