11 Puerto Rican Drinks You Have to Try
When you’re soaking up the sun on a beautiful Puerto Rico beach or dancing the night away at a nightclub, you’re sure to get parched. Lucky for you, the Isle of Enchantment has plenty of signature drinks and cocktails to satisfy your thirst. Whether you prefer Puerto Rican rum mixed with tropical flavors or a nice light beer, you’re sure to find your new favorite drink during your vacation on the island. Check out this list of the best Puerto Rican drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — to try on your trip!
We have to start, of course, with the national drink of Puerto Rico, the piña colada. The origins of this signature drink are hotly debated to this day. Most accounts agree on the fact that the drink was invented in San Juan. Some stories claim that it was first concocted at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in 1954 by a creative bartender. However, if you head to Barrachina restaurant, you’ll find a plaque at the entrance that says this is the birthplace of the drink, where it was invented by a Spanish mixologist in 1963.
While we don’t know exactly who to thank for creating this tropical cocktail, you can still enjoy it in its many varieties all over the island! In the classic version, pineapple juice is strained and mixed with coconut water or cream, crushed ice, and a local rum like Don Q (more on this below). It’s usually finished with a bit of whipped cream, a slice of pineapple, and a classic maraschino cherry on top. If you want to skip the rum, you can still enjoy all the fruity sweetness of the drink with a non-alcoholic version.
There are many variations of the piña colada (like the chi chi, which is made with vodka), but one of the most popular on the island is the amaretto colada. This delicious take on the classic cocktail has the addition of almond liquor, adding a rich, nutty flavor. While this seems like a small variation, it really changes the flavor profile, making it more suitable for a sophisticated evening drink than a beach-side cocktail.
This traditional spirit is often called Puerto Rican moonshine since it has historically been produced at home by distilling sugarcane or molasses. The drink is usually infused with other flavors like sliced fruit, coffee, or hazelnut. It’s a strong drink that is sure to warm you up. You often see pitorro around the holidays, when it’s enjoyed on its own or incorporated into a cocktail. It’s not easy to find unless you’re hanging out with the locals, but in recent years, legal varieties have started to be produced, and you can find them at the grocery stores.
This fermented drink is popular in Vieques, where its star ingredient, the quenepa, is abundant in the summer. Quenepas are small, tart fruits that grow on mamoncillo trees. When quenepas are in season, they’re added to rum along with other ingredients like brown sugar and cinnamon to make bilí. The concoction ferments in a dark place for about a month, though each family has their own formula and process. When it’s ready, it makes for delicious, light, sweet shots, perfect for getting the party started! Bilí goes down easy, so be sure to drink responsibly.
If you’re a fan of eggnog, you’re sure to enjoy Puerto Rico’s coquito, a holiday drink made with coconut milk and cream, white rum, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and spices. If you visit the island during the holidays, you’ll find coquito at every store, beautifully bottled and ready to gift as souvenirs — that is, if you don’t drink it all yourself. Much like bilí, each family has their own coquito recipe. It could include vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and more. Some even use homemade pitorro rather than rum. Served chilled or over ice, it will remind you of the holidays at home while adding a tropical twist.
For a special treat made with this iconic drink, you can try the Coquito Tres Leches dessert at Salitre Meson Costero.
Medalla Light Beer
Sometimes all you want when you’re lounging at the beach is a cold light beer. The most popular option in Puerto Rico is Medalla, a lager-style beer produced in Mayagüez. This is the only beer mass-produced on the island, and it’s perfect to sip on as you enjoy the stunning views from one of the many beautiful beaches or small islands.
There’s no better way to start your night than with a chichaíto, a local Puerto Rican shot made with anisette liquor and white rum. The usual rum of preference for this drink is Palo Viejo, which is mixed in equal parts with the anisette, shaken over ice, and poured into a shot glass. The sweet licorice flavor makes it go down easy, but you’ll definitely feel the kick of rum. Other variations include chichaíto de coco and even chichaíto de Nutella. If you’re partying with the locals, you’re sure to encounter this popular drink at any bar!
If you’re a spirit-lover visiting Puerto Rico, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying the many popular varieties of rum. The top-selling rum on the island is Don Q, a favorite of the locals. It’s produced in the Destilería Serrallés in Ponce, and it can be found in a variety of cocktails all over the island. Here are some of the locals’ favorite ways to enjoy Don Q.
This classic rum cocktail, whose name translates to “free Cuba,” is a favorite across the Caribbean. It’s a simple mix of rum, Coca Cola, and a squeeze of lime served over ice. It’s not a Cuba Libre if it doesn’t have lime! The best rum for this cocktail is Don Q Añejo, an amber rum aged for at least 3 years.
Don Q Limón with Cranberry
For a fruitier option, you can enjoy a refreshing Don Q Limón with cranberry. Just as the name implies, this cocktail combines Don Q Limón, a key-lime flavored white rum, with cranberry juice, served over ice. The pretty color is enough to entice any cocktail lover!
If you’re looking for non-alcoholic refreshment, you’ll find endless options with the islands’s popular limbers. Somewhere between a popsicle and a drink, a limber is a tropical juice drink frozen in a cup. There’s no popsicle stick here, so it’s consumed by squeezing the cup to push up the frozen juice. The flavor variations are endless, including coconut, piña colada, tamarind, guava, orange, and many more. This refreshing popsicle/drink is delicious for all ages, perfect for cooling down during an active day at the beach or exploring San Juan.
You won’t go thirsty in Puerto Rico, an island full of delicious tropical drinks for all tastes. Be sure to try at least a few of these when you’re visiting the island, and bring back the recipes for your favorites so you can share them with friends. Just don’t forget to hydrate!
To get a full taste of Puerto Rico’s unique flavors, check out at a food and drink tour in San Juan!