It almost sounds like a fairytale — a verdant and picturesque rainforest where fresh canopy water is turned into remarkable rum. However, in southern Belize, that’s simply the process at Copalli Rum. With social and environmental sustainability very much guiding the way, the Central American rum specialists craft a trio of options each made with organic sugar cane.

There’s plenty to raise a glass to, as together with its sister operation, the Copal Tree Lodge, the distillery is the largest non-government employer in the region, turning out award-winning rum while working toward an impressive goal of zero waste. And, while our cocktail glass is clanking around mid-toast, let’s celebrate the upcoming holiday stretch, too. As accurate cliches would have it, this is the most wonderful time of the year, made all the more so when you celebrate as they do in Belize.

The gorgeous tropical nation wedged between Mexico and Guatemala touts not only impossibly blue shorelines and gently swaying palm trees, but also a dense rainforest, the protection of which drives Copalli Rum. It’s not the storybook Christmas locale we’ve all come to know, which is precisely why it’s all the more enchanting. Who doesn’t want to be in a place where Christmas and Kwanzaa are celebrated pretty much all of December? Where there’s the soul-warming bram, and locals take to the streets, caroling according to the bouncy home-grown music genre otherwise known as Brukdown. After one note—and one sip of the home-grown rum while we’re feeling the festive beats — dancing and rejoicing goes from feeling optional to simply natural.

We know, we can’t all make it to The Jewel, Belize’s more-than-apt nickname. Many of us will be stuck in the snow, sleet, rain, and salivating over being even just a couple of hours closer to the Equator. Fortunately, we can partake in some Copalli cocktails inspired by Belize’s foremost rum in an effort to reach the Caribbean coast, even if only mentally.

Belizean Rum Popo


Rum Popo is a delicious traditional rum crème made in Belize that is similar to eggnog. This festive blend is served during the holiday season as a celebratory drink shared with family and friends. Sure to warm up the heart, a glass of Rum Popo is a decadent treat that joyfully reflects the spirit of the season. Because it’s meant to be shared with friends, this Rum Popp recipe is made in a punchbowl and serves a group!

Ingredients (Serves 16)

  • 4 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cans evaporated milk
  • 12 eggs
  • 16 ounces Copalli Cacao Rum
  • Nutmeg for garnish

Directions 

  1. Blend eggs in mixing bowl for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add evaporated milk.
  3. Blend for approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Add in condensed milk and Copalli rum.
  5. Blend Rum Popo mixture for approximately 2 minutes or until all parts are evenly dispersed.
  6. Chill until ready to serve.
  7. Stir before serving and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Copalli Cacao Espresso Martini


We like our Martinis with a kick, especially during the marathon stretch otherwise known as the holiday season. This lovely version gives the classic Espresso Martini the Belizean treatment, outfitting it with the alluring Belizean chocolate notes of the rum and even dusting it with fresh cacao. Serve it up if you’re feeling classy but we won’t tell a soul if you just want to enjoy this one in your favorite holiday mug.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces Copalli Cacao
  • ½ ounce St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur
  • 1 ounce espresso
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Organic cacao powder

Directions

  1. Add ice and shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  2. Top with a sprinkle of cacao powder.

Copalli Club


Redolent with red fruit and the fresh aromatics that come with a good vermouth, this cocktail is worthy of club status. It really brings out the brambly notes and creamy finish inherent to the rum, while the egg white and citrus stitch the whole thing together, seamlessly. The holidays ought to be bright, after all.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces Copalli Cacao
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth (Dolin is suggested)
  • ½ ounce raspberry jam
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ egg white
  • Fresh raspberries

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients into shaker.
  2. Shake without ice first, then add ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with 2 raspberries on a pick.

The Jaguar


Inspired by a spritz but through-and-through tropical, the Jaguar is dressed up in all the best things. There’s the festive red hue of the bittersweet Venetian liqueur, partnered with dry vermouth and a kiss of sunny passion fruit. There’s no need for a garnish here; the drink itself is more than enough for the senses to enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Copalli Cacao
  • 1 ounce Select Aperitivo
  • 1 ounce Dolin Blanc
  • ¼ ounce Giffard Passion Fruit Liqueur

Directions

  1. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass (no garnish).

Copalli Rum Toddy


The Hot Toddy is an international sensation, always invited to winter celebrations. Better, it adapts to its surroundings, taking on regional flair and flavors. This riff blends a couple of standout Caribbean rums, along with baking spices and a flicker of cinnamon. Do the nightcap, Belizean style.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces Copalli Barrel Rested Rum
  • ½ ounce Jamaican rum
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon syrup
  • 3 ounces boiling water
  • Lemon peel
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon stick

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients into a warmed mug.
  2. Stir, then garnish with a lemon peel studded with cloves and your choice of a cinnamon stick or grated nutmeg.

This article is sponsored by Copalli Rum