Holiday Cheer: Cocktails for Caribbean Celebrations

16 December 2008 By Victoria Allman

South of the equator, Christmas favorites like eggnog (too heavy in the tropical sunshine) and rum toddies (too hot in the tropical heat) are abandoned in favor of barbecuing shellfish and swilling white wine. Guests and crew find themselves looking at white sand beaches with sand castles instead of white snow with snowmen. The difference in temperature calls for a change in traditional holiday cocktails.

One boat I worked on didn’t pick up guests until December 27 each year. On Christmas day, we’d tie up beside the other shiny white yachts in Gustavia Harbor, St. Barths. And every year we hosted Christmas lunch for the crew of those boats. All day long, crew would slip away from their charters and owner trips to join us for a drink and a quick bite of turkey. We’d set up a buffet of holiday treats from around the world. Our aft deck became a revolving dinner table of friends and colleagues.

Our chief stewardess always came up with a new drink to serve. She swirled candy canes to mix drinks, served apple cider with cinnamon stick straws and garnished glasses with tinsel and bows. It was our Christmas gift to our fellow yachties — a holiday haven and glass of cheer.

If you're looking for something different this year, instead of the rum-runners and painkillers normally served in the islands, why not try these festive alternatives sure to put anyone in the holiday spirit.

Candy Cane
1 oz Crème de Menthe
1 oz Amaretto
6 oz Sprite/7-Up
Candy canes

Pour ingredients together over ice. Use a candy cane as the stir stick and garnish.

2 oz vodka
6 oz soda
6 cherries, halved
8 mint leaves

Place cherry halves and mint in a glass with ice cubes to create layers. Pour vodka and soda over them for a light, sparkling drink.

Merry Mimosa
½ oz Cointreau
3 oz Champagne
3 oz cranberry juice

Pour Cointreau and cranberry juice into a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne.

Holiday Poinsettia Punch
1 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz vodka
3 oz orange juice
1 oz pomegranate juice
2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
3 mint leaves

Pour Grand Marnier, vodka, orange juice, and pomegranate juice into a glass. Stir well. Float pomegranate seeds and mint leaves on the top for garnish. This can also be done in volume and served in a punch bowl.

If you absolutely must serve something warm, an after-dinner cup of Christmas Cocoa acts as both a tasty beverage and decadent dessert.

Christmas Cocoa
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp cocoa
1 ½ Tbsp sugar
2 oz Godiva Chocolate liqueur
shaved chocolate

Heat milk on the stove, over medium heat, to simmer. Whisk in cocoa and sugar. Pour into a mug with Godiva Chocolate liqueur. Garnish with shaved chocolate.

Whatever you are sipping on this Holiday season, I hope you raise it high and toast to all yachties, working hard far away from home and loved ones.


What is your drink of choice over the holidays? Share your favorite festive recipes on