Tropical Itch Cocktail Recipe

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Tropical Itch 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 7, 2024


The Tropical Itch cocktail is a classic tiki drink created in the 1950s by Harry Yee, a bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Hawaii. This exotic cocktail quickly gained popularity among tourists and locals alike, becoming a staple in tiki bars around the world.

  • The name 'Tropical Itch' is said to have been inspired by the itch for a tropical vacation that many people experience.
  • The cocktail is often served with a backscratcher as a garnish, adding to its playful and quirky nature.
  • Tiki culture, which emerged in the mid-20th century, is known for its elaborate cocktails, tropical themes, and Polynesian-inspired decor.

How Tropical Itch Tastes?

The Tropical Itch is a refreshing, fruity, and slightly tangy cocktail with a hint of sweetness. The combination of rum, bourbon, and tropical fruit juices creates a well-balanced, complex flavor profile that is both rich and invigorating.

Interesting facts about Tropical Itch

  • The original recipe for the Tropical Itch called for a blend of light and dark rums, but it has since evolved to include bourbon as well.
  • The cocktail is typically served in a tall hurricane glass, showcasing its vibrant colors and garnishes.
  • The Tropical Itch is often associated with Hawaiian luaus and tiki parties, making it a popular choice for festive occasions.


Light Rum

Light rum gives a clean, slightly sweet base to our cocktail—it's the sandy beach under the tropical sun. Going overboard with more than 1 oz could leave you feeling like you've been left adrift at sea.

Alex Green

Dark Rum

Dark rum is like the shadow of the palm tree on that same beach, providing rich, caramel notes. Too much might send you looking for shade earlier than expected!

Emma Rose


Bourbon brings a touch of southern mystery with its vanilla and oak hints. At 0.5 oz, it whispers sweet nothings without overpowering the tropical choir.

Mary Mitkina

Passion Fruit Juice

The tart, exotic heart of this drink. Its tangy personality complements the sweetness and adds depth. If excluded, you'd lose the passion in the Tropical Itch!

Alex Green

Orange Juice

Orange juice brings a familiar sunny disposition to the mix. Go without, and there's a risk the other flavors might get lost in an unfamiliar island forest.

Emma Rose

Pineapple Juice

This juice brings the tropical aroma you want to inhale as you sip your drink. Skipping it is like a tropical vacation without the beach!

Mary Mitkina


A dash of this sweet red elixir gives a sunset hue to your drink. It’s like the final brushstroke on a masterpiece—the small touch that makes a world of difference.

Alex Green

Crushed Ice

Sufficient to turn the liquid mix into a refreshing escape but not so much that it waters down your dreams of paradise.

Emma Rose


Final touches are essential—our pineapple wants to say 'hello' and the cherry is the sweet kiss goodbye. And don't forget the backscratcher because every itch needs a good scratch!

Alternatives: Swapping out juices with similar tropical ones can be fun—think guava or lychee. Just keep the spirit (pun intended)!

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Tropical Itch Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice.
  2. Add the light rum, dark rum, bourbon, passion fruit juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine to the shaker.
  3. Shake well to combine and chill the ingredients.
  4. Strain the mixture into a tall hurricane glass filled with fresh crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with a pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, and a backscratcher.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh juices whenever possible for the best flavor.
  • Shake the cocktail shaker vigorously to ensure all ingredients are well mixed.
  • Chill your glass before serving to keep your cocktail cooler for longer.

Perfect Pairings

Appetizers & Snacks

  • Grilled Shrimp Skewers: The light and zesty flavour of shrimp enhanced with a hint of smoke pairs beautifully with the tropical notes in the cocktail.
  • Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders: The sweetness of the coconut crust will complement the cocktail's fruity sweetness.

Main Courses

  • Teriyaki Salmon: The sweet and tangy teriyaki glaze will resonate with the tropical and citrus notes of the cocktail.
  • Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza: The mixture of savory, sweet, and tangy flavors in the pizza works well with the complex yet refreshing taste of the Tropical Itch.


  • Mango Sorbet: A light and refreshing sorbet will cleanse the palate without overpowering the cocktail's flavors.
  • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake: The caramelized pineapple and rum notes in the cake echo the tropical essence of the cocktail.

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What you could change in Tropical Itch

  • Light Rum: Can be replaced with white rum.
  • Dark Rum: Can be substituted with spiced rum for a different flavor profile.
  • Bourbon: If not available, whiskey can be used.
  • Passion Fruit Juice: Mango juice can be used as a substitute.

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And of course - twists🍹

Tropical Storm

  • Substitute bourbon with coconut rum: This will infuse an extra layer of tropical flavor into the drink, making it even more beachy.
  • Add a splash of blue curaçao: Not just for color but also for a slightly bitter orange twist.
  • Recipe: Follow the original, replacing bourbon with coconut rum, and adding a splash of blue curaçao after shaking. The color will resemble a stormy sea, and the flavors will take you on an intense island adventure.

Island Whisper

  • Switch out light and dark rum for spiced rum: This will add a complexity with hints of spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Replace bourbon with peach schnapps: The peach will add a subtle, sweet fruitiness and reduce the alcohol's punch.
  • Recipe: Use spiced rum instead of light and dark, and peach schnapps instead of bourbon. It will transform your cocktail into a more mellow and aromatic experience, like a gentle breeze on a secluded beach.

Sunset Bliss

  • Include a float of cherry liqueur on top: This not only adds a beautiful layer but also introduces a deep cherry flavor.
  • Recipe: Prepare as usual, then carefully pour cherry liqueur over the back of a spoon to create a layer on top. This cocktail will now have a sweet cherry note and a gradient color, resembling a sunset over the ocean.

In case you forgot basics how to make Tropical Itch

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 Tropical Itch

Is the Tropical Itch a strong cocktail?

The Tropical Itch is considered to be a medium strength cocktail due to the mix of alcohols including light rum, dark rum and bourbon.

Why is it called a 'Tropical Itch'?

The name 'Tropical Itch' is thought to be inspired by the cravings many people have for a tropical vacation. The drink’s fruity flavors and fun presentation help transport its drinkers to a tropical paradise.

How did the cocktail culture emerge in Hawaii?

Cocktail culture in Hawaii emerged out of the mid-20th century tiki culture, which was inspired by Polynesian traditions and aesthetics. Many bartenders, like Harry Yee, became famous for creating elaborate fruity cocktails like the Tropical Itch.

What kind of food pairs well with the Tropical Itch?

The Tropical Itch pairs well with Island cuisine such as grilled fish, chicken, or pork dishes. The sweetness of the cocktail complements the spicy and savory flavors of these foods.

What are other popular tiki cocktails?

Other popular tiki cocktails include the Mai Tai, Blue Hawaii, and Zombie cocktail, all of which also feature colourful presentations and exotic fruit flavors.

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