There’s something about a specific flavour or taste that can instantly feel like you’ve travelled the world. Tequila and lime in Mexico, red wine and fruits in Spain, or white rum and mint on the beaches of Cuba. Cocktails have not only a fun way to connect you with a destination while you’re travelling, but also allow you to relive those travel memories once you’re back home. Whether you’re between trips or having a serious case of wanderlust, travel the world through your barware with these 10 travel-inspired cocktails you can make at home.
Beloved in Italy and making a big splash these days in North America, the Aperol Spritz is the aperitif of choice these days, even cracking the top 10 list of best-selling cocktails in the world in 2019. This “sunshine in a glass” is mainly made with Prosecco (sparkling wine). But what gives this cocktail its distinct orange hue is Aperol, a classic Italian bitter made of gentian, rhubarb, cinchona, and herbs. During the summer months, you’ll see glasses of Aperol Spritzes dotting outdoor patios but you can easily make this cocktail at home.
splash of club soda
Fill a wine glass with ice. Add Aperol, Prosecco, a splash of club soda and stir gently. Then garnish with an orange wheel.
A gin and tonic may be the drink of choice for the Queen of England, but a Pimm’s Cup is quintessentially British. Created in the mid-19th century by James Pimm, the drink was developed to accompany the shellfish served in his oyster bar in London. This gin-based liqueur was made with a secret mixture of herbs and fruits to aid in digestion. At the time, it was served in a tankard, called a No. 1 Cup, hence the name ‘Pimm’s No. 1 Cup’. Today, a Pimm’s cocktail is widely popular in England. It is one of 2 official drinks of the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament, plus the cocktail of choice for British and American polo matches. It’s very easy to make and goes down even easier! Just enjoy Pimm’s o’clock responsibly.
2oz Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
3oz 7-Up or Sprite (when you see British recipes calling for lemonade, they actually mean a carbonated sweet soda like 7-Up or Sprite)
slices of cucumbers, strawberries and orange
Fill a highball glass with slices of cucumbers, strawberries, orange and ice cubes. Add 2oz of Pimm’s and 3oz of 7-Up. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
No trip to Peru would be complete without tasting a pisco sour. Invented in the 1920s by an American bartender working in Lima, the pisco sour is Peru’s national drink and has become a classic cocktail in other parts of South America. (There’s an ongoing ownership debate between Chile and Peru, but I’ll leave that for another post). The base of this cocktail is made with pisco, a colourless liquor made from fermented grapes, mixed with freshly squeezed limes, simple syrup, egg whites and Angostura bitters to finish. It’s tart and refreshing, perfect on a bright sunny day.
1oz freshly squeezed lime juice
0.5oz simple syrup
1 egg white
A dash of Angostura bitters on top
Combine pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and the egg white into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously (work those arms!) and strain into an old-fashioned glass. Let the drink settle, so you get that distinctive white-foam top. Then garnish with 3-4 drops of Angostura bitters.
Nothing says Southern USA on a warm summer’s day like a mint julep. Tracing its origins back to the 18th century, the mint julep is beloved in many southern States. So much so, this cocktail is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby with over 100,000 mint juleps being served over the weekend-long horse races. It’s made with bourbon (Kentucky bourbon preferred), sugar, fresh mint leaves and shaved or crushed iced. It’s traditionally served in a pewter cup, but an old-fashion or highball glass will substitute just fine. Since it’s predominantly all bourbon, this drink can pack a punch. So, sip it slow and savour the flavours.
2oz Kentucky Straight Bourbon
0.5oz simple syrup or 1 tsp granulated white sugar
6-8 spearmint mint leaves
crushed or shaved ice to fill the glass
Combine the simple syrup (or sugar) and mint leaves in a glass and muddle together, enough to release the oils in the leaves. Add the bourbon and then fill the glass full with shaved or crushed ice. Garnish with a spring of mint leaves.
If the mint julep had a cousin, it would be the mojito. Sweet, citrusy and refreshing. The perfect cocktail to enjoy while lounging on a white-sand beach (or pretending to!). Created in Havana, Cuba, the mojito is made with 5 ingredients: white rum, lime juice, sugar, soda water, and spearmint leaves. Getting the right balance of flavours really depends on your ingredients, the sourness of the limes in combination with the appropriate amount of sugar, plus spearmint leaves (not just any mint leaf). It takes a bit more time and effort to make a mojito compared to most cocktails, but once you nail the recipe, the mojito will be one of your favourite go-to summer cocktails.
5-8 spearmint leaves
2 tsp white sugar
1.5oz white rum
1oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Put spearmint leaves and white sugar into a highball glass. Muddle together. Fill glass with ice. Then add the white rum, lime juice and fill the rest with soda water. Feel free to adjust the amount of ingredients used to suit your personal taste preference!
Sunshine, palm trees, and a warm ocean breeze. Nothing quite encapsulates the experience of a tropical getaway in a cocktail glass quite like a classic margarita does. The origin story of a margarita has been debated over the years but it’s safe to say this cocktail was created in northern Mexico in the early 1900s. It’s made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice served in a salt-rimmed glass. There are a few variations to serving a margarita: straight up, on the rocks, or blended with ice. But just remember how the saying goes, “1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila…”.
1.5oz tequila (white)
0.5oz orange liqueur (Cointreau is best)
1oz freshly squeeze lime juice
Dip the rim of your glass into simple syrup then dip into salt to coat the rim. Combine all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into the glass, being careful not to touch the salted rim.
As its name would suggest, this cocktail was created in Singapore by a bartender working at the famed Raffles Hotel in the early 1900s. ‘Sling’ refers to a classic style of drinks that were made with a spirit, mixed with sugar and water. Slings have evolved over the years as has the recipe for a Singapore Sling. This gin-based, sweet cocktail has a long list of ingredients, including Benedictine, cherry liqueur, and triple sec, so a bit of planning and preparation will have to go into making this drink.
0.5oz cherry liqueur
0.25oz Triple Sec
4oz pineapple juice
0.5oz freshly squeeze limed juice
splash of club soda
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except the club soda, and shake well. Pour into a hurricane-style glass and add a couple of ice cubes. Add a splash of club soda and stir gently. Top with a maraschino cherry and slice of pineapple.
Dark and Stormy
In contrast to Singapore Sling’s arm-long list of ingredients, the Dark and Stormy is a simple 3-ingredient cocktail. Invented in Bermuda, just after WWI, this cocktail is made with dark rum (Gosling Black Seal Rum originally), ginger beer, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. The ginger beer is a non-alcoholic carbonated beverage with a bit of a kick. The flavour of this cocktail varies based on the type of dark rum and ginger beer used but there’s a nice balance of flavours between the two that might just make this your new favourite cocktail.
2oz dark rum
4oz ginger beer
juice from a wedge of lime
Fill a highball glass with ice and add the lime juice, dark rum, and ginger beer. Stir gently to combine the ingredients. Garnish with a lime wedge.
I was first introduced to sangria back in the summer of 2004 while traveling through Spain. Served in pitchers and enjoyed sitting outside in a piazza (or square), I was hooked from my first sip. This fruity red-wine punch gets its origins from early Greeks and Romans who mixed their wines with fruits and spices. Alcohol was safer to drink than water in those times, so fruits, spices and herbs were often added to make it more palatable. Today, sangria is popular all over the world and many variations have sprung out of its humble roots including white-wine, rosé, and even blue sangria.
1 (750mL) bottle of red wine (cabernet sauvignon or merlot work best)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup club soda
½ cup brandy
¼ cup white sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 cup of blueberries
Mix all ingredients together in a large pitcher. Let mixture sit in the fridge for a few hours (overnight is even better) before serving. When ready to serve, add a few ice cubes to a wine glass, then fill with sangria, top with a splash of club soda (optional), and garnish with an orange wedge.
If you live in Canada, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy this final cocktail, the Caesar! Tracing its roots back to 1969, it was invented by Walter Chell, a bartender working in Calgary, Alberta, to celebrate the opening of a new restaurant. Inspired by his favourite pasta dish, spaghetti vongole, Chell used the dish’s clam and tomato flavours to make the Caesar. Similar to a Bloody Mary, the main distinguishing flavour is clam-infused tomato juice. Sounds rather off-putting at first, but trust me, it’s delicious! Mixed with vodka, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and rimmed with celery salt, you’ll find many Canadians enjoying a Caesar for brunch or during patio season in the summer months.
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes hot sauce
juice from ¼ of a lime
6oz Clamato juice (Mott’s Clamato is the best!)
Using the ¼ wedge of lime, run it around the edge of a highball glass. Then dip the rim into celery salt to coat. Carefully fill the glass with ice and add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lime juice (I also enjoy a bit of horseradish too). Then add the vodka and Clamato juice. Stir gently. Traditionally, a stalk of celery and a wedge of lime have been used to garnish a Caesar, but these days you can see everything from olives to pickled beans, mini burgers and even lobster tails!
What’s your favourite cocktail from your travels that you love to make at home? Let us know in the comments below!