My Top 10 Tropical Cocktails

When all this is over, I am really looking forward to a good cocktail. The taste, the flavours, the beautiful presentation, the glass, all of these make a cocktail a real treat. Of course, at the present time there is no where open to enjoy classic cocktails, but you could have a go at making your own, perhaps using recipes from a cocktail book like Classic Cocktails by Octopus Publishing that is currently available from The Works for just £4.

Thinking towards Summer Days, here are 10 of the best tropical cocktails.

1. Pina Colada, Puerto Rico

If you like Pina Colada, like getting caught in the rain. Now probably famous as Del Boy’s cocktail of choice, complete with a little brolly, Pina Colada is a blend of rich coconut cream, white rum and tangy pineapple. The name, in case you were wondering, literally means strained pineapple. Best served shaken with ice.

2. Rum Punch, The Bahamas

A rum punch is definitely one of my favourite holiday cocktails. A Rum punch cocktail recipe usually consists of rum (light, dark, or coconut) and lots of fruit juice including pineapple, orange juice, lemon or lime juice. Grenadine is added for colour. The internet is awash with Rum Punch recipes that may differ in the fruit added.


3. Ti’ Punch, Haiti

Ti’ Punch, which means little punch, is popular all over the Caribbean. It is another rum based cocktail, made with rum agricole, cane syrup, and a slice of lime. Ti’ is pronouced Tee unless you were wandering. Ti’ Punch is often served before a meal in Haiti.

4. Cojito, Cuba

I have read somewhere that the Cojito is a Mojito with a twist, in other words, it’s a dream of a cocktail. It’s main ingredients are lime and mint, and typically rum and coconut, making it a sweet and zesty cocktail. Perfect for hot and sultry nights.

5. Planter’s Punch, Jamaica

The cocktail said to have originated at the Planters Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, Planter’s punch is an IBA Official Cocktail made of dark rum, several juices, grenadine syrup, sugar syrup, and Angostura bitters. I have classed this as a Jamaican cocktail as the drink uses Jamaican Rum, but really it is a Deep South classic.

6. Banana Daiquiri, Saint Kitts & Nevis

I have to be honest and say I prefer a Strawberry Daiquiri, but a banana version is a tropical classic. Made by blending dark rum, sugar, lime juice, banana liqueur, water, and peeled ripe bananas with ice, the Banana Daiquiri is a thick and creamy treat.

 

7. Flaming Volcano, Hawaii  

The Flaming Volcano is a group cocktail totally meant for sharing. The recipe has been around since the 1950s, and contains rum, brandy and pineapple, but the unique selling point of the flaming volcano is that a flammable liquid is added to a cone at the centre of the ‘volcano’ to create a mini eruption, or at least a flame.

8. Michelada, Mexico

Michelada is a hot.hot, hot cocktail, and the only one on this list that contains beer. As well as the beer, the cocktail contains lime juice, sauces and spices, tomato juice, and chilli peppers. It is served over ice, which makes it a great mix of both hot and cold. Definitely one to try this Summer.

9. Caipirinha, Brazil

Caipirinha is Brazil’s most famous drink, and could be said to be its National drink. It is made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. Cachaca is very similar to Rum, and the drink does have similarities with the Mojito. Best served over lots of ice and drank outside, preferably by a pool.


10. Gin & Tonic, India  

My personal favourite, although I like my gin even better with lemonade, gin and tonic is listed as an Indian drink as it was first put together as a drink by officers of British East India Company. Best served with ice and a slice, this drink is a timeless classic, and is definitely having a resurgence as gin becomes the stylish drink of choice.

Do you have a favourite cocktail?

Enjoy Your Cocktail Hour

Is there anything more decadent and glamorous than a cocktail? Maybe Champagne may give it a battle, but as Champagne cocktails are also a very popular tipple I would say that cocktails just have the edge when it comes to style, taste and glamour. Just think of James Bond with his Vodka Martini (shaken, not stirred of course), or Margo Channing, as played by the inimitable Bette Davis in ‘All About Eve’ hosting a cocktail party with a martini in one hand, and a cigarette holder in the other. Audrey Hepburn was another who looked supremely chic with a cocktail to hand, especially as Holly Golightly in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ whilst Tom Cruise made the art of making cocktails macho and glamorous in the film Cocktail. I think we can agree that cocktails are the height of glamour when it comes to drinks.

But they can also be a bit of a minefield when it comes to sticking to a healthy diet or food plan. Most cocktails are loaded with spirits and mixers that can be totally detrimental if you are on a diet, or, like me, suffer from diabetes. But if you are not in the mood to totally abstain (and frankly, with the festive party season upcoming, who is), then there are ways to enjoy a cocktail, and stick to your calorie plan.

Make Your Own

If you make a cocktail, you know exactly what you are putting into it. You can buy spirits online at a fraction of the shop cost and either get cocktail ideas from books, or have a go at making your own. The choice of drinks online can be more varied than your local supermarket, and give you the chance to try some more exotic brands and flavours.

Look at bargain bookshops like The Works in order to find cheap and cheerful cocktail recipe books that can serve as inspiration.

The Answer is always Gin

Gin based cocktails have a much lower calorie count than those containing rum, wine etc. If you are counting the calories, then a Gimlet or a gin based martini are good choices that taste amazing and are more saint than sinner.

 

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Watch those mixers!

Swap your lemonade for soda and you will instantly cut the calorie count of your tipple. Tonic is a good option, slimline tonic is even better. Mixers add to the flavour of your drink, but can also tip the balance from healthy to not so healthy so watch carefully what you are adding to your drink.

 

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Ditch the Wine, go for the Champers

It may surprise you to hear, but Champagne has far less calories than an average glass of wine of any colour, so it is actually a much better choice to head for the bubbles.

The Canal House is launched in Birmingham

Last week saw the revitalising of a legendary Birmingham venue, when The Canal House launched in the old James Brindley pub. The James Brindley had been a Birmingham landmark in the 1990s, but had, in recent times become a bit of an eyesore on the skyline, lying empty for the past 8 years. Now, as The Canal House, it looks set to bring those glory days back, as it is once again a beautiful venue, with great food and cocktails.


We went along on launch night to try the food and cocktails and to soak up the atmosphere, and were not disappointed. It is a fabulous venue, with the large space giving off the vibe of traditional wharfside buildings, with lots of wood and glass. Inside feels spacious with lots of attention to detail, I love the high ceilings that make the place so light and airy, the use of wood for the floors to give a rustic feel, and the fabulous use of glass, whether to create skylights, or in a vintage form in the glass bottles and lanterns that make up the amazing chandeliers (such a talking point). There is also a rather beautiful private dining area that would be amazing for a birthday celebration.

The cocktails are one of the real plus points of this fabulous venue. The Canal House is putting its own twists on classic cocktails, so rather than a Mojito, I had The Cuban Influence, and rather than a Long Island Iced Tea, I had Narrowboat Iced Tea, which was described to me as like Fizzy Cola Bottle sweets in alcoholic form and was just delicious, even served in a glass bottle with a bag of sweeties attached. No Ordinary Labourer was a chocolate/coffee mix that even came with Bourbon biscuits. All I can say is that it was so good I had it twice.

The drinks were divine, a real destination on the cocktail map, but the food easily matched it. From appetisers liked the baked kale and sesame seed crisps (brilliant, with just the right amount of spice) to Homemade Houmous that was served with generous helpings of warm flatbread and crudites, the food was of a high standard, with everything well thought out for flavour and portions. The mains are incredible, from Grilled Seabass brilliantly teamed with avocado, to the famous hanging kebabs that you pour garlic butter over for an absolute taste sensation. I chose to have mine with sweet potato fries, a bit of a favourite of mine, and these are by far the best I have ever tasted. And, if you had room left for dessert, the baked chocolate chip cookie dough was just gooey and delicious, my dream dessert.

I loved my first visit to The Canal House, it is a vibrant, warm and inviting destination that is sure to be a favourite with those who love good food and exciting cocktails. I can’t wait to go again.