Tru Bahamian Must Eat: Sky Juice
If there’s one drink you have to try while you’re in The Bahamas, it’s Sky Juice. People are always talking about this creamy cocktail, so we get a lot of questions on our Bites of Nassau Food Tour about Sky Juice: what it is, what’s in it, how it got it’s name, and the list goes on and on. We’re always happy to clarify, though, because this drink is amazing and even a point of national pride! And besides, who wouldn’t be curious about a concoction with the promise of a heavenly escape? Before you go out looking for a taste on-island or recipe for recreating at home, here’s a few facts about Bahamian Sky Juice to improve your foodie IQ- every good bartender has a great story!
Origins Of Sky Juice
Sky Juice, also known as Gully Wash among locals of the Bahamian Out Islands, dating back to the early 20th century, when cheap rum was flowing through the country during the American Prohibition Era. While locals had a taste for specialty cocktails, many did not often have access to canned juices or sodas to chase their liquor, so indigenous tropical fruit juices like that from coconuts became very popular additives to mixed drinks. Though a Tru Bahamian Sky Juice recipe calls for gin, which was cheap to buy for the poorer island folk during that period. The cocktail became a staple part of the Bahamian bar scene due to the accessibility of the ingredients and the cool, refreshing taste, making it the one of the popular local drinks among natives and visitors alike!
What’s In Sky Juice?
Credit: Hello Rigby
Sky Juice is a very simple, yet striking drink, somehow packing a big punch with only three ingredients. Okay, we admit, gin, the major rum ingredient, is powerful, but the smooth, silky flavor of fresh coconut water mellows the alcohol substantially. Fresh, young green coconuts are best, but you can always use canned coconut water, or local bottled coconut water like Coco Splash. Sometimes, your mixologist will cap your Sky Juice off at those two ingredients, gin and coconut water, but more often than not, an ample serving of sweetened condensed milk will be added to soften the bite of the gin. The milk adds a sweetness that balances the liquor and emphasizes the coconut’s natural flavor, giving you a truly heavenly drink that lives up to name.
How Sky Juice Got Its Name
Speaking of living up to it’s name, there are two prevailing assumptions as to how the name Sky Juice came to be. Some locals will tell you it’s because of the coconuts: the tale goes that coconuts grow up high in tall palm trees, so you’re essentially drinking the sky’s fruit juices. Others will tell you that it’s because of the colour of the assembled drink, for Sky Juice has a milky, cloudy color due to the mixture of condensed cream and gin. The truth is, however, that Sky Juice was a name concocted by the famous bartenders at Goldie’s Conch House, who leave the interpretations open ended. So, no matter which origin story you subscribe to, the drink is still guaranteed to be absolutely delicious.
Variations Of The Recipe
There aren’t many variations to Sky Juice, most bartenders and mixologists agreeing that the three staple ingredients of gin, coconut water, and condensed milk suffice, but there are a few additions that can take the drink up a few notches on the Richter Scale. Adding a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg highlights the coconut flavor, and adding another teaspoon or two of sugar gives the drink an extra boost of sweetness if the gin is still pushing for centerstage. Some bartenders here in Nassau will dab a bit of coconut rum or John Watling’s Pale Rum in your Sky Juice to add another level of flavor. We suggest adding some fresh coconut chunks for garnish, or even a fresh pineapple wedge.
At most establishments, the drink is also available in non-alcoholic (or “unleaded” as we say in the islands) variations, affording persons all the delightful tastes of heaven without the hellish hangover!
What We Eat With It
Credit: The House of Soon
Sky Juice is definitely a drink you want to enjoy around a hearty meal, having a solid Bahamian plate complete with Peas N’ Rice, Macaroni & Cheese, and Cracked Conch, or other fried fish and meats is recommended- it’s amazing how well-hidden that gin can be! Most locals reserve Sky Juice for an after-supper cocktail, since it’s very filling on its own and can be a sweet substitution for traditional dessert. Though we say, the best way to enjoy Sky Juice is over ice, slurped through a straw, and served out of a Styrofoam cup on the beach with a sinfully good snack such as Bahamian Conch Fritters.
Where To Find Sky Juice In Nassau
Credit: Athena Cafe
If you’re planning to be in Nassau in the near future, you’re in for a treat! Sky Juice is extremely popular among locals and visitors alike, so many bartenders in Nassau have mastered the art of Gully Wash. Hands-down though, the best places to get Bahamian Sky Juice downtown are:
Sky Juice King
Location: Arawak Cay
Hours: Mon-Sat, 10:00am – 6:00pm
How To Make Bahamian Sky Juice
Credit: Always Ravenous
Sky Juice is very easy to make because its list of ingredients is so short. Here in The Bahamas, we’re known for the 80/20 rule, 80% of your drink being alcohol with the remaining 20% being chaser, but we’ll keep things moderate here and leave the percentage of liquor per serving in your hands!
2 cups coconut water (4 green coconuts or 16oz canned/bottled juice)
1 cup gin (or white rum, if preferred)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
If using fresh coconuts, carefully poke a large hole in each shell with a hammer and screwdriver to retrieve water. Drain the water through a sieve to get rid of broken shell residue and pulp. Add the coconut water to a 1-2 liter pitcher along with gin and condensed milk. You may add more of gin and/or condensed milk to fit your preference. Add nutmeg and cinnamon, then mix well. Set pitcher in the refrigerator to chill for 1-2 hours. Serve over ice.
- For a tropical presentation, keep the coconut shell to pour the Sky Juice into before serving!
- Garnish your cocktail with a wedge of fresh pineapple or other fruits for a sweet treat.