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Tropical cocktails to sweeten up your summer

Tropical drinks can be just the ticket in the summer, whether you're on a boat, at the beach, or chilling on your stoop. Check out our recipe ideas and get hot tips on cool summer drinks.

June 02, 2021

Tropical Cocktail with Pineapple Garnish

Tiki cocktails. Boat drinks. Beach drinks. Whatever you call them, sometimes you just need to infuse your summertime with rum, fruit juice and sunshine. So let's slow down, pull up a hammock, and let's gather the ingredients for the best summer ever, garnished with a little bit of sunshine and your favorite yacht rock playlist.

What is a tropical drink?

You can often recognize a tropical cocktail by the little paper umbrella sticking up out of the top, often adorned by pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries. If we're getting more technical, think of drinks with tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, coconut, mango and citrus - or even something as simple as a splash of grenadine (the real stuff made with pomegranate). Rum is often in the mix, sometimes more than one kind, but you can find delicious drinks with whiskey, brandy and vodka too. Some, like the Pina Colada, are often blended and served frozen, while tiki-influenced drinks like a Mai Tai or Scorpion Bowl are known to pack a boozy wallop without tasting too strong.

Speaking of tiki, that particular subset of tropical drinks also tends to integrate a little spice or other non-traditional flavors into their drinks, with the warm clove, lime and ginger flavors of Velvet Falernum and the orange & almond kiss of orgeat syrup.

What food pairs well with tropical cocktails?

TLDR: pretty much anything because they're delicious. But if you're wanting to get scientific about it, here are a couple favorites:
  • Lime-forward cocktails like Margaritas, Mojitos, Daiquiris and Caipirinhas go well with seafood - think ceviche, shrimp or fish tacos - as well as Latin flavors in meals like tacos and fajitas. It's a bit of a no-brainer, but tequila cocktails tend to play nicely with these types of flavors too.
  • Pineapple juice or coconut flavors are great with chicken, and they're also dynamite with the smokey flavors of barbecue. They are also great with Asian flavors, and definitely play well with peanuts used in something like Pad Thai or chicken satay.
  • If you're eating something a bit heavier like brisket, burgers or ribs, definitely try out a tiki-influenced tropical cocktail like the Mai Tai, Painkiller or even just a rum and coke with a squeeze of lime.

11 Great Tropical Cocktails

You can drink them on a boat, you can drink them...well maybe not with a goat, but that's up to you. 

  • Bacardi Coconut Pineapple

    A simple play on the flavors of a Pina Colada, without needing a blender, this cocktail will hit the spot whether you're on a boat or beach.
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    Bacardi Coconut Rum, a pineapple and two cocktails
  • Hand-Shaken Daiquiri

    A delicious, back-to-basics cocktail consisting only of rum, lime juice and simple syrup, this drink is out of this world.
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    Hand-Shaken Daiquiri Cocktails
  • Malibu & Pineapple

    Another riff on the coconut and pineapple theme, this drink gets the ingredients down to two, and is incredibly simple to make while still giving a sweet kick of flavor.
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    Malibu rum and pineapple cocktails
  • Bay Breeze

    Looking to add some tropical zing to your vodka cranberry? Add a slug of pineapple juice and you've got the much yacht-ier sounding "Bay Breeze."
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    Bay Breeze Tropical Cocktail
  • Caribou Lou

    If you're looking to kick things up a notch in the ABV department, this cocktail includes both coconut and overproof (high test) rum to get into high gear.
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  • Mai Tai

    You may have noticed we've mentioned this drink multiple times in this article, and there's a good reason for it - it's an OG tropical drink that you should try, like right now. Dark rum, citrus and orgeat (almond) syrup make this delicious cocktail pack a punch of unique flavors.
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    Mai Tai cocktail garnished with lime, plus a pineapple and some rum bottles
  • Bahama Mama

    Here are three ingredients you maybe never thought you'd see in the same drink - dark rum, grenadine and coffee liqueur. But don't let that stop you from making this delicious summertime drink.
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    Bahama Mama cocktail garnished with an orange
  • Zombie

    Three kinds of rum, pineapple juice, lime and good old Velvet Falernum? You'll need quite a few ingredients, but beware that drinking too many of these could turn you into the shambling mass of the drink's namesake.
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    Zombie cocktail garnished with mint leaves
  • Rum Runner

    Two kinds of rum, two additional liqueurs, and a whole bunch of citrus will have this drink rum running its way into your heart.
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    Rum Runner cocktails with citrus
  • Hurricane

    Another strong drink that just might blow you over if you're not careful, but definitely delicious enough that you might want to push it.
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    Three Hurricane cocktails garnished with orange and cherries
  • Pina Colada

    Rum(s), pineapple juice, coconut cream, and utter summertime blissful deliciousness, even if you get caught in the rain.
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    Festive Pina Coladas garnished with pineapple

Need more tropical cocktails this summer? We've got 'em!

  • Summer cocktail recipes - find a whole bunch of great cocktails, tropical and non-, to brighten up your summer.
  • Tequila cocktail recipes - we didn't talk too much about tequila, but we've got some fantastic sippers you can make with this delicious spirit this summer.
  • Rum cocktail recipes - why? Because rum is delicious and it's synonymous with summer, that's why!