With summer around the corner, I can’t help but daydream about summer patios, BBQs, and coolers filled with layers of ice and booze. In this post, I’ll explore some classic West Indian beverages that will definitely bring back some childhood memories of summer, and prove to be quick fixes for those of us who are dreaming about being on a beach. All of the drinks are easily accessible at your nearest No Frills (Canadian grocer) and are under $1.
What is it: Jamaican Grapefruit Soda
What it taste like: A bit tangy-er than Western grapefruit juice. My favourite summer cool down drink. The carbonation and the intense citrus flavours hit the spot on a hot day. If you are not a citrus person, stay clear!
Mamma’s tip: Serve over crushed iced, and if you are feeling adventurous add a shot (or two) of dark rum for a refreshing cocktail
What is it: Definitely not beer in the traditional sense (i.e.: hoppy). A broad label used to describe a staple Island drink made from ginger undergoing a natural fermentation process. There are many brands that make their own version; the one pictured above is by Graces (a popular island go-to brand).
What it tastes like: Ginger Ale that just punched you in the balls. Very strong ginger flavors, only intensified by the carbonation. A great addition to a summer day, especially if you suffer from heat nausea. If you don’t like ginger, maybe take a pass on this one.
Mamma’s tip: Serve over ice or cold – if it’s warm or room temperature it may be too strong or off-putting. If you’re adventurous, add a shot of rum for an extra kick!
What is it: Pop – the term “Kola Champagne” is widely used by many Latin American and Caribbean countries, and comes in a variety of brands.
What it tastes like: Childhood in a bottle. Tastes like a cross between cream soda and a hint of coke.
Mamma’s tip: Limit one bottle of kola champagne per kid. Otherwise your kid will be more turnt than a carnival dancer.
What is it: Malt beverage from Barbados brewed from hops (like beer) without the fermentation process.
What it taste like: It is an acquired taste. Stress on acquired. It taste like carbonated molasses, however it starts to grow on you after a while!
Mamma’s tip: Mix it with Guinness (½ and ½) – the sweetness of the drink and the bitterness of the beer will balance out. Apparently it is supposed to be good for your blood (according to my great-grandmother) – however I’m not a doctor, so don’t sue.
What is it: Classic island drink that is made from peanut butter, milk products, and sugar.
What it tastes like: A peanut butter milkshake. I grabbed the last peanut punch from the aisle – that’s how good it is.
Mamma’s tip: For more adult fun, add a shot of rum or grand mariner to your drink and serve over ice.
What is it: Pop – Banana is a more popular flavour of pop and is produced by a variety of brands. The brand pictured is from Trinidad
What it tastes like: Childhood in a bottle. Also tastes like a cross between cream soda and banana flavoring. At first it may taste odd, but then you’ll take another sip, and want another sip, and another… you get the idea.
Mamma’s tip: The company produces other flavors – find the one that best suits you (without getting diabetes)
Grace Coconut Water
What is it: As implied – manufactured coconut water
What it tastes like: Water with coconut flavoring. For West Indians, this will never cut it close to the real thing. However it’s a ‘quick fix’ if you are not skilled in the art of chopping open a coconut.
Mamma’s tip: Make a West Indian friend that can chop open a coconut for you
Bedessee Cream Soda
What is it: Pop on Crack – West Indian cream soda by Bedessee
What it tastes like: My absolute favourite drink when I was a child. It is cream soda made from pure cane sugar and it is 100x sweeter than its Western counterpart. If you don’t like sweet drinks, stay clear!
Mamma’s tip: Enjoy chilled or over crushed ice.