Just as inextricably linked to St. Lucia as the emerald twin peaks of The Pitons are sugarcane and chocolate — both factor into the most delectable drinks you’ll encounter on this lushest of tropical islands.
Walking into the production area of Saint Lucia Distillers, you can’t help but notice the bubbly fermenting tanks emitting that unmistakably earthy-sweet aroma of molasses. After the yeast does its job on the yellow liquid, it’s transferred to the adjacent still and destined for rum greatness … perhaps shaken into a potent daiquiri or mai tai back at your resort’s swim-up bar.
The distillery, located on the west coast in the Roseau Valley, dates back to the late 1950s; today, the company produces more than 25 white, aged and flavored rums, liqueurs and other potables. Among them is the award- winning line-up of Chairman’s Reserve Rum, first blended in 1999 using continuous and pot stills. (Worth snagging is a bottle or two of that line’s The Forgotten Casks, a sipping spirit crafted to mimic that of barrels preserved during a devastating fire in 2007; three additional years maturing in former bourbon barrels produces a smooth, vanilla-tinged stunner.) Saint Lucia Distillers welcomes guests daily for the hour-long Rhythm of Rum experience, starting with a short film and tour of the facility and concluding with an invitation from your guide/bartender to belly up to the tasting bar for a sampling of as many iterations of the sugarcane spirit as you care to try.
Afterward, you’ll definitely spot some familiar bottles when you head to The Cacao Bar at Rabot Hotel, the only accommodation owned and operated by U.K.-based confectioner Hotel Chocolat. The hotel, open-air restaurant, spa and cocktail lounge all pay homage to St. Lucia’s cacao industry, dating back to the 1700s. Settle into a seat at a table overlooking Petit Piton to peruse the menu; chocolate in one form or another touches many of the drinks and dishes. Order a cacao martini with vodka, estate-pressed cacao pulp, lemon verbena and soursop juice, or opt for a rum old-fashioned with a dash of chocolate bitters. What might be most unexpected is its cacao gin, whose hit of juniper is joined by a finish of bitter-dusted cocoa; it works unbelievably well in a negroni spritzed with the citrus oil from an orange peel.
If you stay for lunch or dinner (and you should, if only for the seared scallops with crushed cacao nibs and the most luxuriously decadent mousse au chocolat on the planet), be sure to pick up a bottle of Velvetised Chocolate Cream liqueur on the way out. Long after the mist has faded from those iconic mountains, you can relive the sweet memory of your island sojourn with every luscious sip.
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