Pearl Diver Cocktail Recipe

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Pearl Diver Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:20%

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 7, 2024


The Pearl Diver is a classic tiki cocktail that was first created by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s. This cocktail is a perfect blend of tropical flavors and rums, making it a favorite among those who love tiki drinks. The Pearl Diver is known for its unique ingredient, Don's Gardenia Mix, which adds a creamy, spiced flavor to the cocktail.

How Pearl Diver Tastes?

The Pearl Diver is a flavorful cocktail with a complex profile. It's sweet, creamy, and slightly spicy with a hint of citrus. The aged rum adds a rich, deep flavor, while the demerara rum gives it a sweet, caramel undertone. The lime and orange juices add a refreshing citrusy tang, and the Angostura bitters balance out the sweetness.

Interesting facts about Pearl Diver

  • The Pearl Diver is a classic tiki cocktail that was first created by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s.
  • The cocktail's unique ingredient, Don's Gardenia Mix, is a blend of honey, butter, and spices.
  • The cocktail is traditionally garnished with an edible orchid and a pineapple leaf.


  • Aged column still rum: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Demerara rum: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Don’s gardenia mix: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Lime juice: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Orange juice: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Angostura bitters: 1 dash
  • Garnish: edible orchid
  • Garnish: pineapple leaf

Aged column-still rum

Aged column-still rum is the backbone of this cocktail, offering a smooth complexity with each sip. At 1.5 oz, it's just the right amount to not overpower the drink. Less, and it might fade into the background; more, and your tongue might go on a tipsy tango. Lose it, and you'll miss the mature charm it brings. Swap for an aged pot-still rum for a funkier profile if you're feeling saucy.

Emma Rose

Demerara rum

The 0.5 oz of Demerara rum introduces a rich sweetness and depth. It whispers of tropical nights and promises not to shout over its column-still cousin. Go more, and it might bog down the drink; less, and its voice might get lost in the mix. Drop it altogether and wave goodbye to that caramel smoothness. Think about using a dark Jamaican rum for a more intense molasses vibe—just a suggestion if you're into the strong, silent type.

Mary Mitkina

Don’s Gardenia Mix

This mysterious mix is the cocktail's X factor—at 0.5 oz, it's the secret handshake between flavors. Too much and the balance is tipped, too little and the magic dims. Without it, you might as well be drinking a different drink. Substitute with honey-cream-cinnamon-nutmeg mix if you're stranded on a desert island without a Trader Vic's in sight.

Alex Green

Lime juice

Lime juice brings a tartness at 0.5 oz, cutting through the sweetness like a bright sword. More might turn your sips into a lip-puckering quest; less and the drink becomes cloying. No lime juice? You might as well be sipping on sugar water. In a pinch, lemon juice could pinch-hit, but expect a slightly different game.

Emma Rose

Orange juice

At 0.5 oz, orange juice offers a citrusy hug to the tartness of lime, balancing the act. Overdo it and your Pearl Diver could become a morning OJ; skimp and the drink loses its round edges. Without it, you're stranded at sea. Mandarin juice could fill in for a twist, making your cocktail a tad more exotic.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura bitters

One dash of Angostura bitters is like adding a dash of spice to life. It's subtle but essential, like an aromatic whisper in a raucous room. Forget it, and the cocktail loses a layer of depth. There are other bitters in the sea, but Angostura is the classic matchmaker here.

Alex Green


An edible orchid and pineapple leaf are not just frippery—they're the final flourish that tell your eyes to get ready for a tropical adventure. No garnish? The drink will still taste like a holiday, but look like it forgot to dress up. In its stead, a sprig of mint or a wheel of lime can also whisper 'tropics.'

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Pearl Diver Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add the aged column-still rum, demerara rum, Don’s Gardenia Mix, lime juice, orange juice, and Angostura bitters.
  3. Shake well until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a glass filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with an edible orchid and a pineapple leaf.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh lime and orange juices for the best flavor.
  • Shake the cocktail well to ensure that all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Garnish the cocktail with an edible orchid and a pineapple leaf for a tropical touch.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Grilled seafood: The fresh citrus notes in the Pearl Diver complement the delicate flavors of grilled shrimp or scallops.
  • Ceviche: The acidity from the lime juice aligns with the tanginess of a flavorful ceviche.
  • Tropical fruit salad: A sweet and tangy complement to the fruity dimension of the cocktail.
  • Spicy Jamaican jerk chicken: The sweetness of the rum can help balance the spiciness of the dish.

Drink Pairings

  • Coconut water: For a non-alcoholic and refreshing option that echoes the tropical vibe.
  • Dark roasted coffee: Enjoy a contrast between the sweet and fruity cocktail with the bitterness of the coffee.

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What you could change in Pearl Diver

If you can't find aged column-still rum, you can substitute it with any other aged rum. If you can't find Don’s Gardenia Mix, you can make your own by blending honey, butter, and spices.

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And of course - twists🍹

Mezcal Diver

  • Substitute the aged column-still rum with mezcal for a smoky twist.
  • Keep the rest of the ingredients the same.
  • Expect a smokier, earthier drink that asserts itself with each sip. Perfect for those who prefer a cocktail with a bit of a bite and smoky whisper - like the mysterious stranger at a beach bonfire.

Spiced Diver

  • Add a pinch of ground cinnamon or a small piece of a cinnamon stick to the shaker.
  • This will add a warm, spicy dimension to the cocktail.
  • The resulting drink should be both familiar and surprising, a sip of the tropics on a cool evening.

Hibiscus Diver

  • Replace the Angostura bitters with hibiscus bitters for a floral twist.
  • Add a splash of hibiscus syrup if you want an extra hint of sweetness and color.
  • The cocktail will have a new layer of floral notes and a stunning deep pink hue, like a sunset in a glass.

In case you forgot basics how to make Pearl Diver

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

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 Pearl Diver

What other garnishes can be used besides an orange slice and a maraschino cherry?

You can garnish with a pineapple slice or a lime wheel. A sprig of fresh mint is also a popular choice for added visual and aromatic appeal.

How can I adjust the strength of the Pearl Diver cocktail?

The strength of any cocktail can be adjusted by varying the amount of alcohol used. For a stronger Pearl Diver, you can increase the amount of rum. Conversely, for a less potent drink, you can decrease the rum.

What kind of rum can I use if I don't have gold rum or Demerara rum?

While gold rum and Demerara rum are suggested for the authentic taste of the Pearl Diver cocktail, you can use any dark rum you have on hand.

What non-alcoholic alternatives can I use for rum in the Pearl Diver cocktail?

Non-alcoholic substitutions for rum can include rum extract or a blend of apple juice and pineapple juice.

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