Cocktail Hour: 10 International Drinks to Help You Pretend You’re on a Beach Somewhere

See recent posts by Lara Grant

If your family Spring Break trip to the Caribbean or romantic getaway to Europe's beaches was postponed, we feel your pain. Sitting on a lounger by the ocean, listening to the waves crash is one of the easiest ways for us to relax and recharge. Fortunately, there's one thing that can transport you to a beautiful beach somewhere: a cocktail that perfectly encapsulates its destination. And while you may not have all the ingredients on-hand, online liquor stores like Drizly and Saucey make crafting a cocktail from the comfort of your home easy. For some inspiration, check out these 10 international drinks that will help you pretend you're on a beach somewhere.

Mexico’s Favorite Cocktail: Margarita

No matter if you’re at a family-friendly all-inclusive resort in Cancun or a luxury adults-only property in Cabo San Lucas, chances are you’re going to want one of Mexico’s famed margaritas in your hand. While a margarita pairs best with a beach lounger and chips, we think it’s also an appropriate addition to any trending Netflix show or backyard grilling. The International Bartenders Association (IBA) lists the standard ingredients for a margarita as 50 ml of tequila — we say splurge on Don Julio Blanco since you aren’t spending money on flights — 20 ml of triple sec, and 15 ml of fresh lime juice. If you want to spice things up, thinly slice jalapeños and add them to the cocktail shaker. Pro tip: after rubbing lime around the rim of your glass, dip in chile-lime-flavored salt.

Puerto Rico’s Preferred Cocktail: Piña Colada

No cocktail says tropical vacation quite like the frozen piña colada, which originated in Puerto Rico. It’s been the island’s official drink since 1978, though two places in Old San Juan claim to be its birthplace: The Caribe Hilton Hotel and Barrachina Restaurant. Regardless, the tasty concoction can transport you to its Caribbean beaches as soon as the pineapple-coconut beverage hits your lips. In addition to ice, the classic ingredients consist of white rum (Bacardi is a popular choice), coconut cream, and fresh pineapple, though you can opt for a pre-made piña colada mix (with or without alcohol) to keep it simple. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Bahamas’ Best-Loved Cocktail: Bahama Mama

Like an adult-friendly fruit punch, the Bahama Mama cocktail takes several tropical flavors and blends it into one refreshing beverage. The cocktail’s origins are a bit contested, but it’s largely agreed that it can be traced back to the Bahamas. And with ingredients like coconut rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, and dark rum — plus coffee liqueur — it certainly tastes like lounging by the ocean at a resort in the Bahamas. Even if you can’t escape to Atlantis for a beach getaway, you can still drink like it.

Cuba’s Quintessential Cocktail: Mojito

Alongside cigars, classic cars, and salsa dancing, Cuba is well-known for its refreshing mojito cocktails. Its history is a bit of a mystery, but historians agree that it originated in Cuba in the 1500s. The classic mojito recipe calls for white rum, fresh lime juice, mint sprigs, sugar, and soda water (you’ll want to muddle the sugar, mint, and lime before adding the ice, rum, and soda water). While that’ll certainly transport you to the streets of Havana, we recommend experimenting with some different flavors — we’re partial to raspberry mojitos for a real summer-vacay vibe.

Hawaii’s Beloved Cocktail: Mai Tai

Like many cocktails, the beginnings of the Mai Tai cocktail are disputed. Most believe it was created in Oakland, California in 1944 when Vic Bergeron (aka Trader Vic) served his concoction to friends visiting from Tahiti, to which they replied in Tahitian, “Maita’i roa a’e,” essentially meaning, “The best.” The name stuck and this Polynesian-inspired drink can be seen on most restaurant and bar menus throughout Hawaii (Monkeypod Kitchen is an island favorite for their special Mai Tais). Standard Mai Tai ingredients include light and dark rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. Shake and serve this cocktail while listening to sounds of the ocean on YouTube to feel like you’re sitting along the beach in Maui.

Spain’s Chosen Cocktail: Sangria

Summers in Spain — especially beach towns like Ibiza or in the Canary Islands — are best spent sipping on a refreshing, fruity glass of sangria. Although Sangria dates back hundreds of years, it didn’t hit the United States’ radar until it was served at the Spanish World Area during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Typical ingredients include Spanish wines from the country’s Rioja region, like Tempranillo, plus brandy, sugar, orange juice, and slices of fruit such as apples and strawberry. Ready-made sangria is available at wine and liquor stores, but part of the fun is creating your own mix with your favorite fruits. Salud!

Brazil’s Exemplary Cocktail: Caipirinha

From the beaches of Rio de Janeiro to the sidewalks of Sao Paulo, the most popular cocktail in Brazil is the caipirinha. As with most cocktails, its origin story is a bit muddled, though many believe that a version of it was first used as medicine during the Spanish Flu. The main ingredient in the cocktail is cachaca, a Brazilian spirit distilled from fermented sugarcane juice. There are just two other ingredients in the cocktail — sugar and fresh lime juice — making for a fresh and simple drink. For a more modern and tart take, add passionfruit.

Peru’s Perfect Cocktail: Pisco Sour

Peru may be best-known for its stunning Incan Machu Picchu ruins or the wide expanses of beach in Lima, but any 18-and-older traveler to the country will likely taste its famous pisco sours. Aptly named, the cocktail is made with pisco, a spirit similar to brandy, plus fresh limes (the sour), simple syrup, raw egg white, and Angostura bitters. Note that both Peru and Chile claim the pisco sour as their national drink, though the Chilean version excludes egg and bitters.

Italy’s Classic Cocktail: Aperol Spritz

Any trip to the Italian beaches of Positano, Capri, and Sardinia is made better with a classic, citrusy Aperol spritz. While we love Italian wines like Chianti and beer like Peroni, warm days in Italy call for a refreshing cold drink like the Aperol spritz. Aperol, a bitter Italian apéritivo, was invented in 1919, and the spritz was created a few decades later, though it only gained popularity among a U.S. audience in recent years. The classic spritz is made with Aperol, Prosecco, and sparkling water, plus an orange garnish.

Bali’s Booze-Free Cocktail: Fresh Watermelon Juice

Although delicious alcohol-free versions of cocktails exist, for the most simple, natural beverages, Bali does it best. The island is renowned for its wellness offerings, and that extends to its beverages, which includes an array of fresh juices and smoothies made with fruits found throughout the island. We’re especially partial to the fresh watermelon juices that are sold along the beaches and at restaurants in top tourist spots like Seminyak, Canggu, and Ubud. To make it at home, all you need is fresh watermelon and a blender, or you can add other ingredients that satisfy your tastebuds such as citrus fruits, sweeteners like honey, or liquor such as rum.

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