5 Summer Cocktails from Latin America

Nuestro Stories Staff
 | June 6, 2024

The Daiquiri. The Margarita. The Cuba Libre. These aren’t just part of a drink menu for an amazing summertime party. These are some of the world’s most famous, and loved, cocktails. And they were all invented in Latin America. Let’s get to know these five summer cocktails from Latin America, just in time for backyard parties.

5 Summer Cocktails from Latin America

Here are five summer cocktails from Latin America, to get the fiestas started this summer.

The Daiquiri: The daiquiri cocktail traces its origins to Cuba. It was supposedly invented by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox during the Spanish–American War of 1898. Cox was in Cuba at the time, and he mixed this delightful concoction of white Cuban rum, lime juice, and sugar. “This distinctive drink rose to popularity in the United States during the 1940s. Vodka and whiskey were rationed during World War II, making the spirits hard to come by,” ABC Fine Wine & Spirits explains. “However, due to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, which opened trade and travel relations with the Caribbean, rum became easily obtainable.”

Originally served in a tall glass with cracked ice, the daiquiri has since evolved into the classic shaken version we know today. It combines rum and lime juice, served in a glass with a salted rim, creating a blend of sweet, salty, and sour flavors.

The Caipirinha: The caipirinha was created in Brazil and has become the country’s national drink. It features cachaça (a sugarcane-based liquor), sugar, and lime. It’s believed that it was invented in 1918 for medicinal purposes.

“One of the most accepted stories states that caipirinha has originated in the state of São Paulo towards the end of World War I,” the site 196Flavors writes. “The original caipirinha recipe consisted of cachaça, lemon, honey and garlic and it was initially prepared as an elixir for patients suffering from the Spanish Flu.”

The popular Brazilian cocktail only has four ingredients: cachaça (a sugarcane distilled spirit), lime, sugar, and ice.

The Margarita: The Margarita – the tangy and refreshing cocktail, made up of tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and ice – has multiple origin stories rooted in Mexico.

One story comes from the local Mexican government in Ensenada, Mexico. This story claims that hotel and casino owner Majorie King Plant walked into the Andaluz Bar to order a “magnolia” drink in 1948. Not remembering the ingredients for Marjorie’s magnolia cocktail, the bartender improvised. He added some limes and white tequila and then named it the margarita in his client’s honor. Today, the cultural center even boasts a “plaque” outside the historic building to mark the cocktail’s creation.

Another popular, but unbacked claim, says the drink was named after Spanish-American actress Margarita Carmen Cansino — aka 1940s pinup girl Rita Hayworth, while she was in Tijuana, Mexico. 

The Cuba Libre: Just as the drink’s name claims, this cocktail is from the Carribean island of Cuba. “According to company lore, Bacardí rum quenched the celebratory thirst of Cuban independence during the Spanish-American War,” Liquor.com explains.

In Havana, in the early 1900s, a United States Army captain mixed coke and lime into Bacardi rum, toasting “Por el Cuba libre!” (“For a free Cuba!”). Thus, the Cuba Libre was born.

What makes the Cuba Libre cocktail different from a Rum and Coke? Many Bartenders say it comes down to the rum. “When someone orders a Cuba Libre, I reach for the light Spanish style rum, which usually happens to be Bacardí,” Jane Danger, the beverage director at Cienfuegos in New York City and co-author of “Cuban Cocktails: 100 Classic and Modern Drinks” says.

The Piña Colada: The Piña Colada has an origin story rooted in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1954, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Perez, a bartender at the Caribe Hilton Hotel, may have crafted the original Piña Colada. “First as a non-alcoholic combination of coconut cream and pineapple juice, then later with rum,” The Cocktail Society explains. “And just like that, Perez invented one of the most famous summer cocktails in the world.”

Other bartenders, like Ricardo Garcia, also claim credit for its invention. While Bartender Ramón Portas Mingot declared he created it in 1963 at the Barrachina Restaurant in San Juan. 

Regardless of the true origin, in 1978, Puerto Rico officially declared the Piña Colada their national drink.

Hand-painted feature image, and all cocktail images, courtesy of Deposit Photos.

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Feature image: National Puerto Rican Day Parade. June 11, 2023, New York, USA: The National Puerto Rican Day Parade which is the largest demonstration of cultural pride takes place on 5th Avenue in New York with people lining up the avenue dancing and cheering — Photo by thenews2.com; courtesy of DepositPhotos.
Photo courtesy New Africa/DepositPhotos.
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