When our second-ever Guest Bartender Marc Farrell (founder of Ten To One rum) mentioned he’d like to do a Caribeño tutorial, our response was, “Sounds good. But what is that?” He explained the drink - essentially a highball with coconut water, lime, and rum - and we immediately wondered why we’d never heard of this before. It seemed exactly like something we’d want to drink, and, turns out, it is.
This cocktail was officially invented in 2009 by a bartender named Martin Cates - although the combination of rum and coconut water has been around a lot longer than that. In fact, it’s one of the first things that come to mind when Marc thinks about “how somebody drinks rum or experiences rum in the Caribbean.”
Marc left Trinidad at the age of 16, went to undergrad at MIT, and attended both the University of Cambridge and Harvard Business School, before eventually becoming one of the youngest VPs in Starbucks history. That brings us to late 2018, the year he co-founded Ten To One.
In the words of Marc, Ten To One exists, in part, to help rum achieve the “same elevated status that it might enjoy in the Caribbean.” This isn’t to say there isn’t already plenty of good rum out there, but there is, undeniably, a disparity between how it’s viewed in the US versus the Caribbean. “Rum in the US, I think, has over time felt very narrow, a little bit caricatured, somewhat trope-ish,” he says. In terms of how it’s marketed to a US audience, he notices a lot of “pirates, plantations, sea monsters,” and other “post-colonial vestiges.”
So avoid any rum with a pirate on the label, and try to find a lesser-known brand from, say, Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, or Nicaragua. Once you find a good one, use it to make this refreshing highball that you can mix up in under a minute. It’s incredibly simple, and if you were previously unaware of its existence, you should treat this day as a national holiday. Celebrate with a Caribeño.
Makes one Caribeño
- 4 ounces coconut water
- 1.5 ounces white rum
- .25 ounce lime juice
- .25 ounce simple syrup
- Lime wedge
Step One: Lime Juice
When you add acidity to a cocktail, the effect is similar to watching a movie with 3D glasses on. It brings a new layer of flavor and helps balance any sweetness - so find a lime, juice it, and pour .25 ounce lime juice into your cocktail shaker.
Step Two: Simple Syrup
Coconut water has a bit of sugar, but not enough for this cocktail, so we’re going to need to add a touch of simple syrup. If you don’t know how to make this, just mix equal parts white sugar and warm water, then stir until the sugar is dissolved. Put .25 ounce simple syrup in your cocktail shaker.
Step Three: Coconut Water
Next, you need to add your coconut water. You don’t have to buy a whole coconut and crack it open - just get a quality brand at your local store, and make a 4-ounce contribution to your cocktail shaker.
Step Four: Rum
When it comes to choosing a rum for your Caribeño, try to find a good, punchy white rum with some grassy, banana-y, or even coconutty notes. Ten To One Caribbean White obviously works great - but if you can’t find that, ask the people at your local liquor store to recommend something. Whatever you choose, pour 1.5 ounces into your cocktail shaker.
Step Five: Shake
Technically, you could just throw all these ingredients into a glass, and your Caribeño would still be great. But shaking your drink will get everything properly chilled and slightly diluted, and it’ll ultimately make for a more refreshing drink. So go ahead and add 5 or 6 ice cubes to your cocktail shaker, and shake for around 15 seconds. Once you’re finished, pour your cocktail over ice in a highball. It should look cloudy and mysterious, and it should taste like an empty beach in July shortly after sunrise. Add a lime wedge for garnish.