It’s spring break time! Whether you’re just finishing up vacation like me and my family, or break is about to start, it’s tropical cocktail o’clock. Maybe you want to keep the good vibes going at home or you want to get yourself ready for all those beachside Pina Coladas (and when I say all those I meant that one). Or maybe there are no travel plans this year—even more reason to shake up some fancy cocktails at home. Whatever your deal, these tropical cocktails will do you right.
Before we get sipping, though, let’s talk a minute about tropical cocktails, shall we? I love a good Pina Colada, daiquiris are great, and having just visited Hawaii, I’m obsessed with Mai Tais, but only if these drinks are made from scratch without syrupy sweet mixers poured out of a big plastic jug. These real deal cocktails are not always easy to find at resorts, but you can certainly mix them up at home, and it’s so worth it.
Related: Tropical vibes with Banana Daiquiris, both with and without alcohol.
I was so used to frozen daiquiris made with bright red strawberry syrup and candy-tasting banana flavor that I didn’t even realize that the classic version is made plain, with rum, sugar (not too much!), and fresh lime juice. What a revelation! This recipe for a Classic Frozen Daiquiri at Food52 (above) is the perfect place to start. Then, sure, go ahead and add your favorite fruit. Just do me a favor and stick to fresh or plain frozen. And don’t miss these Banana Daiquiris recipe if that’s your thing; there’s a version with alcohol and one without, too.
Okay, so the Mai Tai: If you’ve only ever had a super sweet one loaded with grenadine and topped with a dark rum floater, you’re missing out. It’s not that those can’t be good—they can (well, if they go easy on the sweet)—but this Classic Mai Tai is much more aligned with the original cocktail recipe. It’s also just sweet enough and totally refreshing. Try this once and you’ll never go back. Also, don’t get scared by the ingredients list. If you’re not super into cocktails and don’t want to buy anything special, Todd gives substitutions up top.
Fresh Pina Colada | The Kitchy Kitchen
I have fond memories of getting virgin Pina Coladas while on vacation with my mom when I was young and then, recently, when my kids asked for one, I order one for myself, too. This is going to be good. Blech. It turns out, nostalgia is not a good judge of cocktails. Everything I loved about Pina Coladas when I was young—that overly sweet, artificially intense flavor—is everything that I hate now. But when I sip on this Fresh Pina Colada made with real pineapple that I found at The Kitchy Kitchen, the good memories come flooding back. It’s funny how happy taste buds make that happen.