A hot, thirsty summer calls for the Turtle Krawl

  • The Turtle Krawl

    The Turtle Krawl Courtesy of Penny Kazmier

Posted6/19/2019 6:00 AM

Hopefully our snowy spring is behind us and an actual summer is right around the corner. To me, nothing is better on a warm, sunny day than relaxing on my porch with a cool tropical drink. Of course, I already have a batch of my favorite frozen cosmos -- see my June 28, 2017, column for this recipe -- in my freezer, but for those times when I want to be transported to a tropical place, my drink of choice is definitely a Turtle Krawl.

The Turtle Krawl is the signature drink at the Gurgling Suitcase bar at Disney's Old Key West resort located at Walt Disney World in Florida. When the bar first opened over 20 years ago, drinks were served in tall glasses complete with orange slice and maraschino cherry garnish, along with glass drink stirrers topped with tropical creatures, like flamingoes, dolphins or pineapples. I'm embarrassed to say, my husband and I have quite a collection of these stirrers.


This drink has become very nostalgic for us as we have introduced it to many friends and family members. While we have seen the container and stirrer change from glass to plastic cup, we still love the drink and order it every time we visit the Gurgling Suitcase.

I thought I had struck gold when the bartender shared the recipe with me a few years ago, only to discover Disney is generous with their recipes, as it is also posted online.

The Turtle Krawl is a blend of three rums, orange and pineapple juices and a splash of both key lime juice and grenadine. I was told by a bartender at the Gurgling Suitcase the recipe has evolved over time, but this is the current tasty version. Of course, they use name brand craft made rum from Key West, but it is just as tasty with the rum you can find in the Midwest, so use your favorite brand.

The mixture is exactly what you would expect to find while sitting at the far end of Key West Florida or on a tropical island in the middle of the Caribbean. It is definitely on the sweet side, but not as strong as a Mai Tai or Pia Colada. If you ask me, it is the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing.

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I learned a lot about rum while trying to recreate this drink and why it is important to use all three different kinds of rum if at all possible, as each serves a different purpose in flavoring this cocktail.

To complete this rum extravaganza, a splash of both grenadine and lime juice are added, along with equal parts orange and pineapple juice.

No tropical drink is complete without a garnish and one of the reasons for adding a garnish is to give people a hint of what is to come when they take their first sip. I also like that it gives me a little something to snack on. This ensures I don't drink my Turtle Krawl too quickly, and as a bonus, it looks pretty. Of course, if you are partial to little umbrellas, you can add that too, but I like to "skewer" a half an orange slice along with a lime wedge and, of course, a maraschino cherry.

One last tip: you can easily multiply this recipe by 10 or more to make a pitcher for your next party. Just be sure not to add ice until pouring it into a glass to avoid diluting the drink. Arrange garnish components on a decorative plate with skewers on the side, or make the garnish skewers ahead of time and place them upright in a pretty vase next to the pitcher and glasses.

One caution: the Turtle Krawl goes down easy, but it is a strong drink, so be careful when drinking as you want to be sure you are able to walk home instead of crawling. Enjoy!

• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge.

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