When you’re dreaming of lazing on a tropical island, after the initial visions of the sea and sand accented with a hammock strung between two palm trees, what’s the next image that comes to mind? How about a refreshingly, icy and fruity tropical drink garnished with a tiny umbrella poking out over the rim? You might initially be thinking of drinks such as margaritas, pina coladas or daiquiris. But when you’re on the island of Roatan, a small island off the north coast of the Central American country, Honduras, that fruity tropical drink is known by locals and tourists as the Monkey Lala.
The drink’s name may sound more like a tropical island dance, but if you drink enough of them you may find yourself making a monkey out of yourself. This is not a drink for lightweights! Although the flavors may make it seem like there’s nothing but sweetness involved, there is quite large amount of alcohol on the ingredient list.
There are plenty of variations on this drink to be found throughout the island, but there are some staple ingredients that are pretty much agreed upon by all the local bartenders. A true Roatan Monkey Lala should contain at least the following: ice, Kahlua, Bailey’s, vodka, dark rum, coconut cream, banana, chocolate syrup and pineapple juice. As you can see, although there are a number of different strong alcohols involved, that high alcohol content is easily disguised by a substantial amount of sweetness.
The Monkey Lala drink gets its name from a ubiquitous local lizard scientifically known as the Basilisk, but colloquially known as the Monkey Lala. You can see these lizards running around on their hind legs with their forelegs held aloft. It’s also sometimes called the Jesus Lizard because it can run across small stretches of water before falling in. And if you drink too many of them, you my find yourself believing you can walk across water too!
Of course, if you’re not too enthused by the thought of downing what amounts to be an extra strength dose of diabetes in a glass, there are plenty of other drinks you can get on the island of Roatan as well. If you’re a beer drinker, there are a handful of national beers that are actually brewed on the mainland by Cerveceria Hondurena. The most popular is Salva Vida which you’ll find almost everywhere and advertised far and wide. It’s an American style lager with an alcohol by volume (ABV) level of 4.8%. Cerveza Imperial is another lager but with an ABV of 5%. Port Royal Export is a German style pilsner with an ABV of 4.9%, while Cerveza Barena is a Mexican style lager similar to Corona or Sol and has an ABV of 4.6%.
Rum has always been a popular drink in the Caribbean and Honduras is no exception. Although what’s known as the local rum, Flor de Cana, is actually produced by a Nicaraguan company, a distillery was established in Honduras in the early 1970s.
Chicha is a fermented drink that can be made from many different starting materials. These could include cassava or maize or fruits such as grapes or apples. It’s a drink that’s popular around holidays such as Easter and is shared with visitors to the house. Chicha is rarely bought as it’s typically a homemade drink.
Guaro is a clear alcohol made by distilling sugar cane juice. It typically has an ABV of 40% but is said to taste sweeter than other liquors with a comparable ABV. It can drunk straight up or mixed with soda, juice or other mixers.
This wine is made by fermenting the sap that comes from coyol palm trees. The cloudy, yellow wine is fermented by allowing the coyol sap to sit in the sun. Apparently enzymatic action caused by exposure to the sun after drinking coyol wine can cause more intoxication than what results from the actual ingestion of alcohol.
This is known as medicinal potion that’s created by soaking herbs and spices in rum to create a type of bitter. As a homemade remedy it’s ingredients vary, but common components are cloves, allspice, star anise, chamomile, garlic, ginger and cane sugar. It can be drunk as a shot or mixed with a sweeter liqueur.
If you are unsure what drink to start with, head over to the Beach Grill and ask the bartender to surprise you. They have some secret recipes that our guests are known to love!