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Coco Maya’s Coco Bongo Highball: Going coastal Yucatan all the way through Puerto Rico

The perfect “first drink of the night” — or day

Coco Bongo Highball
Coco Bongo Highball
Rob McShea

The last time I met with Rob McShea, he was showing me how to smoke a cocktail using a cloche at Louisiana Purchase. Now I’m visiting him at the newly opened Coco Maya in Little Italy for a more tropically minded lesson. “The concept here is Latin-Caribbean,” he says. “And we’re going to go coastal Yucatan all the way through Puerto Rico, and some of the Latin-Caribbean islands,” he adds, speaking over the buzz of the crowded bar. “That’s the chef’s menu, and I formulated a [cocktail] menu along with that.”

The menu “is broken into three sections; the Direct menu is going to be all of our spirit-forward drinks; the Cane cocktails are your tropical, fun stuff… and then we go into the Agave section.” Once there, McShea points his finger at the Coco Bongo Highball, which he considers the perfect “first drink of the night” — or day — cocktail. “It’s coconut-infused tequila, a little bit of Jamaican rum, and CBD-infused Recess on top,” he explains.

Place

Coco Maya

1660 India Street, San Diego

Keeping with the Latin-Caribbean theme, it’s named after a club in Cancun. “I just wanted to have lots of coconut,” he says. “Coconut usually goes sweet, so I used a spirit called Doctor Bird. It’s a Jamaican rum, it’s very funky so it balances everything out, so it’s not this ‘suntan lotion’ kind of drink.” This particular rum is easy to remember because it shares its name with the national bird of Jamaica. “If you drink it by itself, you’ll get this really wicked, weird, funky taste to it. It’s definitely different, because most people think rum, and they’re like, ‘Oh, college, Captain Morgan,’ you know? But it’s really nice, and it really lends itself to cocktails like this, where, without it, it’d be really sweet.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

To give the highball a bit of fizz, he opts for something a little more special than soda water. “This company called Recess, they make canned CBD cocktails. A word they use is ‘adaptogens,’ which makes you relax… but it’s not THC, so it doesn’t get you high. But it will make you feel nice,” he explains. “You won’t, like, go out and eat a pizza or anything after… but I wouldn’t judge you if you did.”

Humor aside, he continues, “I just wanted to add a new dimension to the cocktail, and CBD is kind of a fun thing to add to it. There’s also a very subtle coconut flavor to their product, so it’s not in your face.” McShea hopes to dissociate from the public’s old days of drinking Malibu rum. “This is a more adult way to enjoy a nice, coconut-y, fantastic drink.”

Coco Maya
  • Coco Maya’s
  • Coco Bongo Highball
  • 1 oz coconut infused tequila
  • 1 oz Jamaican Rum
  • .75 oz coconut syrup
  • .75 oz fresh lime juice
  • Recess Coconut CBD
  • Add all ingredients (except Recess) to mixing tin with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top with Recess. Garnish with dehydrated lime wheel and banana leaf.
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Coco Bongo Highball
Coco Bongo Highball
Rob McShea

The last time I met with Rob McShea, he was showing me how to smoke a cocktail using a cloche at Louisiana Purchase. Now I’m visiting him at the newly opened Coco Maya in Little Italy for a more tropically minded lesson. “The concept here is Latin-Caribbean,” he says. “And we’re going to go coastal Yucatan all the way through Puerto Rico, and some of the Latin-Caribbean islands,” he adds, speaking over the buzz of the crowded bar. “That’s the chef’s menu, and I formulated a [cocktail] menu along with that.”

The menu “is broken into three sections; the Direct menu is going to be all of our spirit-forward drinks; the Cane cocktails are your tropical, fun stuff… and then we go into the Agave section.” Once there, McShea points his finger at the Coco Bongo Highball, which he considers the perfect “first drink of the night” — or day — cocktail. “It’s coconut-infused tequila, a little bit of Jamaican rum, and CBD-infused Recess on top,” he explains.

Place

Coco Maya

1660 India Street, San Diego

Keeping with the Latin-Caribbean theme, it’s named after a club in Cancun. “I just wanted to have lots of coconut,” he says. “Coconut usually goes sweet, so I used a spirit called Doctor Bird. It’s a Jamaican rum, it’s very funky so it balances everything out, so it’s not this ‘suntan lotion’ kind of drink.” This particular rum is easy to remember because it shares its name with the national bird of Jamaica. “If you drink it by itself, you’ll get this really wicked, weird, funky taste to it. It’s definitely different, because most people think rum, and they’re like, ‘Oh, college, Captain Morgan,’ you know? But it’s really nice, and it really lends itself to cocktails like this, where, without it, it’d be really sweet.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

To give the highball a bit of fizz, he opts for something a little more special than soda water. “This company called Recess, they make canned CBD cocktails. A word they use is ‘adaptogens,’ which makes you relax… but it’s not THC, so it doesn’t get you high. But it will make you feel nice,” he explains. “You won’t, like, go out and eat a pizza or anything after… but I wouldn’t judge you if you did.”

Humor aside, he continues, “I just wanted to add a new dimension to the cocktail, and CBD is kind of a fun thing to add to it. There’s also a very subtle coconut flavor to their product, so it’s not in your face.” McShea hopes to dissociate from the public’s old days of drinking Malibu rum. “This is a more adult way to enjoy a nice, coconut-y, fantastic drink.”

Coco Maya
  • Coco Maya’s
  • Coco Bongo Highball
  • 1 oz coconut infused tequila
  • 1 oz Jamaican Rum
  • .75 oz coconut syrup
  • .75 oz fresh lime juice
  • Recess Coconut CBD
  • Add all ingredients (except Recess) to mixing tin with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass. Top with Recess. Garnish with dehydrated lime wheel and banana leaf.
Sponsored
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