Retro refresh.
array of tropical drinks garnished with herbs, fruits, and flowers
Credit: Brie Passano

As it turns out, you don't actually need the entire liquor cabinet, all that sugar, or half an hour to make a delicious tropical drink. The versions here are lighter in sugar, alcohol, and lift - but no less fabulous.

1. Sparkling Rum Runner

two tall glasses of Sparkling Rum Runner tropical cocktail garnished with berries and pineapple wedges
Credit: Brie Passano

Rum Runners typically involve blackberry brandy, banana liqueur, and grenadine. I used fresh and broiled fruit, fruit juice, and a little bubbly water for a light, but still fruity update. Garnish glasses with pineapple wedges and cocktail picks threaded with blackberries. Get the recipe for Sparkling Rum Runner.

2. Lightened Up Scorpion Cup

bowl of Lightened Up Scorpion Cup tropical cocktail garnished with mint leaves and orchid flowers
Credit: Brie Passano

A Scorpion Bowl typically has four or more liquors and is super sweet. This sweet-enough version uses rum and brandy for richness and amaretto to fill in for hard-to-find orgeat. Garnish with orange slices, fresh mint sprigs, and edible orchids. Get the recipe for Lightened Up Scorpion Cup.

3. Perky Pineapple Sipper

two glasses of Perky Pineapple Sipper tropical cocktails garnishes with lime slices and pineapple leaves
Credit: Brie Passano

This delicious drink is inspired by the flavors of a 1960s cocktail, the Mr. Bali Hai, which usually requires simple syrup, pineapple juice, and three bottles of booze (two rums and a coffee liqueur). For a neat cheat, I coffee-washed a gold aged rum and made the simple syrup right in the shaker. Garnish with pineapple fronds and lime wedges. Get the recipe for Perky Pineapple Sipper.

Good to Know

Although tiki cocktail culture gave rise to many wonderful drinks, it also has a history of colonial nostalgia and cultural appropriation (think totemic mugs and other iconography exoticizing Oceanic people and gods) that are offensive. So when you shake and sip, it's kinder to skip the tiki mugs and trappings.

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2021 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.