Coconut lovers, this Coconut Martini is for you! A lightly-sweet, creamy cocktail, it’s intensely flavored with coconut. Serve it in a shredded coconut-rimmed martini glass and enjoy a taste of the tropics any time of year.
The La Playa Beach and Golf resort sits directly on the beach in Naples, on the sunny southwest coast of Florida. The resort’s upscale restaurant, Baleen, overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and has amazing sunset views. The restaurant places a few select tables right in the sand near idyllic fire pits. So, you can enjoy excellent seafood with shoes off and toes in the sand. I first tasted the resort’s amazing Coconut Martini sitting at one of these tables and fell instantly in love.
(Note: The La Playa Beach and Golf Resort and its restaurant Baleen experienced damage from Hurricane Ian in September of 2022. At this writing, the resort is closed, with a plan to open in early 2023.)
I am a true coconut lover and I appreciate the fact that the flavor of this martini is all coconut – no pineapple or lime or other distractions, with the possible exception of a hint of vanilla. And it’s not too sweet, not too strong. I couldn’t get the martini out of my head. So, I wrote to the resort begging for the recipe. And the bartender happily obliged.
I added a coconut-dipped rim to the recipe, both for the taste and the beauty of it. I hope you enjoy this coconut martini as much as I do.
This coconut martini makes a fun and festive addition to your next cocktail party, particularly one with a tropical-theme. Serve it with some yummy nibbles such as Spicy Tuna Tartare with Horseradish Aioli, Mushroom Tartlets or Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Tarragon Tart.
Cream of Coconut
Do not confuse cream of coconut with Thai coconut cream. Cream of coconut is a very sweet blend of coconut puree and sugar. It is quite thick and spoonable and is the key to every delicious piña colada. For years (decades?), the Coco Lopez brand of canned cream of coconut ruled the cocktail world. But newer entrants, such as Coco Reàl, have brought innovation, such as a squeezable bottle. It’s so much better than the old cans, which always pose a an issue with how to store the leftovers. Coco Reàl solves this problem beautifully. Simply close the cap and stick it in the refrigerator for next time.
There are many excellent vanilla vodkas on the market. The bar at Baleen uses (Stolichnaya) Stoli Vanil. Stoli now produces it’s vodka in Latvia (not Russia – an important consideration in the current geopolitical environment). The company only uses natural vanilla bean products from Indonesia and Madagascar to flavor its vodka, and adds no sugar in the process. It’s slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so, and is very, very smooth. At this writing, it is available in the US for around $16 a bottle. It’s my first choice for this recipe.
Veil Vanilla Vodka, distilled in the USA, is less expensive than Stoli (around $12 a bottle) and is quite a bit sweeter. Veil distills its vodka 5 times and runs it through a charcoal filtering process, so it is also quite smooth.
I’ll also mention super premium Ciroc French Vanilla vodka. When launched in 2017, the company announced that it would donate $1 for every bottle sold (up to $100,000) to Mama Hope, a non-profit focused on ending extreme poverty in Africa and Central America. It’s a more expensive option, at $33 a bottle. Ciroc has a rich, silky and creamy taste .
Baleen Restaurant uses Bacardi Coconut Rum for their coconut martini. Infused with real coconut, Bacardi Coconut Rum is lightly sweet and gives off serious tropical vibes. But like vanilla vodka, there are many other coconut rums to choose from.
Molasses-based and hailing from St. Kitts, Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coconut Rum was awarded a 90 point rating by Wine Spectator Magazine. They praised Brinley Gold’s “bold coconut flavor,” sweetness and mouthfeel. It’s a more difficult coconut rum to find in stores, but if you see a bottle, grab it!
I would stay away from super-premium coconut rums, such as Coconut Cartel. At around $40 a bottle at this writing, it is an excellent rich and oaky sipping rum. It’s not particularly sweet or coconut-y, and you actually want sweet and coconut-y qualities for this coconut martini (or really any tropical coconut cocktail).
- finely shredded coconut
See recipe card for quantities.
To make the coconut rim, pour a ring of cream of coconut on a cutting board, just about the diameter of your martini glass rim. Create a second ring of about 2 TB of shredded coconut on the same cutting board. Dip the rim of each martini glass first in the cream of coconut, and make sure it is coated all around. Then dip the rim into the shredded coconut. The coconut will adhere to the thick layer of cream of coconut.
For 2 martinis, pour 2 oz cream of coconut, 2 oz of vodka and 3 oz of rum into a martini shaker. Add 1 cup of small ice cubes or crushed ice to the shaker and cover with the lid. Shake vigorously, holding the top of the shaker for 5-10 seconds. Strain the coconut martinis into the prepared martini glasses and enjoy!
Variation: Lower Alcohol Coconut Martini
This is, after all, The Portion Queen blog, whose mission it is to promote healthy food in served in healthy portion sizes. Obviously, alcohol is on no one’s “healthy” list of foods. But I’m also a believer in enjoying life and enjoying everything in moderation. That includes a glass of wine with dinner quite often and a cocktail every once in a while.
However, I find that the older I get, the less alcohol I can tolerate. And many people in general are trying to cut alcohol consumption for health reasons as evidenced by the growing popularity of “Dry January,” mocktails and low-alcohol cocktails. As with most cocktails called “martinis,” this Coconut Martini is a fairly powerful drink. You can lower the alcohol content without sacrificing flavor or enjoyment by cutting the vodka and rum in this recipe by half and adding unsweetened coconut water to the martini shaker. So, for 2 coconut martinis, the recipe becomes: 2 oz cream of coconut, 1 oz of vanilla vodka, 1 ½ oz of coconut rum and 2 oz (or more) coconut water.
Although you can certainly rig up a shaker using kitchen glasses, there is something elegant and satisfying about using a real cocktail shaker. There are two types on the market: one type with a built in strainer and another style that requires the use of an externally applied strainer. This is a matter of personal preference. Here, I highlight two reasonably priced, highly rated shakers (one of each type) to consider.
My favorite shaker with integrated strainer is the BrüMate 20oz Triple-Insulated Stainless Steel Shaker. With over 1,500 “5 star” reviews on Amazon, it is an excellent choice with it’s leak-proof top and glass top which also doubles as a tumbler. And if you’ve ever used a full stainless cocktail shaker before, you probably have experienced the phenomenon of the cold contracting the metal parts, causing the top to be almost impossible to remove after shaking. The BrüMate avoids this issue, since the top is glass, not stainless steel.
This stainless steel cocktail shaker set from ETENS is highly rated, value priced and includes a 24 oz martini shaker, muddler (for mojitos!), strainer, measuring jigger, alcohol pourer and mixing spoon. It was a requested gift this past Christmas by a family member and they love it!
A traditional martini glass is long-stemmed, with a bowl shaped like an inverted volcano. But there are so many beautiful variations available, from the whimsical to the elegant. Here are a few highly rated styles.
For the classic, elegant martini glass shape, go with Vintage Crystal Martini Glasses from NUDE. These lead-free glasses are strong, yet very thin and are dishwasher safe. They “ring” with a beautiful harmonic sound when you tap them and capture and refract light beautifully.
Stemless martini glasses, though not traditional, are gaining in popularity. I love these Cosmopolitan Martini Glasses from Libbey. This stemless shape is perfect for creative cocktails like this Coconut Martini and these glasses are sturdy and stable. They also do double-duty, since they are a great size and shape for serving food, such as appetizers and desserts.
Avoid spiced rums for this coconut martini recipe. Also, regular white or dark rums will work, but you won’t get quite the intense coconut flavor that you get by using coconut rum. True cream of coconut is a must for this recipe. Do not use Thai coconut cream.
Traditionally, a martini is a cocktail made of gin and dry vermouth, in a ratio of 2-1, often garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon. It was an extremely popular cocktail during the Prohibition years of the 1920s, because illegally produced gin was readily available. After Prohibition, the quality of gin produced legally improved dramatically, resulting in a much smoother spirit. It followed that martinis became much drier, since less vermouth was necessary to soften the bite of harsh gin. Over the years, other spirits, such as vodka, have been used as variations of the original gin martini. And today, cocktails such as Cosmopolitans are called martinis, simply because they are served in a martini glass. That is also the case with this Coconut Martini. It’s not a true martini, but rather a coconut cocktail served in a martini glass.
The most famous coconut cocktail is the piña colada, which is made with cream of coconut, pineapple juice and rum, typically blended with ice into a frozen drink. This coconut martini recipe, which its really a coconut cocktail served in a martini glass, is made with cream of coconut, vanilla vodka and coconut rum, shaken with ice. It’s quite a bit stronger than a piña colada and is much more intensely coconut flavored.
- 2 oz cream of coconut, plus additional for the rim
- 2 tablespoon finely shredded coconut flakes
- 2 oz vanilla vodka, Stoli preferred
- 3 oz coconut rum, Bacardi preferred
- 1 cup small ice cubes or crushed ice
- To make the coconut rim, pour a ring of cream of coconut on a cutting board, just about the diameter of your martini glass rim. Create a second ring of about 2 TB of shredded coconut on the same cutting board. Dip the rim of each martini glass first in the cream of coconut, and make sure it is coated all around. Then dip the rim into the shredded coconut. The coconut will adhere to the thick layer of cream of coconut.
- For 2 martinis, pour 2 oz cream of coconut, 2 oz of vodka and 3 oz of rum into a martini shaker. Add 1 cup of small ice cubes or crushed ice to the shaker and cover with the lid. Shake vigorously, holding the top of the shaker for 5-10 seconds. Strain the coconut martinis into the prepared martini glasses and enjoy!
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