Making Cocktails At Home 101 & An Easy Colada Recipe

I’m not a huge drinker, but I do enjoy a good bottle of wine and a delicious cocktail here and there. I usually only have cocktails when I’m out with friends, and if I’m not having a margarita, I’m ordering something with rum. I can’t help myself; I’m Jamaican and rum is quintessentially Caribbean– a fancy way of saying rum is in our DNA. However, I’ve always been interested in learning the basics of mixology so I can make my own cocktails, and that’s why Corrie from is here today. Let’s learn how to make cocktails from scratch at home, then put your new knowledge to the test with her easy piña colada recipe, made exclusively for Adventures from Elle.

You can’t buy happiness but you can prepare a cocktail and it’s kind of the same thing.

Hey, my name’s Corrie and I write all about cocktails over at When Rochelle reached out to me about guest posting on her blog, I jumped on the opportunity. I asked her what direction she wanted to go in, and she replied “a drink with Caribbean flair, something with rum or coconut.” I debated about creating something super creative and original but instead decided to take *the* most popular tropical cocktail and make it a little easier and healthier.


Most people have had a Piña Colada. It’s probably the most well-known tiki cocktail out there, and for good reason. Pineapple and coconut are two flavors that were meant to be together, but I bet a much smaller percentage of people have ever made a Piña Colada at home. Or perhaps any cocktail at home. If that’s you, you’ve stumbled across the right post! I’m passionate about getting other people passionate about home mixology. So many people assume that making cocktails at home is too complex, too technical, and too expensive of a hobby. But I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it really is.

Before I share the recipe for my Easy Colada, here’s a crash course in cocktails.

Cocktails 101

Tools You’ll Need

  • a cocktail shaker (like this one)
  • lowball glasses (aka short glasses)
  • large ice mold- optional, but I do believe they make a difference

Yep. That’s really it. You can definitely buy a separate jigger (measuring tool), a bar spoon, and a separate strainer, but I’ve found I really only need a shaker. This cocktail shaker set is really affordable though and is seriously gorgeous. The large ice molds with not only make your homemade cocktail Instagram-worthy, it’ll also make your drink colder and keep it from watering down too quickly.

Ingredients to Invest In


If you’re starting at ground zero, pick 2-3 liquors you know you like. You can invest in more down the road.

  • vodka (a MUST in my opinion- it’s got a clean taste that blends well with all flavors)
  • whiskey or rum
  • gin or tequila

You’ll be surprised how many drinks you can make with just 3 liquors on hand. Don’t opt for flavored liquors just yet– they’ll limit you on what you can make. Also, don’t feel the need to splurge on top-shelf stuff! Start on the cheap side– you’ll be more likely to experiment with new flavors and recipes when you know you’re not pouring out $300/ounce (2USD). Plus, if you store the bargain booze into thrift store decanters, none will be the wiser.


Mixers & Extras

Keep these ingredients on hand and you’ll be able to make so many drinks whenever the urge strikes.

  • ginger beer
  • tonic water or club soda
  • flavored sparkling water (sweetened or non)
  • assorted fruit juice (cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, etc.)
  • simple syrup (don’t ever buy it! it’s way too easy to make)
  • lemons, limes, & oranges
  • fresh herbs (mint, basil, thyme, etc.)

Making the Drinks

There are a ton of simple cocktail recipes out there. Here are 17 easy recipes to get you started. Each one uses 4 ingredients or less. You can’t get easier than that. I also have a ton of other simple recipes on my blog. But, if you want to get creative in the kitchen and try your hand at making your own custom cocktails, here are some things to keep in mind.


To shake or to stir? Does it even matter? Both methods effectively get your drink cold and your ingredients mixed. The general rule of thumb is that cocktails with citrus juice get shaken, while other cocktails that are more spirit-forward get stirred.

To Shake a Cocktail

  1. Fill your shaker with some ice.
  2. Pour in your liquor of choice and any other ingredients- juice, simple syrup, jam, etc.). Don’t add anything fizzy just yet.
  3. Shake, shake, shake.
  4. Pour over ice in your low-ball glass.
  5. If you’ve got a carbonated mixer, pour it in the glass last.
  6. Stir, sip, & enjoy!

*If you’re going to use a fresh herb, put it in an empty cocktail shaker and pour in the alcohol. Muddle it with a muddler or the back of a spoon to bruise the leaves and release the oils. Then add the ice and carry on with the rest of the steps.*

To Stir a Cocktail

You can still use your cocktail shaker for this, just don’t… shake it.

  1. Add ice into your shaker, then pour all the ingredients in.
  2. Use a long bar spoon, or any other spoon, to quickly stir everything. When stirring, the idea is to keep the back of the spoon against the side of the shaker, keeping the stem of the spoon between your thumb and forefinger. But really, there are no bar spoon police out there so just stir it how you want.
  3. Strain the shaker into your glass of choice.

Garnishing Your Creation

Garnishes are technically optional, but I do feel they add a great deal to the whole experience of drinking a cocktail. Besides being visually appealing, some actually do add aromatic value. Smelling the mint, citrus, or chili powder that’s gracing the top of your beverage can really enhance the taste of it. After all, some say that 80% of the flavors we taste come from smell.

Now that you know the cocktail basics, you’ll feel equipped to make this Easy Colada.


Easy Colada Recipe

Piña Coladas utilize coconut cream and while it’s delicious, Coco Lopez (the favorite choice for coconut cream) has 130 calories in 1 ounce. Using sparkling coconut water instead not only makes the drink fizzy but only adds 7 calories per ounce. A traditional Piña Colada has around 245 calories, while this Easy Colada only has about 135 calories.

Let Rochelle and I know how you like it in a comment below!

Ingredients for an Easy Colada

How to Make an Easy Colada

Add the rum, pineapple juice, and Demerara syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, about 20-30 seconds. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Top off the rest of the glass with sparkling coconut water.


Wrap Up

There you have it! Now you’re equipped to make your own cocktails from home and you have an easy recipe to get you started. If you’d like to see more tropical drinks, check out Corrie’s Campari To-Kill-Ya, a classic daiquiri or Dark and Stormy, the same refreshing cocktail which the Joy Spence Appleton Rum Estate Experience used to kickstart their tour. They renamed it Stormy Valley since the Appleton estate is located in Nassau Valley. Clever, isn’t it?

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Must be 18 years or older to drink in Jamaica. Drink responsibly.

Read next: The Jamaica Rum Festival 2020: Recap & Highlights

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‘Til next time! ✌🏽

Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a travel blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. The blog is curated by Rochelle Knight, a junior resident (M.D.) in internal medicine and published author. She began the blog in 2016 as a medical student & wants to see the world, starting with her home country. Purchase her book 'SIGHTSEE JAMAICA' on Amazon and join her in Jamaica!

16 thoughts on “Making Cocktails At Home 101 & An Easy Colada Recipe

  1. This really does make it seem easy. I’m a light drinker and I mostly stick to wine or a rum-based drink because of familiarity but I definitely want to try this. ANd I got a shaker from a friend for Christmas so I’m motivated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great. I hope my friends get inspired to gift me a shaker too after this post, ha! My birthday isn’t that far away. 🙂 I plan to give this drink a try this evening actually, and Corrie has really inspired me to expand my alcohol tastes. Like you, I always stick to wine and rum-based drinks but I enjoy margaritas too. That’s my go-to cocktail. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. My beloved husband loves making cocktails at home. He regularly makes mojitos, caipirinhas, cosmopolitans, and Aperol spritzs. We have the makings for a pina colada, but it’s a bit too sweet for our taste.

    Liked by 1 person

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