Papaya Smash Cocktail Recipe

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Papaya Smash Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Papaya Smash is a relatively modern cocktail that combines the tropical sweetness of papaya with the complex flavors of añejo tequila and Aperol. It's a hit among those who appreciate a fruit-forward drink with a sophisticated edge. The use of agave nectar complements the tequila and adds a smooth sweetness that balances the citrus notes.

  • Originated in the craft cocktail movement
  • Popular among those who enjoy tropical and tequila-based cocktails
  • Often served at upscale bars and summer gatherings

How Papaya Smash Tastes?

The Papaya Smash is a delightful blend of sweet and tangy flavors with a hint of bitterness from the Aperol. The ripe papaya lends a lush, tropical sweetness that is perfectly complemented by the rich, oaky notes of the añejo tequila. The lime and orange juices add a refreshing citrus zing, making it a well-rounded and invigorating cocktail.

Interesting facts about Papaya Smash

  • The Papaya Smash can be considered a tropical twist on the classic Whiskey Smash.
  • Añejo tequila is aged in oak barrels, which gives the cocktail a deeper flavor profile.
  • Aperol, an Italian bitter aperitif, is known for its bright orange color and unique taste, adding an extra layer of complexity to the drink.


  • Papaya slices: 2
  • Agave nectar: 0.75 oz(23ml)
  • Añejo tequila: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Aperol: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice: 0.75 oz(23ml)
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Ice: as needed

Papaya slices

Used for their sweet and tropical taste, papaya slices are muddled to infuse the cocktail with a lush fruitiness. Too much papaya could overpower the other flavors, while not enough means you'll miss out on that signature taste. Replace it with mango for a similarly tropical but differently sweet twist.

Mary Mitkina

Agave Nectar

A natural sweetener that adds a velvety smoothness without the granular texture of sugar. Using more would make the cocktail too sweet, using less, and it might be too tart. Honey could serve as a substitute, providing a different kind of sweetness and a touch of floral flavor.

Alex Green

Añejo Tequila

Aged for depth and character, añejo tequila contributes warm, oak-infused notes and a smooth finish. Going overboard here could lead to a boozy imbalance, whereas not enough wouldn't provide the intended complexity. Swap with blanco tequila for a sharper, more agave-forward profile.

Emma Rose


Adding a hint of bitterness and complexity with its botanicals, the Aperol complements the sweetness from the fruit and agave. More of it would shift the drink towards a bittersweet profile, less, and you'd lose that depth. Try substituting with Campari for a bolder bitter kick.

Mary Mitkina

Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

Bright and tart, lime juice cuts through the sweetness and balances the cocktail. Overdoing it could make the drink too acidic, while too little might leave it feeling flat. Lemon juice could be an alternative, providing a different kind of citrus zing.

Alex Green

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

It adds a mellow, sweet citrus layer that complements the tropical theme. An excess may water down the cocktail and dominate the delicate balance, not enough and the drink loses a layer of complexity. Grapefruit juice could work instead, for a tarter profile.

Emma Rose


It chills and dilutes the cocktail to the perfect sipping consistency. Without enough ice, your drink might be too strong; too much, and it becomes watered down. Crushed ice will chill the drink faster with more dilution, whereas larger cubes maintain the drink's strength longer.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Papaya Smash Drink

  1. Muddle the Fruit: In a mixing glass, muddle 1 slice of fresh papaya with the agave nectar to release the flavors.
  2. Combine Ingredients: Add the añejo tequila, Aperol, and freshly squeezed lime and orange juices to the glass.
  3. Shake: Fill the glass with ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain: Strain the mixture over fresh ice into an old-fashioned glass.
  5. Garnish: Garnish with the remaining slice of papaya.
  6. Serve: Enjoy your refreshing Papaya Smash!

Pro Tips

  • Papaya Ripeness: Use a ripe papaya for the best flavor. It should be soft to the touch and have a sweet aroma.
  • Chill the Glass: Pre-chill your old-fashioned glass to keep the cocktail colder for longer.
  • Balance is Key: Adjust the sweetness with the agave nectar and the tartness with the lime juice to suit your taste.

Perfect Pairings


  • Ceviche: The refreshing citrus flavors in the cocktail complement the acidity and lightness of a good ceviche.
  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers: The smokiness from the grill will be a nice contrast to the sweet and fruity Papaya Smash.

Main Courses

  • Fish Tacos: A light and flavorful dish that pairs wonderfully with the tropical notes of the cocktail.
  • Chicken Satay: The spices in the satay marinade paired with a sweet papaya sauce brings out the fruitiness in the cocktail.


  • Coconut Sorbet: The creamy, light coconut flavors go excellently with the tropical papaya taste.

Other Drinks

  • Chilled Sparkling Water: To cleanse the palate between sips and bites, helping to appreciate all the flavors.

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What you could change in Papaya Smash

  • Tequila: If añejo tequila is not available, reposado tequila can be a suitable substitute, though it will have a slightly less oaky flavor.
  • Aperol: Campari can be used for a more bitter edge, or an orange liqueur for a sweeter profile.
  • Agave Nectar: Simple syrup or honey syrup can be used as a sweetener if agave nectar is not on hand.

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And of course - twists🍹

Mango-Papaya Fusion

Replace one slice of papaya with a slice of mango for a delightful twist. Combine the mango with the agave nectar in the muddling step. Expect a similar tropical sweetness with a tangier edge due to mango's unique flavor profile.

Spicy Papaya Smash

Introduce some heat by adding a small slice of jalapeno. Muddle it with the papaya and agave nectar. This twist will give the cocktail a spicy kick and a surprising warmth, ideal for those who like a little spice in their sip.

Papaya Sunset

A play on colors and taste, add 0.5 oz of grenadine. Pour it over the concocted drink to create a layered sunset effect. It will sweeten the drink and give a berry note, suiting those who prefer their cocktails on the sweeter side.

In case you forgot basics how to make Papaya Smash

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

The key to proper muddling is to crush the ingredients just enough to release their flavors and not overdo it. Over-muddling can result in a bitter taste, especially with herbs.

Learn everything on how to muddle

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Papaya Smash

How do I choose a good ripe papaya for the Papaya Smash?

Look for papayas that have a yellow to orange-red skin, feel slightly soft when pressed gently, and have a sweet aroma near the stem end. Avoid papayas with bruises or overly soft spots.

Can I make a non-alcoholic version of the Papaya Smash?

Absolutely! Substitute the tequila and Aperol with non-alcoholic alternatives such as seedlip or a mixture of fruit juices and sparkling water to mimic the complexity and fizz.

What is the best way to muddle the fruit without a muddler?

You can use the handle of a wooden spoon or the bottom of a sturdy glass to gently press and twist the papaya slices with agave nectar in your mixing glass.

Is there a suitable time of the year to enjoy the Papaya Smash?

While you can enjoy the Papaya Smash year-round, it's particularly refreshing during the summer months or in tropical climates due to its fruity and refreshing profile.

How long should I shake the cocktail ingredients for an optimum mix?

Shake the ingredients vigorously for about 10-15 seconds, or until the outside of the shaker feels cold to ensure the mixture is well-chilled and properly diluted.

Can I prepare a large batch of Papaya Smash for a party?

You sure can. Multiply the ingredient proportions by the number of servings you need and mix in a large pitcher or bowl. Serve over ice with individual garnishes.

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