The Bahama Mama is a unique, tiki-styled mixture of dark, overproof and coconut rum, coffee liqueur, grenadine, and lime, pineapple and orange juice. Our version of this tiki staple adheres closely to many classic recipes to create a rich exotic drink with a subtle, chocolatey touch of coffee liqueur and the nutty sweetness of coconut. This is a long, summery cocktail, perfect for a tiki menu.
Dark Rum, Overproof Rum, Coconut Rum, Coffee Liqueur, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice, Grenadine, High-Ball*
*premium glassware pictured, event glassware may differ.
The Bahama Mama is a pretty run-of-the-mill, tropical-fruit-and-rum, tiki cocktail, except for the inclusion of a drop of coffee liqueur which provides an extra warmth, depth and richness and an almost chocolatey sweetness.
The addition of coffee liqueur elevates this cocktail without overpowering it and makes it a unique and delicious tiki drink and a great inclusion for a rum based or tiki style bar hire.
Unlike many of its tiki cousins, the Bahama Mama is not a hugely potent cocktail, whilst it still calls for a combination of rums as well as the all important coffee liqueur, the relatively small measurements of liquor and high volume of juice when compared to other tiki cocktails, make this a good lower ABV choice to round out a powerful tiki menu.
Those planning a rum based menu may want to serve a range of sweet and dry cocktails, like many tiki drinks the Bahama Mama is quite a sweet cocktail. To suit the tastes of those guests who prefer a stronger, dryer cocktail you may want to think about pairing this with some more classic rum drinks like the Mojito or the classic Daiquiri.
The Bahama Mama has a lot of ingredients which makes it a fairly complex cocktail to make and it could prove a little slower to serve than other drinks. Those wanting to include the Bahama Mama on their menu may want to include some simpler cocktails to help regulate speed of service; Dark & Stormys are a great quick rum drink with enough balance to suit all palates.
If you’re planning on featuring the Bahama Mama on your menu and want to know more about what drinks may be good to serve alongside it, be sure to speak to your event organiser about your options, or check out some other rum-based, tropical and tiki style cocktails from our list.
Like many tiki cocktails, the recipe for a Bahama Mama is pretty open for interpretation.
Various cocktail books and websites list recipes for this classic drink which vary hugely from publication to publication. Whilst almost all recipes specify coconut liqueur, coffee liqueur or a combination of the two, some omit both these ingredients entirely, opting for more of a Hurricane-style rum punch.
One generally agreed upon fact is that this cocktail takes its name from Caribbean dancer and performer, Dottie Lee Anderson, who also performed under the stage name, ‘Bahama Mama’, and even featured on the US Billboard charts during the 1950’s. There were also a number of goombay and junkanoo (native music styles of the Bahamas) songs named Bahama Mama throughout the 50’s that may have inspired the name.
Some theorise that the cocktail’s creation and popularity can be attributed to the Bahamas’ use as a port for smuggling rum during the prohibition.
Though there isn’t much dispute regarding the origins of this tiki drink, one bartender does claim to be the originator; Oswald ‘Slade’ Greenslade was a Bahamas born bartender and owner of the famous Banana Boat Club in the Nassau Beach Hotel from 1993-1999. Greenslade claims to have invented the Bahama Mama, in his book, One More Cocktail: A Guide to Making Bahamian Cocktails.
Myths & Legends
With such a widespread popularity and variety of recipes, it’s surprising that there isn’t much controversy surrounding this classic tiki drink.
With no original or official recipe agreed upon there doesn’t appear to be any set rules to making the Bahama Mama.
Whilst Bahamian bartender, Oswald ‘Slade’ Greenslade, claims to have invented the drink—with seemingly little evidence to back this up—there doesn’t seem to be any disputes to his claim, despite the first appearances of the drink being only 10 years after his birth in 1943, perhaps he was a mixological child prodigy.
References for the Bahama Mama are pretty few and far between which is surprising considering its widespread recognition and popularity.
There are many recipes listed for this in books including Dale Degroff’s The Craft of The Cocktail and Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. Regan provides his brief opinion of the cocktail as follows:
“This is a decent tropical drink, but you might want to try adding less pineapple juice to cut the sweetness a little.”
- Gary Regan, The Joy of Mixology, p.210
Whilst this cocktail’s history is fairly vague and mostly unconfirmed, what information we were able to garner on it came mostly from a handful of useful websites. The Lost Tiki Lounge, had this to say on the classic tiki drink:
“There are quite a few variations out there that are just waaaay too luminous and way too nasty. As is the way with many tiki drinks, its origins are murky and it’s been abused throughout the ages. Mostly with sugar. And colourings. And Boney M. (Those lyrics!)”
- Anonymous, The Lost Tiki Lounge, https://thelosttikilounge.com/cocktails/bahama-mama-guide/
The song which the author refers to in the above quotation is Boney M’s Bahama Mama. This song doesn’t seem to have much to do with the cocktail other than sharing its name. We’ll let you make your own mind up on its quality.
Ingredients & Equipment
As with many tiki drinks, the spirits in a Bahama Mama are masked under layers of fruit juice and liqueur so using top-shelf ingredients certainly isn’t a requirement. As ever though, quality is still important and depending on the rums and liqueurs used in this drink the flavour can vary hugely.
We recommend using a rich, high quality dark rum like Gosling’s Black Seal and a full-strength coconut rum like Koko Kanu, as opposed to lower strength, more well known coconut-and-rum-flavoured liqueurs.
For overproof rum we use Wray and Nephew, this Jamaican brand has been in production since 1825 and it is estimated that over 90% of rum sales in Jamaica are made up of this infamous product.
There are an increasingly large number of coffee liqueurs available, varying both in strength, sweetness and flavour. When making a coffee based drink like an Espresso Martini we would certainly recommend a high quality option like Mr Black Cold Press Coffee Liqueur, but in the Bahama Mama the coffee flavour serves only to sweeten and enrich the rest of the cocktail, a classic, sweet coffee liqueur like Kahlua or Tia Maria is a great option.
15ml Dark Rum
10ml Overproof Rum
15ml Coconut Rum
25ml Orange Juice
25ml Pineapple Juice
25ml Lime Juice
1-2 Dash Angostura Bitters
Cocktail Cherry and Orange Slice to Garnish
Tiki Mug or High-Ball Glass
- Take your Boston glass or small tin
- Using your jigger to measure, add the rum, Kahlua and juice to the shaker
- Using your Mexican elbow and a jigger to measure, squeeze 25ml of lime juice and add to the shaker
- Using your bar spoon(5ml), measure 5ml of grenadine and add to the shaker
- Add a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters
- Fill your shaker with cubed ice and seal
- Shake Vigorously for 10-15 seconds or until your tin is very cold
- Using your Hawthorne strainer strain the drink into your glass
- Fill glass with fresh cubed ice
- Garnish with a cocktail cherry and an orange slice
- Serve and enjoy!
For larger groups of six or more students, we offer the option to take things private. Our classes are fully portable, and we are able to set ourselves up efficiently and professionally in a wide variety of locations and settings across the capital, the UK, and beyond. You name the location, and we’ll endeavour to make it happen.
Give one of our dedicated event organisers a call on 020 8003 7982. They’ll happily talk you through your options, and answer any questions you may have about both our mobile and in-house cocktail making classes.