The Key Ingredient You Need To Flavor A Bahama Mama

We hate to break it to you, but there's a chance you've been drinking your Bahama Mamas all wrong. The tried-and-true vacation cocktail is a cheerful combination of rum, pineapple juice, and crème de coconut... right? Not exactly.

Legend has it that the Bahama Mama was created in the 1950s or '60s (depending on which historian you ask), and over time, it seems that bartenders lost their way. Some mixologists have tried to rev up their seemingly-simple Bahama Mamas with a shot of Curaçao and banana liqueur, such as Giffard Banane du Brésil. Others add orange juice and Grenadine, Tequila Sunrise style. We aren't talking about those versions today. The classic Bahama Mama is complex enough to stand alone without additional fruity ingredients.

Cocktail elitists who have long been writing off the Bahama Mama as a single-note froufrou drink have likely been sipping erroneously-assembled versions. You can't forget the coffee liqueur. While this ingredient may sound strange, in a classic Bahama Mama, the depth and bitterness of the coffee liqueur help balance the sweet coconut and acidic pineapple. 

A proper Bahama Mama is all about the coffee liqueur

The coffee liqueur's introduction of earthy, roasted flavor transforms the Bahama Mama from an otherwise predictable tiki drink to a tragically-overlooked gem. Since the Bahama Mama is all about the masterful layering of flavors, feel free to customize your drink's profile and be selective with your ingredients. To turn down the sweetness and amp up the complexity, use Galliano Espresso coffee liqueur and funky Plantation Xaymaca Rum. If crème de coconut is a little on the syrupy side of your palate, then you can whip up homemade coconut simple syrup with full-fat coconut milk and granulated sugar. For fans who prefer a sweeter cocktail, use Kahlúa and Malibu. For mocktails and lower-ABV versions, you could even recreate the notes of coffee the classic drink requires with a freshly pulled espresso shot or cold brew concentrate.

Serve your "true" Bahama Mama in a Hurricane glass, tiki mug, or Collins. For garnishing, go with a pineapple wedge, Luxardo cherry skewer, and some fresh coconut flakes if you have them. It's the perfect not-overly-sweet tiki drink for sipping poolside — or for sipping in the living room during the middle of winter to transport yourself to the beach.