The Caribbean is a region of the Americas in the Caribbean Sea and includes 30 territories made up of hundreds of islands, islets, cays, and reefs. The region has a rich food and drink culture, often utilizing the native plants and animals as well as the many introduced crops, spices, and ingredients.
While cocktails like the piña colada and mojito are some of the Caribbean's most popular exports, there are plenty of delicious non-alcoholic beverages that are fun to make it home. Whip up a drink or two and transport yourself to a warm beach without the price of a plane ticket.
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Made with fragrant West Indian bay leaves, this comforting hot tea will warm you up on a chilly night. It's incredibly easy to make—simply combine dry leaves with water, boil, let steep, and drain. Serve with milk and sugar or honey or drink as-is. Some believe that bay leaf tea can help to lower blood pressure and aid with digestion. Regardless, the caffeine-free herbal drink is a comforting brew.
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This Puerto Rican take on eggnog doesn't contain a single egg or require any cooking, making it especially easy to whip up a batch for the holidays. The base is a mixture of cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk, which is blended with spices to form a thick and creamy treat. Coquito usually contains rum but it's easy to simply leave it out for a mocktail version.
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Banana milkshakes (sometimes called banana punch) are popular in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. This smoothie variation is a little healthier than most recipes with the addition of vanilla yogurt, but you can swap for vanilla ice cream if you like. The addition of honey makes this a sweet treat with or without the ice cream.
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Papaya is a tropical fruit that's naturally sweet and creamy, making it a no-brainer for blended drinks. It's popular in the Dominican Republic (where it's known as lechosa) and can be found in "milkshakes" or smoothies. This recipe combines fresh fruit with milk, lime juice, and sugar for a refreshing sweet treat. Serve bright orange batida de lechosa on a hot summer day as a light dessert.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Coffee has historically been grown all over the Caribbean, so it's no surprise that the region has a thriving coffee culture. A drink known as Cuban coffee combines dark, strong espresso with whipped sugar for a sweet and rich caffeine boost. A strong arm and a little patience is the key to creating the signature foamy crema top—don't let the word crema fool you, the mixture is milk-free. Serve after dinner for a nice palette cleanser.
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The piña colada is a classic tropical cocktail from Puerto Rico. It's usually made with rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut, but this virgin recipe switches things up a bit. Coconut milk is easier to find and adds creaminess while frozen pineapple makes the drink fruity and frosty. Add a little brown sugar to taste if it's not quite sweet enough and a handful of ice to make it extra cold. You won't miss the rum one bit.
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A mojito combines fresh lime, mint, sugar, white rum, and club soda for a thirst-quenching cocktail. This mocktail version drops the rum with equally refreshing results and makes it an ideal summertime drink for the whole family. Honey syrup is used instead of sugar for a little more flavor. There's no cooking involved; simply stir the honey together with water so that it will readily dissolve in the drink.
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If you're looking to beat the Caribbean-style heat, try cooling down with a tropical smoothie. Pineapple and coconut provide tons of fruity flavor in various forms, included frozen, flakes, milk, and juice. Add some yogurt for a creamy protein boost and honey to taste. Try swapping out some of the pineapple for other island fruits like papaya, banana, and mango.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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While hibiscus tea recipe is singled out as a Mexican agua fresca in this recipe, using hibiscus for tea likely originated in Africa and is popular throughout the continent, Central America, and the Caribbean. The dried flowers produce a bright red tea that has a flavor similar to cranberry. It can be served hot or cold and can be sweetened to taste with sugar or honey.
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Soursop (also known as guanabana, thorny custard apple, and thorny mango) is beloved in South America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and tropical islands like the Caribbean. While the fresh fruit looks imposing, it has a flavor somewhere in between cherry and pineapple with a creamy texture similar to banana. Look for the frozen fruit or pulp and combine it with other tropical fruit to make flavorful smoothies.