A Taste of the Caribbean: Extend Those Summer Vibes With These Rum-Based Recipes From Nevis
Four Seasons, Nevis. Inset: Kendie's Kick Cocktail. Photos: Renée Suen
Nevis, which is located in the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, was once known as the “Queen of the Caribees” for the many sugar plantations that dotted its lush, mountainous landscape in the 18th century. It takes less than an hour to drive around the island, where you’ll find unspoiled beaches of white coral or black volcanic sand with vast stretches of cerulean waters extending beyond its shores.
The island is also known for its geothermal energy, thanks to Nevis Peak, a potentially active volcano at its heart. You can take a dip in the mineral-rich thermal pools at Bath Village’s Nevis Hot Springs, which reaches up to a searing 108 F. This is where locals bathe, claiming its therapeutic benefits.
Although many visit Nevis for its beauty and its outdoor adventures, from mountain biking to game fishing, water sports and hiking, I travelled to this West Indies paradise for its mangos. And not just one, but a staggering 44 varieties (that’s the official count, but unofficially, some locals claim 200!). Mangos are so beloved that since 2014, the country has dedicated an entire weekend to celebrate the sweet and sugary fruit during peak season at the Nevis Mango Festival.
Outside of the mango-injected dishes at the festival, I gorged on every mango variety I encountered. While the juicy and succulent Julies weren’t in season when I visited in July, I tried the island’s self-branded Amory Polly. There was non-fibrous Grafted mango in salsa that accompanied doov pork made at The ‘Lil Cherry Tree. Green and floral Polly mangos made an appearance sliced off the pit at Carbo’s (where I sampled their stew-like goat water) and was blended into a thick smoothie at The Heritage Cafe. While Passion Bar & Grill satisfied sweet and savoury cravings with its homestyle combo plate (it was the only time I broke away from having mango on my plate). At Sunshine’s Beach Bar, I downed Nevis’s most popular drink, the Killer Bee. The sweet rum punch is made from a proprietary recipe and garnished with — you guessed it — a piece of mango.
Despite my love and search for everything mango, it was the tangy sweet combination of tamarind and passion fruit found in the Kendie’s Kick cocktail at Four Seasons Resort Nevis’ Mango Restaurant that left the deepest impression.
Created by award-winning mixologist Kendie Williams, this punchy, balanced and slightly tart drink taps into local Caribbean flavour. Besides using the resort’s bespoke rum, Crowned Monkey Rum, it contains fresh tropical fruit purées and ingredients sourced from the resort’s herb garden.
We might have just welcomed the autumnal equinox, but here are a couple ways to extend those warm weather feels that are a touch sweet and slightly boozy in a very good way.
Served at the Four Seasons Nevis’ Mango Restaurant
Note: Make this non-alcoholic by using rum extract or dealcoholized rum.
Makes 1 drink
2 oz (57 ml) Crowned Monkey Rum (or any spiced rum)
1 oz (28 ml) vanilla rum (the resort uses Brinley)
1 oz (28 g) tamarind purée
1.5 oz (42 g) passion fruit purée
0.5 oz (14 ml) lime juice
1 dash of Angostura bitters
Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and strain into glass.
Four Seasons Nevis Rum Cake
Makes 1 cake, serves 8
⅞ cup (180 g) sugar
1 small (40 g) egg
1 cup (220 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
2 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
240 g mixed dried fruits
100 ml dark rum
¼ cup (60 ml) water
1 cup (200 g) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) rum
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. It should be noticeably lighter in color. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs mixture, then fold in the dried fruits and rum.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester, long toothpick or strand of uncooked spaghetti inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.
- Leave the cake in the pan to cool slightly while you make the syrup.
- To make the syrup: In a medium-sized saucepan combine the syrup ingredients, except the vanilla, and bring to a rapid boil then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Use a long skewer and poke holes all over the cake. Pour about a ¼ cup of the syrup over the cake (still in the pan). Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat the process until all the syrup is used. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit overnight at room temperature to cool completely and soak in the syrup.
- To serve, loosen the edges of the cake from the pan and invert it onto a serving plate. If the cake doesn’t release from the pan, warm it in the oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes to help the syrup soften. Remove the cake from the oven, and tip it onto the serving plate.