36 Tropical Drinks and Island-Inspired Bites
Who wouldn't love to escape to the tropics right about now. If you can't get there in real life, these refreshing tiki drinks, Caribbean cocktails, and island-friendly appetizers will do their best to make it up to you. Read on to get a hand-picked sample of our best tropical eats and drinks that bring a taste of island life to you.
Blue Lagoon Cocktail
True, tiki cocktails are typically rum-based beverages. But the first rule of Tiki Time is... who needs rules? So we're kicking things off with a tequila tipple. Just look at this cocktail! It paints the perfect Polynesian picture. A couple of these, and you feel the sea spray on your face and the white sand between your toes.
Mai Tai Cocktail
The classic tiki cocktail. This Mai Tai combines three kinds of rum — light rum, gold rum, and dark rum — with orgeat, orange liqueur, and lime juice. Watch out! Mai Tai cocktails are infamously easy drinking; they'll sneak up on you in a hurry, pummelling you with the force of 10,000 teeny-tiny umbrellas.
Boozy Mai Tai Pops
"Take yourself and a few friends on a trip to the sunny islands of your imagination with this refreshing juice and rum-filled adult pop." —Matt Wencl
Mango Pineapple Ice Pops
Or leave out the rum entirely, and enjoy these refreshing fruit pops. They're "frozen fruit blended together with Reddi-wip, pineapple juice, and coconut extract."
Geography tells us that the Bahamas are not exactly in the South Pacific. But who asked Geography? This cocktail combines coconut-flavored rum with light rum, plus pineapple and orange juices, and a dash of grenadine.
Next Best Thing to Lulu's Pina Colada
"Jimmy Buffett's sister, Lulu, owns a very popular restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Lulu's serves the absolute best Pina Colada in the world there! Here is the next best thing to one of hers! If you can't find the frozen mixer, 1/2 can coconut cream and pineapple juice will work." —Simon'sMom
"Traditional affogato is vanilla gelato topped with espresso, but here a tropical sorbet forms an island in a coffee-flavored rum sea. Rum-based Tia Maria coffee liqueur is preferred for its wonderful rich flavor." —Matt Wencl
Sunset Rum Punch
"When it's late and you're hanging around the fire pit with friends watching the sunset, this is the rum punch crowd-pleaser to pass around. Full of bright citrus, floral notes, and plenty of good rum, you'll all have a delicious time before the day is done." —Matt Wencl
If you love to luau, the daiquiri is your drink. "Refreshing tiki flavors mingle in this delicious reinterpretation of the classic daiquiri," says Matt Wencl.
Coconut rum and vodka get the job done here, with pineapple juice and grenadine in a supporting role. "An awesome drink to sip by the pool! Garnish with an orange wheel." —POLKA
"Routinely found at Chinese restaurants, this punch-like cocktail is absolutely mouthwatering. This goes great with Chinese and Polynesian food." —JJS0513
Ruby Rum Buck
"Bucks refer to drinks that combine lime and ginger beer, so a dark and stormy with lime is an example of a buck. In this version, I introduced aromatic bitters and homemade hibiscus syrup for extra flavor and a blush of color. Add your choice of garnish, such as a lime twist or a fresh hibiscus flower. Serve with a straw." —Matt Wencl
A tropical Fog Cutter with rum, gin, brandy, and sherry will definitely break the ice at your next tiki party.
Tropical Punch Cocktail
"This drink reminds me of vacation, just like the fruity drinks they serve on cruise ships. I used Malibu Rum and it was perfect. Sweet, fruity, yummy! Garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry." —Kim's Cooking Now
But before we get to the food, here's a mocktail. It's a tasty tiki-type sip for non-drinkers, of course. But it's also a smart move for anyone indulging. Sip a high-octane tiki cocktail, then sample the mocktail. It'll keep you on your feet.
Easy Rumaki with Pineapple
"Rumaki combines the crunchiness of bacon and water chestnuts with the wonderful flavors of pineapple," Barbara says.
Chef John's Crab Rangoon
"While not 'authentic,' these crispy crab and cream cheese wontons are one of the most addictive, delicious, and crowd-pleasing appetizers ever created. That is, if the filling has enough crab in it. I'm using a one to one ratio of crab to cream cheese." —Chef John
Jerk Chicken Wings
"A perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy," Chef John says. "I'm usually pretty casual about you changing my recipes, but I'm going to have to insist you not change any of the key ingredients, which are, every one of them."
"Spam Musubi is a popular snack in Hawaii. It is a type of sushi that has marinated cooked spam." —Rashad Maiden
Coconut Shrimp I
"These crispy shrimp are rolled in a coconut beer batter before frying. For dipping sauce, I use orange marmalade, mustard, and horseradish mixed to taste." —LINDAV10
Jamaican Saltfish Fritters (Stamp and Go)
"A popular Jamaican appetizer. Just stamp them out in the kitchen, take some for the road and go! Salt cod can be prepared the day before for quicker cook time. These are also good served with a spicy dipping sauce," Monique C. says.
"Shoyu Chicken is a popular Hawaiian dish. It is often served with rice. The word shoyu is Japanese for soy sauce. Let the chicken soak in the marinade for at least an hour, the longer the better." —The Big E
Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs
"These kabobs are tender, sweet, and delicious. They're easy to make and only require a few ingredients." —dailyn2003
Puerto Rican Tostones (Fried Plantains)
"As a Puerto Rican, I know and love platanos as well. They're an easy side dish and can take the place of other sides, like rice or potatoes. I don't bother with the water, just fry, smash, and re-fry. Just make sure you use the green plantains for this recipe," Alexis Santos-Vimos says.
"I usually make this as an appetizer. Always a hit. It's so easy and quick. Great for potlucks, although it's never enough!" —Luv2bake
Jamaican Beef Patties
"These are delicious curry-flavored beef pastries that can be found in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. Try serving them with some peas and rice, or just have them as a snack." —JEFFOLEE
Pineapple Teriyaki Burgers
"Fresh ginger is a key ingredient for these tasty burgers." —CIORFINO
Asian-American Slaw With Peanuts and Jalapenos
"The flavor was excellent. Don't skimp on the sugar; it needs it! When I first tossed the slaw with the dressing I tasted it and it was out of this world delicious." —Miss Kitty
Aloha Chicken Burgers
"This tasty sandwich is like a luau on a bun!" —Chris McDaniel
Deep Fried Corn Meal Sticks (Sorullitos de Maiz) with Dipping Sauce
Also referred to as Latin or Spanish Corn Fritters, can be prepared with or without cheese. This version is Puerto Rican style. These deep-fried cornmeal sticks are crunchy on the outside and buttery sweet on the inside," Marisa Nicholls says.
Oven Kalua Pork
"This is the best kalua pork I've ever had, and I'm from Hawaii. I had no idea it was so simple to make." —es
"Smoked salmon, tomato, and onion make up this tantalizing Hawaiian salad. It's just not a luau without the lomi!" —SAXONY
Island-Style Fried Rice
"Everyone in Hawaii has their own version of fried rice. This is my own version of fried rice that the locals ate in Hawaii." —chen
Puerto Rican Meat Patties
"These little parcels are made with seasoned ground meat sealed in egg roll wrappers; they are then deep fried. Serve with salsa and guacamole if desired. But plain, they are a dream. This recipe was handed down from my grandfather to my mom, from her to me," Vicky says.