Jamaican cuisine is addictively delicious but don’t get so caught up in the food that you forget to try out some iconic Jamaican drinks, too! There are plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from on this beautiful little island.
From light beers and trendy cocktails to traditional aphrodisiacs and world-class coffee, these are the top 13 drinks to order in Jamaica!
Now found all across the island, the Bob Marley cocktail was created by Sandals Resorts as a tribute to the reggae superstar.
With its frozen layers in the bright colors of the Rastafarian flag, you can spot this drink from a mile away!
A Bob Marley typically calls for three kinds of rum: dark, gold, and white. Each is mixed with a different fruit juice: usually strawberry for the red layer, pineapple or mango for the yellow layer, and melon for the green layer.
You can also get a Bob Marley as a shot or — even better — a flaming shot!
When you think of liquor in Jamaica, you’d probably think of Jamaican rum first!
Rum is made from sugarcane and its history in the Caribbean traces back to colonial-era plantations.
Rum has a high alcohol content: 40–75%. Jamaicans are generous, even when it comes to pouring rum, so be cautious of how much you drink! It’s the base for most local cocktails.
The most popular brand is Appleton Estate, which offers dark and gold varieties. Another one is Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum.
This versatile Jamaican cocktail finds itself on the menu at almost every bar and gathering on the island.
Everyone has their own recipe for rum punch but there are a few key ingredients. The choice of rum is usually Appleton or Wray & Nephew. Coconut-flavored rum isn’t too uncommon, either.
The liquor is combined with fruit juice — usually a tropical one such as pineapple, guava, or lime. Grenadine syrup or Jamaican strawberry syrup is also commonly added.
Tia Maria & Dirty Banana
Tia Maria is a liquor that is uniquely Jamaican but isn’t actually made in Jamaica! It’s made in Italy with Jamaican sugar, rum, and Blue Mountain Coffee, in addition to spices. This drink is best sipped on the rocks, with cola, with milk, or mixed into cocktails.
One particular concoction, the Dirty Banana, is what you get when you combine a Tia Maria with banana, milk, and more rum. For a unique cocktail, try ordering one of these. Yes, your bartender will make a joke about you wanting a dirty banana. And, yes, it’s all in good fun!
Red Stripe is one of the most ubiquitous alcoholic drinks in Jamaica — you can find it in almost every store, restaurant, and bar!
This lager beer isn’t anything outstanding but it’s refreshing and smooth, making it a perfect choice for casual sipping at lunch or on the beach.
Red Stripe is made from hops, malt, and cassava starch. There are flavored versions available, including apple, lemon, melon, and sorrel, as well as a light version.
Looking for a beer that doesn’t pull any punches? Dragon Stout often flies under the radar compared to the lighter and more agreeable Red Stripe but it’s definitely worth a try!
This dark, smoky, heavy-bodied beer gets its richness from the brown sugar, roasted malt, and caramel that go into it. Many people note that it has a molasses-like aftertaste.
Dragon Stout is only made in Jamaica, so you’ll want to get a taste while you’re here. It’s also one of the earliest beers to have been brewed in the Caribbean!
For a sweeter and milkier rum drink, try rum cream (or, if you’re fancy, rum crème).
This drink is made by mixing rum with sweetened condensed milk, cream, chocolate syrup, and other ingredients. You may be familiar with similar drinks such as Bailey’s Irish Cream or Mexican Kahlua Crème.
Just like straight rum, rum cream is incredibly versatile. It’s great served on the rocks, as part of a cocktail, or in coffee.
Not sure if you’re in the mood for a sweet drink or a bitter one? Try ordering a chilled Guinness punch for the best of both worlds!
The recipe differs from place to place but this spin on the iconic stout typically mixes Guinness with vanilla, sweetened condensed milk, oats, and cinnamon or nutmeg. Sometimes vodka is added for an extra kick.
Guinness punch is strong yet smooth and easy to make at home, too, if you find that you like it after trying it during your vacation!
Blue Mountain Coffee
Noted for its richness yet lack of bitterness, this coffee comes from Jamaica’s largest mountain range. The fact that Blue Mountain Coffee is limited to just a single area makes it highly coveted and quite expensive.
Blue Mountain Coffee is everywhere, in hotels, cafes, grocery stores, and gift shops. There are many different brands, each with their own distinctive blends, so don’t be afraid to try a few to see which one you like best.
Interestingly, Jamaicans actually aren’t that big on coffee! Most prefer tea. The majority of Blue Mountain Coffee is exported, with a very large portion of it going to Japan.
Sorrel is a Christmastime drink made from dried hibiscus buds. It’s well-loved in Jamaica and much of the Caribbean!
Traditionally, in preparation for Christmas, a family makes their own jug of the stuff by juicing the buds by hand and mixing it with sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and other spices. The resulting drink is sweet and spiced, with a deep red hue.
Though it’s still most popular in December, sorrel is now commonly enjoyed year-round. You should be able to find it no matter when you visit Jamaica!
It doesn’t matter whether you call it soda, pop, or fizzy drink, you should try Ting while you’re in Jamaica! This soft drink is made from Jamaican grapefruit concentrate and is equal parts tart and sweet with a hint of bitterness.
Fun fact: Ting gets its name from the Jamaican Patois pronunciation of the word “thing”. With its characteristic flavor and catchy name, Ting is a local favorite and many Jamaicans’ go-to soda. It’s also very commonly used in cocktails and goes especially well with vodka or rum.
Irish Moss is made with algae from Jamaica’s shores and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s.
This weird yet fascinating health drink was introduced to Jamaica by Irish laborers who brought the algae with them to the island in the 1800s. It’s believed to give energy and is also supposedly an aphrodisiac.
It’s an acquired taste for sure but it’s worth a try! Irish Moss isn’t too palatable on its own and so is often mixed with milk, honey, and spices. Tip: it’s best enjoyed over ice.
“Tea” is the generic word for any hot beverage in Jamaica, though the word is usually used to refer to bush tea.
Bush tea is made from local plants or tree bark that have various health benefits. Some common ingredients used to make bush tea are mint leaves, sorrel, soursop leaves, and dandelion.
The knowledge of the medicinal effects of different plants has been passed down from generation to generation in Jamaica. If you tell a Jamaican that you’re not feeling well, it’s likely that one of the first things they’ll do is suggest that you should have some tea; they’ll probably recommend which one, too!