14 Tropical Drinks From Around The World You Need To Try At Least Once

There's nothing quite like sipping on a refreshing tropical cocktail to transport yourself to a sunny paradise. Whether you're lounging on the beach or just chilling in your backyard, these fruity concoctions are the perfect way to embrace laid-back vibes.

Tropical cocktails are all about blending exotic flavors and vibrant colors to create a taste of the tropics in every sip. Think rum, vodka, or tequila mixed with tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and coconut, all served up in a fun and festive glass garnished with mini umbrellas, fruit slices, and maybe even a little paper parrot.

But what is the difference between a tropical cocktail and a tiki drink? While both embrace the spirit of island life, tropical cocktails tend to focus more on the fresh and fruity side of things, with an emphasis on using real fruit juices and purees. Tiki cocktails, on the other hand, often incorporate a wider range of ingredients, including exotic syrups, spices, and even herbs, all mixed to create complex and layered flavors reminiscent of a tropical adventure. In short, all tiki tipples are tropical, but not all tropical drinks are tiki cocktails.

So whether you're craving a classic piña colada or feeling adventurous with a Singapore sling, there's a tropical cocktail out there just waiting to whisk you away to paradise. Kick-start your cocktail journey with these 14 tropical drinks from around the world that you need to try at least once. 

Rum runner

No getaway to the Florida Keys would be complete without a fruity rum runner cocktail. Refreshing and perfectly sweet, the rum runner pairs beautifully with Caribbean-inspired backyard barbecue fare like jerk chicken or well-spiced ribs. 

Legend has it that this tropical concoction was created in the 1970s by a bartender at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Florida, who sought to utilize some surplus rum and unused liqueurs. The cocktail earned the name "rum runner" thanks to its double dose of dark and light rum, as well as the infamous history of the Florida Keys during Prohibition, when seafaring bootleggers used the island chain to smuggle rum to the mainland. The concoction was a hit, and the rum runner became one of Florida's most iconic libations.

To make a classic rum runner, combine equal parts light and dark rum with banana liqueur, blackberry liqueur or Chambord, grenadine, lime juice, and pineapple juice — and for an extra boost of fruit flavor, add a splash of orange juice, too. Shake well and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry and a slice of pineapple for the perfect finishing touch.

Piña colada

Permanently etched into the American psyche thanks to a particularly catchy Rupert Holmes song, the piña colada is the all-but-official drink of vacation vibes everywhere. As with almost any cocktail origin story, the exact moment of conception is hotly debated, but it's widely agreed that the drink was created in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico's tourism authorities acknowledge that multiple bartenders claim the honor of inventing this drink. Old San Juan's Barrachina Restaurant claims to have introduced the piña colada in 1963, though the Caribe Hilton hotel counters that one of its bartenders, Ramón "Monchito" Marrero, concocted the libation nearly a decade earlier. Some on the island claim that the drink is even older, dating back to 19th-century pirate Roberto Cofresi. While we may never know the truth of the matter, this classic combo of white rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice has earned its place in the tropical cocktail hall of fame.

Different versions have appeared over the years, but the basic piña colada recipe remains more or less the same: Blend white rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, and ice until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve it in a chilled glass garnished with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry. The paper umbrella is optional, but recommended. 


As a perfect companion for lying on Rio's beaches or dancing during Carnival festivities under the sweltering São Paulo sun, the incredibly refreshing caipirinha cocktail is a deceptively simple libation. This beloved Brazilian beverage features just three ingredients — lime, sugar, and a distinctly localized spirit known as cachaça. Similar to rum, yet so very different, cachaça is a distilled liquor made from fermented sugarcane juice (as opposed to the molasses or other sugar byproducts used for rum), which gives this unique spirit an earthier and sweeter flavor than its Caribbean cousin.

While it's known that cachaça was first created by enslaved Africans in Brazil hundreds of years ago, the caipirinha's origins are less clear. Sources say it was developed by a 19th-century British Royal Navy doctor to ward off scurvy, while others claim it was concocted as an immune-boosting elixir around the 1918 flu pandemic. Regardless, the caipirinha has evolved into Brazil's national drink. 

To craft this tipple, start by muddling lime wedges and sugar (no sugar syrups here) in a glass to release those citrus oils and juices. Then, add cachaça and fill the glass with ice, stirring gently to combine the flavors. 


There are few drinks more aptly named than the tropical painkiller cocktail. This delightful rum-based libation got its start in the British Virgin Islands during the 1970s. At a beach-bum hangout called the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, bartender Daphne Henderson crafted this cocktail that is believed to provide hangover relief. Lo and behold, the painkiller was born. 

Originally a local secret, the painkiller gained international appeal thanks to regular Soggy Dollar patron and founder of Pusser's Rum, Charles Tobias. After begging Henderson for her recipe for two years, the enterprising cocktail enthusiast snuck a painkiller from her bar back to his kitchen, where he carefully copied the drink. While Pusser's now promotes the painkiller as a trademarked specialty, the distillery still gives Henderson credit for creating this cocktail.

Luckily, you don't have to book a flight to the Caribbean to taste this tropical tipple. Essentially a twist on a piña colada, the painkiller is a creamy concoction of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and cream of coconut, shaken and served over ice in a hurricane glass. Garnish your creation with a sprinkle of nutmeg to bring out the dark rum's spicy notes.

Mai tai

No tropical drink summons up visions of Hawaiian sunsets faster than a mai tai. The now-ubiquitous vacation cocktail is a beach bar staple, though it actually got its start in Oakland, California. This drink's story is forever intertwined with that of the premier tiki-bar chain, Trader Vic's. Founder Victor Bergeron claimed to invent the tropical cocktail in 1944 while entertaining some friends from Tahiti. According to Trader Vic's, one of the revelers tried Bergeron's concoction "and said, 'mai tai — roa ae.' In Tahitian this means 'out of this world — the best.'" 

Get a taste of the original mai tai when you belly up to the bar at Trader Vic's, or whip up your own tropical cocktail at home. To craft the classic concoction, combine rum (take your pick among the best rums for a mai tai), lime juice, orange liqueur, and orgeat syrup in a shaker, shake vigorously, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of lime for a refreshing and upscale vibe, or lean into the tiki theme with a pineapple wedge, cherries, and edible flowers. 


A Cuban classic, the refreshing mojito cocktail can trace its origins to the 16th century, when the recipe was reportedly discovered as a medicinal remedy for sailors afflicted with scurvy. Its modern incarnation as a beloved tropical cocktail emerged in the bars of Havana, and it quickly became a staple of Caribbean nightlife.

Most recipes for a classic mojito call for four ingredients: white rum, lime juice, fresh mint, and simple syrup. While the syrup certainly leads to a smooth, luscious cocktail, older recipes call for the use of granulated sugar, which is the best way to get a sweet and fresh texture in your mojitos. The sharp sugar crystals actually aid in the all-important muddling process, helping the lime and mint to release more of their essential oils and juices. 

The result is a beverage with a bolder flavor and a richer textural experience. Top off your tropical drink with club soda or soda water for a delightful dose of effervescence and you've got yourself the perfect summertime sipper.

Dark and stormy

The unofficial drink of Bermuda may not look the part of a cheerful tropical cocktail, but its simple building blocks check all of the right boxes. This spice-forward concoction captures the Caribbean sipping spirit, with dark rum's rich depth of flavor, ginger beer's spicy kick and effervescent refreshment, and a lime wedge garnish for a touch of freshness. If most vacation-worthy libations are too sweet for your taste, the dark and stormy cocktail just might be the tropical drink for you.

This bold beverage has roots in Bermuda stretching back to the time just after World War I. A scion of the family behind Goslings Rum is credited with using locally produced ginger beer as a mixer for his Black Seal Rum. According to Goslings, soon after the drink's creation, a fisherman declared that the blend was the "color of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under." While the trademarked recipe calls for Gosling's Black Seal Rum, any dark (but not spiced) rum with complex flavors and a smooth finish will elevate this classic cocktail's overall flavor profile.

This sailor-strength tipple is certainly not for the faint of heart. However, you can lighten up a dark and stormy with a ginger ale swap in place of ginger beer, giving the drink a sweeter and less potent taste.

Singapore sling

Thanks to its cheerful color and fruity flavor, the Singapore sling has landed firmly on the list of must-try tropical cocktails. Unlike many other island-inspired libations, this tipple features gin, and is one of the best gin cocktails you're likely to find on a beach bar menu. 

The boldly colored beverage actually has a bit of a sneaky history. It's widely believed that the Singapore sling was created at the Long Bar of Singapore's iconic Raffles hotel in 1915, when bartender Ngiam Tong Boon wanted to whip up a potent potable for ladies. At the time, social norms didn't smile upon women consuming strong spirits in public, so this punch-like libation was packed with fruit juice and featured a fun pink hue to throw busybodies off the scent of high-class women who simply wanted a pre-dinner cocktail. The drink was a hit, and is now considered as a symbol of Singapore.

You don't need to travel halfway around the world to get a taste of this sweet creation. To make a classic Singapore sling, simply combine gin, cherry liqueur, Bénédictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine in a shaker with ice. Shake well, strain it into an ice-filled glass, and garnish it with a slice of pineapple and a cherry for a tropical touch.


Pisco sours may be the most popular Peruvian cocktail on the international stage, but the chilcano is what you'll find the locals sipping in Lima. Thanks to its refreshing blend of locally distilled pisco, freshly squeezed lime juice, ginger ale, and optional bitters, the chilcano is the perfect summertime cocktail, though its moniker may be a little off-putting to some — this refreshing Peruvian cocktail is named after fish soup.

This tropical drink's origins are a bit murky, but one popular theory is that it originated with an influx of Italian immigrants settling in Peru as the 20th century arrived, who were homesick for a grappa-based beverage they called buongiorno. Rather than lament the loss of their favorite cocktail, the newcomers decided to try recreating the drink with pisco, a grape brandy distilled widely in Peru and Chile. More than a century later, the chilcano is still a staple on the Peruvian bar scene, and should be added to your summertime drink rotation.

Limoncello spritz

Step aside, Aperol — there's a new spritz in town. The limoncello spritz is a delightful Italian concoction that beautifully blends the refreshing citrus notes of limoncello with the effervescence of prosecco and soda water. Originating along the scenic Amalfi Coast, this sun-loving tipple perfectly captures the simple pleasures of la dolce vita.

To craft this refreshing libation, start with a base of chilled limoncello — a fragrant liqueur made from the zest of lemons, preferably grown in the Campania region; that's where you'll find the specific lemons that make Italian limoncello so unique. The zest is steeped in alcohol and sweetened with sugar syrup. Pour the limoncello into a wine glass filled with ice, then top it off with equal parts sweet prosecco and crisp soda water. Give it a gentle stir to allow the flavors to meld together harmoniously.

What makes limoncello spritz one of the preferred alternatives for an Aperol spritz is its vibrant citrusy taste, which will instantly transport you to sunny afternoons spent on the Italian coast without ever booking a flight. Its effervescent nature and tangy sweetness make it a perfect poolside aperitif or summertime sipper.

Mezcal margarita

For a smoky and sophisticated twist on your next taco Tuesday, try whipping up a batch of margaritas with mezcal instead of tequila. While both are Mexican spirits made from agave, the primary difference between tequila and mezcal lies in their varying production techniques. 

To make mezcal, the cores of harvested agave plants (called piñas) are tossed into an earthen pit and roasted with scalding stones for days. Afterwards, the piñas are stored for weeks while their juice ferments inside the husks, before the juice is extracted and doubly distilled. This process imbues the final product with a distinctly smoky flavor that lends depth and complexity to a wide range of mezcal-based tipples, especially the margarita.

To craft your libation, choose one of the best mezcal brands and pour it into your cocktail shaker, followed by freshly squeezed lime juice, agave syrup, and a splash of orange liqueur like triple sec. Shake well, then strain the mezcal margarita into a glass rimmed with salt or Tajin for an extra kick. The mezcal's smokiness balances the sweet-yet-tart flavor of the citrus and agave, creating a well-rounded sip you'll want to savor long into those summer nights. 

Rum punch

Ubiquitous across the Caribbean, rum punch can be anything you want it to be. This simple tipple epitomizes the spirit of laid-back island life, and while one classic 17th-century rum punch recipe is remembered by rhyme, the formula can be tweaked according to whichever bartender is shaking up tropical cocktails on any given night. 

Considered by spirits historians to be the first cocktail, punch as a style of drink dates back to colonial England and its exploits in tropical regions around the world. Rum punch specifically took off in the 17th century when British ships started bringing spirits back to England from its newly exploited sugar-producing colonies. Despite what Hollywood would have us believe, rum punch was actually the preferred method of imbibing rum among sailors, merchants, and even swashbuckling pirates.

Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a beach bar from Barbados to the British Virgin Islands that doesn't have its own version of rum punch. While there are countless spins on the tropical drink, the basic rhyming recipe remains the same: "One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak." Combine one part lime juice (sour), two parts simple syrup or grenadine (sweet), three parts rum (strong), and four parts tropical fruit juice (weak). Add a cocktail umbrella and prepare to be transported to paradise.


A staple of Mardi Gras festivities and bachelorette parties, the flavorful hurricane drink has origins tracing back to New Orleans, specifically to Pat O'Brien's bar in the French Quarter. The hurricane was born of necessity — following Prohibition, American-made spirits were in short supply, but imported rum could be found in abundance. 

In response to this supply-chain debacle, Pat O'Brien concocted the hurricane to keep costs low and customers buzzed. The result? A deliciously tropical libation that would go on to become an iconic staple of the Big Easy's cocktail culture.

Choose any of the best rums for a Hurricane and add passion fruit juice, orange juice, lime juice, and grenadine. Shake it with ice and pour your drink into its namesake curvy glass. The final product is a visually striking drink with a bold and fruity flavor profile, thanks to the sweet tanginess of the passion fruit juice and the richness of the rum.

Jungle bird

Be transported to Malaysia with the jungle bird tropical cocktail. According to lore, this vibrant drink was developed as a promotional offering for the Aviary Bar at Kuala Lumpur's Hilton Hotel in the mid-1970s. Hotel beverage manager Jeffrey Ong See Teik supposedly served the drink in a bird-shaped glass, and dubbed the newly developed cocktail in honor of the brightly colored tropical birds that were kept in a poolside enclosure within view of the aptly named bar.

The jungle bird stands out not just for its striking color, but for its use of Campari. The aperitif's bittersweet and herbaceous notes don't exactly scream "tropical" — but when combined with the molasses-like notes of dark rum, fragrant pineapple juice, tart lime juice, and a splash of extra sweetness from simple syrup, the combo just works. It's sweet, bitter, and tangy, all in one sip. In short, the jungle bird is like a vacation in a glass, and who wouldn't want that?