top of page
  • Writer's pictureIris

Beachy Cocktails

What could be better at the beach than a refreshing cocktail?

Most cocktails commonly associated with warm weather that I enjoy that are are made with rum, tequila, or vodka. Not a huge gin fan, sorry! If you've got suggestions for a good summery gin-based cocktail for me though, please pop them down in the comments below.


Let's start with rum-based cocktails. Rum is made from sugar, specifically molasses, and is generally categorized into light and dark. Cocktails using rum that I particularly enjoy are: Pina Colada, Mojito, Daiquiri, Cuba Libre, Dark 'n Stormy, and Rum Swizzle.

Pina Colada

Pina colada cocktail on a table
Do you like pina coladas? Getting caught in the rain? (sorry, couldn't help myself)

Now when people hear Pina Colada, thoughts usually drift to the slushy ice versions, but you can make a version better than the ones served in those yard-long plastic tubes on Bourbon Street.

Originating in the 1950s from Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Pina Colada was actually originally prepared with a shaker, not a blender. White rums are best for this cocktail and Myers's Platinum Rum is a readily available option. If you want to splurge, go for Don Q Grand Reserva Anejo XO.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces light rum

  • 1 1/2 ounces cream of coconut (do not sub with coconut milk or coconut cream)

  • 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Garnish: pineapple wedge

  • Garnish: pineapple leaf

  1. Add the rum, cream of coconut and pineapple and lime juices to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds.

  2. Strain into a chilled Hurricane glass over pebble ice.

  3. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and pineapple leaf.


Moe-hee-toe... moe-hee-toe... super fun to say and super fun to drink!

Hailing from Cuba (much like our Havanese puppy Elvis), this refreshing cocktail consists of all native ingredients found on the island. It takes a little more effort than mixing some of the other cocktails because you have to muddle the mint, but it is a key component (always use spearmint).

A go-to choice for mojito is Bacardi Superior, which is a good basic light rum; otherwise try The Real McCoy 3-year aged or Havana Club Anejo Blanco.

Recipe from

  • 3 mint leaves

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 2 ounces light rum

  • 3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Club soda, to top

  • Garnish: mint sprig

  • Garnish: lime wheel

  1. Lightly muddle the mint with the simple syrup in a shaker.

  2. Add the rum, lime juice and ice, and give it a brief shake.

  3. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.

  4. Top with the club soda.

  5. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wheel.

Bonus: if you already have mint and simple syrup on hand, then grab some Maker's Mark and you can make Mint Juleps!


Photo Credit:

Also hailing from Cuba, this is another drink that is often prepared as a slushy drink but the original recipe calls for shaking instead. Bacardi Superior is a standard choice, but if you want to branch out go for Don Q Cristal.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces light rum

  • 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Garnish: lime twist

  1. Add the rum, lime juice and demerara sugar syrup to a shaker with ice, and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

Cuba Libre

Photo Credit:

I had my first official Cuba Libre on a bachelorette trip to Puerto Rico when we went on a tour of Casa Bacardi. It happened to be at 10 in the morning, but we figured it was 5 o'clock somewhere, so it was all good! Everything before that was simply a rum and Coke to me.

Also I insist on exclaiming "Cuba Libre!" whenever I say it, since the story around its name was that an American serviceman raised it with this toast in Havana around the time of the Spanish-American War. After America's win, not only was Cuba free from Spanish rule, so was the Philippines... so I guess I could also exclaim "Pilipinas Libre!" when I drink this (my parents are Filipino).

Again, Bacardi is a pretty much the default for this cocktail, but if you want to branch out a little and get a little vanilla flavor going, try Captain Morgan's. Or spring for Gosling's and you can make the Dark 'n Stormy as well (that recipe is coming next).

Recipe from

  • 1 ounce rum

  • 3 ounces Coca-Cola

  • Garnish: lime wedge

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice, then add rum and Coca-Cola.

  2. Garnish with a lime wedge. Squeeze the lime into your drink, if desired.

Since I do love me a good Cuba Libre, had to try it with Gosling's while we were In Bermuda, where it is called a "Black and Coke"... and speaking of Bermuda...

This is not actually a Cuba Libre, it is technically a "Black and Coke" since it was made with Gosling's Black Seal in Hamilton, Bermuda... tasty!

Dark 'n Stormy

I first had this great cocktail during a port call in Bermuda. It can only officially be called a Dark 'n Stormy if you use Gosling's Black Seal Rum - super refreshing and love the depth that the ginger beer brings to this cocktail.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal rum

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Ginger beer, to top (about 5 ounces)

  • Garnish: lime wedge

  1. Add rum and lime juice to a tall glass filled with ice.

  2. Top with the ginger beer.

  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

If you're going to buy ginger beer (Barritt's, Gosling's, Fentiman's) to make this cocktail, then you can also use it to make Mules, and Moscow Mules (vodka), and London Mules (gin). In a pinch, I suppose you could use ginger ale, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Rum Swizzle

If you're going to pick up Gosling's Black Seal for a Dark n' Stormy, then while you're at it you might as well go ahead and pick up a bottle of Gosling's Gold Seal to make this classic cocktail, the national drink of Bermuda.

Recipe from; note: this is for a pitcher of 4 drinks.

  • 4 ounces Gosling’s Black Seal rum

  • 4 ounces Gosling’s Gold Seal rum

  • 8 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed

  • 8 ounces pineapple juice

  • 3/4 ounce grenadine

  • 6 dashes Angostura bitters

  • Garnish: orange slice

  • Garnish: pineapple wedge

  • Garnish: cherry

  1. Fill a pitcher a third of the way with crushed ice, then add the two rums, orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine and bitters.

  2. Churn vigorously with a swizzle stick (or bar spoon) until frothing.

  3. Fill four rocks glasses with fresh ice, and divide the contents of the pitcher between the glasses.

  4. Garnish each drink with an orange slice, a pineapple wedge and a cherry.

Not looking to pull all of these ingredients together? Well, the good news is that the Splash Bar is just a short walk from Bella Vista, and is located by the Splash Waterpark in the Embassy Suites pool complex.

The better news is they serve a modified version called Caribbean Punch, which also has two kinds of rum, but then adds mango pineapple vodka and swaps the OJ for cranberry. The best news is that they serve it in a bucket! Pro tip: keep the bucket to get discounted refills (ask me how I know).

I did not drink that entire bucket myself, I split it with a friend because sharing is caring.


One tequila, Two tequila, Three tequila, FLOOR! Hopefully doing shots of this in your youth didn't completely turn you off from this spirit. Made from the blue agave plant, there are 3 main types of tequila: blanco (unaged/white), reposado (aged at least two months), and anejo (aged at least 1 year).

Now let's move onto some cocktails I enjoy that use this spirit as their base: Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, Paloma, and Bloody Maria.


... searching for my lost shaker of salt ...

Yet another drink that is often prepared as a slushy, I prefer mine as a regular sipping cocktail. Use a blanco that's made from 100% blue agave like Herradura Silver.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila

  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur (Cointreau)

  • 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup

  • Garnish: lime wheel

  • Garnish: Kosher salt rim (optional)

  1. Add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and agave syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.

  3. Garnish with a lime wheel and kosher salt rim (optional).

Tequila Sunrise

For a cocktail that is less fussy to make, go for a Tequila Sunrise. You build it directly in the glass and it only requires 3 ingredients, so use good quality like Patron Silver. To get its signature look, you have to pour it a certain way.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila

  • 4 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/4 ounce grenadine

  • Garnish: orange slice

  • Garnish: cherry

  1. Add the tequila and then the orange juice to a chilled highball glass filled with ice.

  2. Tilt the glass and slowly pour in the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom of the glass, creating a layered effect.

  3. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.


This is another make-in-the-glass cocktail, the only twist is that it calls for grapefruit soda, which can typically be found in Mexican groceries. Jarritos is the classic choice, but Squirt and Fresca are also used. You could also substitute grapefruit juice and then add club soda to get the fizziness. A recommended choice for this cocktail would be Olmeca Altos Plata, but a reposada could work too.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • Grapefruit soda, chilled, to top*

  • Garnish: lime wheel

  • Garnish: Kosher salt rim (optional)

  1. Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a highball glass, and dip the rim in salt (optional).

  2. Add the tequila and lime juice to the glass, and fill with ice.

  3. Top with grapefruit soda, and stir briefly and gently to combine.

  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

*If substituting with grapefruit juice and club soda, add 2 ounces of each and 1 tsp granulated sugar. Then you have to shake until the sugar dissolves.

If you swap out the tequila for vodka here, you get a Palomita.

Bloody Maria

Speaking of swapping, if you take a Bloody Mary and swap out the vodka for tequila, then you have a Bloody Maria. I think Bloody Marias are a smoother hair of the dog option.

There are a lot of ingredients in this one (two different hot sauces!), especially if you go crazy with garnishes. To keep things simple while on vacation, I'd opt for a good Bloody Mary Mix like Mr. & Mrs. T's instead, which also come in cans in case you are not making a batch for a large group. A simple blanco should do, or you can try something fancier like Azunia's blanco.

Recipe from

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila

  • 4 ounces tomato juice

  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish, to taste

  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce

  • 2 dashes Tapatio hot sauce

  • 1 pinch celery salt

  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

  • Garnish: lime wedge

  • Garnish: lemon wedge

  • Garnish: cucumber spear

  • Garnish: sweet pepper slices

  • Garnish: jalapeño pepper slices

  • Garnish: queso fresco


Originating in Sweden, Poland and Russia, vodka is made from distilling fermented grains, or sometimes potatoes. It's probably the most popular spirit out there.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary with a ridiculous amount of garnish
Yes, this was a Bloody Mary that was actually consumed while on vacation. Yes, that is a chicken wing. Yes, that is a bacon cheeseburger.

Keeping with the hair of the dog theme, we're back to a classic choice for a weekend brunch. If you want a Bloody Mary mix with a briney flavor, try McClure's, which will complement any pickles you throw in. While I wouldn't necessarily categorize this as a 'beach cocktail' I definitely associate a Bloody Mary with leisurely mornings and relaxing on vacation.

Reyka is an Icelandic vodka that would be a solid choice, however on my list to try is an American craft option called Dixie Southern Vodka, they are actually from Charleston, SC. I think their Black Pepper flavor would be pretty darn good with this cocktail. There's also an intriguing recipe that uses Old Bay Seasoning that sounds scrumptious, especially garnished with some cocktail shrimp - yum!

Recipe from

  • Celery salt

  • 1 lemon wedge

  • 1 lime wedge

  • 2 ounces vodka

  • 4 ounces tomato juice

  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce

  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch smoked paprika

  • Garnish: parsley sprig

  • Garnish: green olives

  • Garnish: lime wedge

  • Garnish: celery stalk

  1. Pour some celery salt onto a small plate.

  2. Rub the juicy side of the lemon or lime wedge along the lip of a pint glass.

  3. Roll the outer edge of the glass in celery salt until fully coated, then fill the glass with ice and set aside

  4. Squeeze the lemon and lime wedges into a shaker and drop them in.

  5. Add the vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire, black pepper, paprika, plus a pinch of celery salt along with ice and shake gently.

  6. Strain into the prepared glass.

  7. Garnish with parsley sprig, 2 speared green olives, a lime wedge and a celery stalk (optional).

John Daly

Back to more simple vodka-based cocktails, this one is simply an Arnold Palmer with a kick. If you swap the vodka for rum, you've got a Backyard Iced Tea. This one is an easy recipe to scale up into a pitcher or a jug to bring to the beach.

Recipe from

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka

  • 2 ounces lemonade

  • 2 ounces iced tea

  • Garnish: lemon wheel

  1. Add all ingredients into a highball glass with ice and stir briefly to combine.

  2. Garnish with lemon wheel

Cape Codder & variations

These next drinks are based on the foundation of vodka and cranberry.

Cape Codder

Recipe from

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka

  • Cranberry juice, chilled, to top

  • Garnish: lime wedge

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.

  2. Add the vodka and top with cranberry juice; stir briefly to combine.

  3. Squeeze a lime wedge over the glass and drop it into the drink.

Sea Breeze

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka

  • 3 ounces cranberry juice

  • 1 1/2 ounces grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed*

  • Garnish: lime wheel

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.

  2. Add the vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice; stir briefly to combine.

  3. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Bay Breeze

Same Sea Breeze, just substitute pineapple juice for the grapefruit juice.

Ingredient Round-up

So this has been fun walking through many of my favorite drinks! However we also want this post to be helpful our guests who are planning their vacation to Bella Vista. Below is a comprehensive shopping list to help you get all the necessary ingredients to make these tasty cocktails.

Download PDF • 269KB

The file contains a page dedicated to each of the three spirits I've highlighted. Each column shows the ingredients needed to make that particular cocktail, based on the recipes in this post, and the rows try to group similar items together to help you out when you're in the store, e.g., all the fruit is in a row. (Hint: buy a lot of limes)

Coaster reading Cheers! Drinks on Me
Our Bella Vista coasters are so friendly, the drinks are always on them! (we hope) Please help save our tabletops!

Time to shop

Several liquor stores close to Bella Vista are listed below and also in the hard copy Guest Information book on-site. If you're looking for a specific brand, you might want to call ahead for availability.

Giff’s Liquor | 9612 N Kings Highway (in Kroger Plaza)

Straw Market Liquor Store | 9619 Shore Drive (next to Flip Flops Bar and Grill)

Arrowhead Spirits | 890-B Lake Arrowhead Road

Did I miss any good cocktails that you love? Please pop them down in the comments, we'd love to hear from you! Cheers!

90 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page