When it comes to sailing the British and US Virgin Islands, rum is the spirit of choice for signature island drinks after a fun day spent yachting. Distilled from sugar cane molasses, the very word is synonymous with the Caribbean, conjuring up images of tropical islands and relaxed sailing adventures. Whether you’re lazing at anchor or unwinding on a sugar-white beach, these famous rum cocktails are guaranteed to put you in a laid-back tropical frame of mind.
The daiquiri, the granddaddy of rum cocktails (created in Cuba during the Spanish-American War), would be aghast at the neon-colored adult slushies spawned by the recent craft cocktail movement. But not so the wholesome banana daiquiri, birthed in the 1950s at the Mountaintop Bar on St Thomas when blended bananas and a homemade banana liqueur were added to the classic combo of Cruzan rum, sugar extract, and fresh lime juice. The birthplace bar is today swarmed by tourists. Instead, try Duffy’s Love Shack, down by the Vessup Bay dock on St Thomas.
This popular and classic US Virgin Islands cocktail is one of the simplest, with only three ingredients, served in a highball glass with crushed ice and garnished with a pineapple, a strawberry, or a lime wedge. Cruzan Aged Light Rum plus pineapple juice and cranberry juice are all you’ll need for this beachy tropical treat, although coconut rum kicks up the Caribbean flavor a notch. Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, on St Thomas, conjures a mean (and delicious) Raspberry Mango Bay Breeze using Cruzan Raspberry Rum and Cruzan Mango Rum. You can even hop aboard Bolongo Bay’s Heavenly Days catamaran and enjoy your Bay Breeze special on a sunset cruise.
Invented in 1975 at The Ship’s Store & Sapphire Pub, on St Thomas, this sweet and creamy delight is named after a customer’s Afghan hound, Bushwack. Don’t be fooled by the innocent chocolate smoothie look: this frozen concoction is infamously strong. Most island bars mix at least five spirits – typically one or more Cruzan rums, plus Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, and Amaretto – and blend the liquors with ice, or a big dollop of ice cream, and chocolate syrup. Drop anchor at the Sapphire Beach Bar, which whips up a unique blend of vodka, Kahlua, Dark Crème de Cacao, Coco Lopez, and a splash of triple sec sans the rum.
Cruzan mango rum and Cruzan coconut rum mixed with pineapple juice provide perfect rum therapy in the form of a Cruzan Confusion. St Croix’s Cruzan Rum Distillery produces the US Virgin Islands’ signature rums, including an entire rainbow of fruity-flavored rums at a seemingly benign 20 percent proof. But don’t be fooled! The dangerously delicious tiki punch may include as many as five different rums, which means it’s easy to lose your sea legs. Try one at The Landing Beach Bar, at Cane Bay, on St Croix.
This brooding and ominously named cocktail originated in Bermuda but it’s equally popular in the British Virgin Islands, which even has a sailing regatta named for it. Officially, it must be made in a highball glass with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Gosling’s Stormy ginger beer (Bermuda’s Gosling trademarked the drink) over ice. Hence, some bars call it the Safe Harbour, using Cruzan Dark Rum or hearty Pusser’s rum, made on Tortola. Add a dash of angostura bitters. Garnish with lime and voila. Check it out at the nautical-themed Pusser’s Road Town Pub, beside the Tortola ferry dock.
As synonymous with the Virgin Islands as sand dollars on a beach, this infamous rum cocktail was invented at the humble Soggy Dollar Bar, on Jost Van Dyke, in the 1970s. Crème de Coco, pineapple and orange juice, fresh-grated nutmeg, and a liberal dose of premium dark Pusser’s rum combine in this sweet and creamy drink strong enough to kill all pain (until the blurry hangover next morning). So, drop anchor and swim ashore to spend your soggy dollars at the drink’s beach shack birthplace, which today uses its own namesake brand of rum.