When it comes to relaxing in Puerto Rico, there's nothing quite like a specialty island cocktail at the end of the day. Not only do the native Puerto Ricans love a good alcoholic drink, they also love their rum and tequila-based mixed drinks.
Margaritas, mojitos, new takes on old classics, local twists on well-known libations, and aged liquors abound at bars and restaurants all over Puerto Rico. While many establishments have their own colorfully named versions of these cocktails, you can typically identify and find some of the island's most popular drinks at the island's many restaurants and bars.
Whether you're looking for a place to grab a favorite specialty cocktail or you want to try something new on your vacation to Puerto Rico, you're sure to find something you'll enjoy among these popular island cocktails.
Don Q is a Puerto Rican rum distillery company named after its founder Don Juan Serrallés who produced the island's first casks of rum and founded the town of Mercedita (near Ponce, PR). The Don Q punch is a classic summer cocktail made with Don Q Gold, a dash of grenadine, two ounces of orange juice, two ounces of pineapple juice, and an orange or cherry slide for garnish. Most bars in San Juan and Ponce, which both have Don Q distilleries nearby, will offer some version of Don Q Punch.
Hailing from the nearby island of Cuba, Bacardi is another tropical rum favored by Puerto Ricans, and you can find a variation of the classic hand-shaken mojito at most bars and restaurants around the island—just ask for Bacardi as they might want to pour you Don Q instead. If you want to make it at home, start with Bacardi Superior Light, add lemon and two tablespoons of sugar.
Although not technically an island cocktail, the Dragon Punch at Dragonfly and Dragonfly Too on Old San Juan's Fortaleza Street is popular among Puerto Ricans. Opened since 2000, these two restaurants offer a hybrid of Latin and Asian menus that feature sushi flavored with Puerto Rican spices and tacos made of popular Asian dishes like peeking duck. If you want to make it at home, the Dragonfly Dragon Punch recipe calls for guava, passionfruit, and ginger punch mixed with Don Q limón rum.
When most people think about ordering a Latin American cocktail, they usually think of either a margarita or a piña colada, but very few people actually know where these great cocktails came from. A restaurant in Old San Juan, Barrachina, claims to be the originator of the now world-famous piña colada cocktail back in 1963 when the restaurant was recognized as the king of "Paella." Its bartender at the time, Don Ramon Protas Mingot, was said to have invented the tasty beverage, and there's even a plaque outside proclaiming the fact.
Caged in the famous Parrot Club in Old San Juan, the Parrot Passion blends passion fruit, orange, Bacardi limón and triple sec. Parrot Club has an extensive list of exotic drinks, but the Parrot Passion is one of the local favorites at this long-time island institution. Other popular choices include the guava rum punch and the classic mojito, both made with Don Q rum, and the Tormenta Tropical, a 36-ounce cocktail made with Flor de Jamaica elixir, guava punch, coco rum, spiced rum, and lemon-lime juice.
Refreshing, not too sweet, and bursting with summer flavor, watermelon sangria is the specialty at Aquaviva, one of Old San Juan's most fashionable restaurants. Made from fresh watermelon and lime juice blended with rosè wine and sold by the pitcher or glass, this restaurant signature cocktail goes great with the fresh seafood menu Aguaviva is known for. Other cocktails on the menu include a classic Mojito, a classic piña colada called the piñata, and a special "melojito" made with watermelon juice, all of which can be served virgin or with Don Q rum.
The Mist Rooftop Bar and Kitchen at the Water and Beach Club Hotel in Isla Verde has a special cocktail called the Coco-Nuts Martini that coconut lovers are sure to enjoy. Made up of premium COCO Vodka, flavored coconut rum, and coco cream, this sweet cocktail is best enjoyed from the roof deck overlooking Isla Verde. Mist Rooftop also offers daily happy hour specials, so be sure to stop by around sundown to enjoy the view and a drink, and there are also live DJs on Thursday through Saturday nights.