Pour Decisions: Barbados’ Cocktail Renaissance Unveiled by Shane McClean

When it comes to drinks the wider public has become a little bit more discerning, and what they are looking for is things off the beaten path. That burgeoning sophistication has
fuelled an explosion in cocktail culture and craft beer as well as resurgence in the appeal
of classic drinks. In Barbados this sophistication and interest is no different and it’s coming at a time when Barbadian food culture is reaching new audiences.
Barbados’ mixologists are making drinks all over the Americas in food festivals and
culinary competitions including most recently the Atlanta Food and Winer Festival and the Mexico City Food & Wine Festival Living Barbados sat down with Shane McClean, an award-winning international mixologist and Culinary Ambassador for Barbados. He gave context to the innovation in Barbados cocktail scene and then his three rules for making a good cocktail.
Shane, sees the resurgence of interest in cocktails as driven by a shift towards a more
discerning and adventurous consumer base. "People are more into the foodie culture, and they have experienced more variety in drinks.” He also sees that Barbadian chefs and mixologists are becoming rebels of sorts, stepping outside their comfort zones to offer patrons something distinctive. One notable trend Shane highlighted is the fusion of kitchen and bar, breaking down the traditional barriers between food and drink menus. “We pair flavours of the cocktails with what's actually on the menu,” he explained, emphasizing the importance of creating a cohesive culinary experience.
As for the current cocktail trends in Barbados, Shane pointed out the rising popularity of
savoury drinks over sweet as well as more citrus-forward, and balanced cocktails. He
noted the rise of low-sugar cocktails as an intriguing trend, aligning with the growing
health-consciousness of patrons.
Shane gave us the three things that make up a good cocktail: Flavour, balance and the
presence of alcohol.
Flavour: “Whatever the flavour notes are in the drink you should be able to identify it in the cocktail,” says Shane.
Balance: When you achieve it allows the flavour to shine and the spirit to shine,” The
emphasis on balance, he explained, ensures that every flavour component is discernible,
creating a harmonious drinking experience.
Presence of alcohol: Taste the alcohol but not go over the line, you want the tingle that
alcohol gives but you don’t want it to make people drunk fast or for it to overpower. Shane
clarified that a spirit-forward cocktail places the focus on the alcohol, with its punch felt at the beginning, followed by the introduction of other flavours, and the alcohol lingering at the end. Using Shane’s criteria we look at three bars in Barbados each presenting one of their signature drinks to see how it meets the criteria.

“Oceans Three” at Calma Beach Bar
Created by Bartender Ryan Alleyne
The ‘Oceans Three” cocktail at Calma Beach Resort is one of the exciting new additions to
their 2023 drinks menu. The drink looks like an aquarium and tastes delicious. Based on Shane’s criteria it is a balanced cocktail where both the mint and pineapple is equally
weighted to the vodka. The pineapple is just sweet enough and makes this drink

Blue curaçao
Triple sec
Pineapple juice
Lime juice
Simple syrup
Blueberry and mint garnish

“Mango Chow” at Cocktail Kitchen
Recreated for LB by Bartender Robert Marshall
This cocktail is sweet at first but the flavour is definitely there and it is well
balanced. You get the cilantro and mango at first before the taste of the white rum
and the scotch bonnet-infused rum rises on the palate with a little peppery kick.


Scotch bonnet infused rum
White rum
Mango puree
Lime and sugar syrup

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