7 Iconic Florida Cocktails That Taste Just Like Vacation
If you take it from one of about a million country songs, there's no better match for a balmy summer beach day than a chilled boozy beverage (or two pina coladas, perhaps?). So it's no surprise that a state with more than 1,300 miles of coastline has, over the decades, made its mark on the cocktail industry. From Hemingway's libation of choice at his favorite Key West bar to the deliciously creamy frozen concoction popularized at a panhandle outpost, here are Florida's most memorable made-for-vacation drinks.
Those who love the refreshing simplicity of this five-ingredient cocktail might not realize it dates back hundreds of years. Its origins lie somewhere in Cuba, but when the minty lime beverage had its renaissance in the early 2000s, it was largely led by restaurants and bars in Miami, where the Cuban influence and year-round warm weather made it a natural fit on menus. While countless fruity variations of the mojito have gained steam over the years, we're partial to the original—served, especially, in pitcher-sized portions.
Get the Recipe: Pitcher Mojitos
The indulgent drink with a funny name has become a bona fide Southern staple, but its inspiration has roots in the Caribbean. It all started in the '70s, when a Pensacola Beach bar owner happened upon an ice creamy cocktail of the same name in the Virgin Islands. Taken with its flavor, she brought the idea home and started experimenting with her own recipe. Today, the Kahlua-and-rum-filled milkshake remains the signature cocktail at Pensacola Beach's Sandshaker Lounge, where you can order it traditional-style, or infused with flavors of fresh fruit.
Get the Recipe: Caribbean Bushwacker
Consider the birth of this iconic Florida Keys cocktail a lesson in resourcefulness. When "Tiki John," the manager of Islamorada's Holiday Isle Tiki Bar, was faced with a surplus of rum and liqueur, he did what any smart bar owner would do: He invented a new drink. His concoction—a fruity blend of Meyers rum, banana liqueur, brandy, and grenadine—pays homage to the early bootleggers that called the islands home during prohibition. Nearly 50 years later, the Rum Runner is a signature sipper of Florida's tropical archipelago.
Get the Recipe: Rum Runner
Key Lime Daiquiri
While the exact origins of the famous Florida pie's boozy counterpart is a little fuzzy, key lime-infused beverages have become a source of experimentation for Sunshine State mixologists. Like the pie itself, variations of the drink are abundant—some are served creamy with a graham cracker crust, while others, like the tipple served up at Key West bar General Horseplay, feature elevated ingredients like orgeat syrup. Whatever your preference, the real star of the drink are the Florida-grown golf ball-sized limes, which deliver a sweet-tart flavor you can't replicate with the traditional Persian variety found at most grocery stores.
Get the Recipe: Key Lime Daiquiri
Category Five Hurricane
New Orleans might have invented the classic, boozy Hurricane cocktail, but Florida took it to the next level. At bars from Crabby Joe's in Daytona to the Sandbar in Cocoa Beach, you can pick your level of poison right off the Saffir-Simpson scale, with brave imbibers invited to tackle the Category 5. (At the Sandbar, the magic $25 elixir is loaded with white rum, spiced rum, coconut rum, dark rum, triple sec, and a 151 floater. Translation: Order an Uber.) For something (a tad) tamer, try our version of the classic stormy sipper, inspired by the original dreamed up at Pat O'Brien's in 1940s New Orleans.
Get the Recipe: Hurricane Cocktail
Ask Key West's most famous resident, Ernest Hemingway, what his version of a perfect daiquiri looks like, and you can bet there'd be no mention of blenders or sugary sweet infusions. "Papa," as he's affectionately called in the Conch Republic, preferred his libations shaken, with a healthy dose of tart citrus and (yes) alcohol. Head to Key West's Sloppy Joe's, rumored to have been the author's favorite watering hole, for their version of Hemingway's favorite sipper, the Papa Dobles (also known as the Hemingway Daiquiri).
Get the Recipe: Classic Daiquiri
Our vacation-mode selves would like to thank the South Florida bartender who thought up the genius idea of combining two classic beach-perfect cocktails into one perfectly Insta-worthy glass. The Miami Vice, a layered frozen slushie featuring one-part strawberry daiquiri and one-part pina colada, is thought to have been concocted several decades ago—contrary to popular belief, before the '80s crime drama of the same name made its debut.