Island Libations
Thirsty in the Bahamas? Then ya best tink rum, mon.
By Alex Suescun

A friendly bartender at Caerula Mar Club helps the author pick the best cocktails in the Bahamas. Someone had to!

So you’re finally heading to the Bahamas for a much needed attitude adjustment. You’ll hit the flats, stalk bonefish, enjoy the sun’s warmth, and then chill back at the lodge, exchanging fish tales with fellow fly anglers over tropical drinks. But when it comes to cocktails, it always pays to remember where you are. If it’s the Bahamas, consider for instance that tequila isn’t as widely available as rum there. So if you’re craving something cold and tangy that goes down easy and will have you feeling no pain after a couple of rounds, forget the margaritas and go with rum-based choices that won’t make the bartender’s eyes glaze over when you order.

Since some fishing lodges have a DIY-style bar where you’ll find the booze and mixers to prepare your own drinks, we’re providing the recipes to four Bahamian cocktails most people find both thirst quenching and positively scrumptious. Just remember to add ice. The little umbrellas? Well, I suppose you could pack some in your carryon.

Bahama Mama

A cocktail that just screams Caribbean island, the Bahama Mama combines tropical juices with enough rum to knock you on your butt, if you’re not careful

Perhaps the cocktail most requested by visitors in the Bahamas, after the piña colada, this popular libation is said to have been christened after a 1930s calypso singer that went by the stage name Bahama Mama.

The recipe includes three kinds of rum, so keep in mind this one packs a good punch. The mixing begins with 2 ounces of Myers spiced rum (Captain Morgan will do in a pinch), to which you add 1 ounce of Bacardi Superior rum (or another premium white rum) and 1 ounce of coconut rum. Your mixers are a splash of orange and pineapple juices, and a splash of grenadine, if available.

For that exotic island presentation, top with some toasted coconut and hang a wedge of orange or pineapple on the rim of the glass.

Goombay Smash

Putting smiles on folks visiting the islands for more than half a century, the Goombay Smash remains a quintessential Bahamian cocktail.

Created in the 1960s by Emily Cooper (Miss Emily) at the Blue Bee Bar in New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay, the Goombay Smash has many of the same ingredients used for other Bahamian cocktails, and for good reason: they are fairly easy to find in the islands. And yes, just like the Bahama Mama, this one calls for three kinds of rum.

Bacardi Superior (or a reasonable substitute), 2 ounces of it, is the main one, but then you add 1 ounce of coconut rum, and 1 ounce of Myers spiced rum, which can also be replaced by a similar alternative. Next, add a splash of orange and pineapple juices, and you got yourself a smashing libation to help push work and other troubles to the furthest recesses of your mind..

You could garnish with a mint leaf and lemon wedge if you intend to serve this at a party or the weekend cocktail hour.

Paradise Dream

Two kinds of rum, fruit juices and some bitters is exactly what Paradise Dreams are made off.

The earliest known recipe in-print for this cocktail was written by Harry Craddock in 1930. It calls for using gin and apricot brandy (or liqueur), but a version with rum and tropical fruit juices is definitely more appropriate for the Bahamas, and you’re more likely to find the necessary ingredients at many of the fishing lodges or nearby liquor stores.

Again, you start with 2 ounces of Bacardi Superior rum (or an alternate brand), add 1 ounce of coconut rum, then a splash of orange and pineapple juices, and end with a splash of bitters. If you’re making this at home, feel free to garnish with toasted coconut and an orange wedge to wow family and friends.

Sunsent Caerula

While not a classic Bahamian drink, the clean, refreshing taste of the Sunset Caerula made it one of our favorites. It’s also a good choice for those not enamored with rum.

A signature cocktail at Caerula Mar Club in Driggs Hill, south Andros, this concoction was mixed for us by Shenequia Smith, the bartender at the resort’s poolside bar. Judging by the number of requests from bikini-clad ladies lounging around the pool and from anglers returning from a day on the flats, it’s a definite crowd pleaser. It certainly was a hit with us.

Surprisingly, rum is not required for this cocktail. Instead, 2 ounces of vodka provide the desired effect. And you actually start with some muddled strawberries and cucumber, which require you to place them in the glass first and press them firmly against the bottom in a twisting motion to push out the juices before adding the rest of the ingredients. A special muddling tool resembling a tiny billy club is normally used for this task, but a spoon suffices.

Once that’s accomplished, pour in the vodka, followed by 1 ounce of grapefruit juice, and finish with a splash of club soda or seltzer. 

Alex Suescun

Alex grew up chasing bonefish, redfish, snook, tarpon, permit and other saltwater species in South Florida’s fabled waters and then broadened his pursuit of gamefish to the Caribbean, and Central and South America. His career in sportfishing began in 1991 as Assistant Editor of Saltwater Fly Fishing magazine, working with the likes of Lefty Kreh, Flip Pallot, Stu Apte, Chico Fernandez, Nick Curcione and Ed Jaworowski. He later hosted and produced his own TV fishing show, Tarpon Bay Tales, for 11 seasons. And after an 8-year stint as Executive Editor of Salt Water Sportsman, Alex joined the team at Fly Fishing International.