Polynesian Pearl Diver Cocktail Recipe

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Polynesian Pearl Diver 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 Polynesian Pearl Diver is a tropical cocktail that hails from the golden era of Tiki culture. It's a drink that evokes the spirit of island adventure and was popularized in the mid-20th century, when exotic escapism was all the rage in the United States. Fans of Tiki bars and Polynesian pop will certainly appreciate the depth and complexity of this cocktail.

  • Origins: The cocktail is believed to have originated from Don the Beachcomber's bar, a cornerstone in the Tiki movement.
  • Popularity: It gained popularity as part of the Tiki culture craze that swept across America post-World War II.
  • Audience: Ideal for those who enjoy a sweet and spicy flavor profile with a strong kick of rum.

How Polynesian Pearl Diver Tastes?

The Polynesian Pearl Diver is a symphony of flavors. It's sweet from the honey syrup, yet balanced with the tartness of lime and orange juices. The dark rum adds a rich, molasses-like undertone, while the light rum keeps it bright and punchy. The falernum brings in a spicy zing, and the Angostura bitters round it out with a subtle herbal complexity. It's a strong cocktail that's both invigorating and soothing.

Interesting facts about Polynesian Pearl Diver

  • The name 'Pearl Diver' is a nod to the South Sea pearl divers and the exotic allure of the Tiki culture.
  • Don the Beachcomber, the creator of the original Pearl Diver cocktail, is often credited with the invention of the Tiki bar in the 1930s.
  • The Pearl Diver glass, specifically designed for this drink, has a unique shape that enhances the experience of the tropical flavors.


  • Light rum: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Dark rum: 1 oz(30ml)
  • Orange juice: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Lime juice: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Honey syrup: 0.5 oz(15ml)
  • Falernum: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Angostura bitters: 1 dash
  • Mint sprig: 1
  • Garnish: Tropical Fruit Wedge

Light Rum

The 1.5 oz of Light Rum is the backbone of this tropical cocktail. It gives it a smooth, clean taste. Using less would make the drink less potent and more diluted, while more could overshadow the other flavors. You can try substituting it with cane spirit or cachaça for a Brazilian twist!

Mary Mitkina

Dark Rum

With 1 oz, Dark Rum brings depth and complexity. It adds a caramel-like sweetness that contrasts the citrus. Skip it, and you miss out on the 'oomph'. A good alternative is bourbon if you fancy a Southern flair.

Alex Green

Orange Juice

Just 0.5 oz adds a slice of sunny brightness. Too much and your cocktail becomes a brunch juice; too little and the balance tips. Feel adventurous? Swap it with blood orange juice for a 'sunset' vibe.

Emma Rose

Lime Juice

Another 0.5 oz, the Lime Juice is key for tartness, keeping the drink from being too sweet. Mess this up, and you'll pucker up or miss the zing. Yuzu juice can substitute for an exotic touch.

Mary Mitkina

Honey Syrup

Sweet and smooth, 0.5 oz of Honey Syrup marries the rums and fruit together without overpowering. More can make it sticky-sweet, less unnoticed. Maple syrup could be your wild card here.

Alex Green


The 0.25 oz of Falernum is the spice rack of the tropics in a bottle. It brings a ginger and clove note. Without it, the drink loses complexity. Ginger syrup can step in but won't have the same kick.

Emma Rose

Angostura Bitters

Just a dash, but Angostura Bitters give the cocktail aromatic layers. Miss it, and the flavor is like a band without a drummer. No real sub here, it’s that unique.

Mary Mitkina

Mint Sprig

A Mint Sprig is your scent garnish that tickles the nose and invites a sip. It's not just for the look, trust me. Forget it, and it's like a party with no music. No mint? A basil sprig can be a fun play.

Alex Green

Tropical Fruit Wedge

Choose your favorite tropical fruit as a Garnish. It's eye-candy plus a fruity snack. It's the curtain call of your cocktail performance. Without it, the show goes on, but it's not as sweet.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Polynesian Pearl Diver Drink

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well to chill the mixture.
  3. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with crushed ice.
  4. Optionally, use a Pearl Diver glass or a tiki mug for an authentic presentation.
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig or a tropical fruit wedge.

Pro Tips

  • For an extra touch of authenticity, chill the glass before pouring the cocktail into it.
  • If you like your drinks a bit sweeter, adjust the honey syrup to taste.
  • Slap the mint sprig between your hands before garnishing to release its aromatic oils.

Perfect Pairings


  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers: The light and citrusy flavors of the drink complement the smoky and slightly salty taste of grilled shrimp.
  • Coconut-based dishes: Offers a creamy texture that goes well with the tropical notes of the cocktail.

Main Courses

  • Hawaiian Pizza: The sweet and savory combo balances the acidity and sweetness of the Polynesian Pearl Diver.
  • Caribbean Jerk Chicken: The spices in the chicken are a perfect match for the complexity of the cocktail.


  • Mango Sorbet: Enhances the fruity flavors in the drink.
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cake: A lovely companion to the tropical theme of your cocktail.

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What you could change in Polynesian Pearl Diver

  • Light Rum: Can be substituted with any other light rum of your preference.
  • Dark Rum: A dark rum with a strong molasses flavor is preferred, but any dark rum will do.
  • Falernum: If unavailable, you can use a homemade mix of almond syrup, cloves, ginger, and lime zest.

Explore all drinks starting with P here

And of course - twists🍹

Coconut Cream Dream

  • Substitute 0.5 oz of Light Rum with Coconut Rum
  • Add 0.5 oz of Cream of Coconut Take the tropical feel to creamy paradise. The coconut adds a velvety texture, enhancing the flavor profile to an exotic creamy dream. This twist adds a rich layer and is a dessert cocktail in its own right.

Spiced Vanilla Voyage

  • Add a Vanilla Bean Pod to the shaker
  • Substitute Honey Syrup with Spiced Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cinnamon Stick Invoking the warm tiki spirit even further, the vanilla and spices add a cozy complexity to your cocktail that's perfect for cooler nights. It provides a lingering warmth and depth that will have you dreaming of island bonfires.

Fiery Ginger Fizz

  • Substitute 0.5 oz Lime Juice with Ginger Beer
  • Add a slice of Jalapeño to the shaker For those who love a little kick, this version zips and zings with spicy ginger and a touch of heat. The effervescence from the ginger beer gives it a refreshing sparkle. This take is brightly invigorating and tantalizes with a spicy tingle.

In case you forgot basics how to make Polynesian 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 Polynesian Pearl Diver

What type of glass is traditionally used for the Polynesian Pearl Diver?

A Pearl Diver glass, also known as a tiki glass, is traditionally used for serving this cocktail to enhance the tropical aesthetic, though any large glass such as a Collins or a hurricane glass can be used.

Can I make this cocktail in a blender instead of shaking?

Absolutely! Blending the Polynesian Pearl Diver with ice can create a slushie-like texture that's perfect for hot weather. Just blend until smooth and serve immediately.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of the Polynesian Pearl Diver?

Yes, you can create a mocktail version by omitting the rums and falernum and substituting them with non-alcoholic spirits, or simply increasing the juices and adjusting the sweetness with more honey syrup or a bit of simple syrup.

How can I make honey syrup for this cocktail?

Honey syrup is made by mixing equal parts of honey and warm water. Stir until the honey dissolves completely, let it cool, and then use it in your cocktail.

What can I use as a substitute if I don't have Angostura bitters?

If you don't have Angostura bitters, you can substitute with other aromatic bitters as each brand has its own unique flavor profile. Alternatively, you can leave it out; the cocktail will still be delicious but slightly different in taste.

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