January 13, 2009 | Comments 0

Don’t Forget The Rum

island-drinks-150x1501No matter where you travel in the Caribbean you will quickly realize each island seems to have a unique drink it has created and adopted as it’s own. If you are a first-time cruise vacationer you quickly learn that on each tour you take you will be handed some type of complimentary drink. Usually in the Caribbean they all have rum as the main ingredient. You will never know how much you can do with rum until you visit the islands.

We were recently on the island of Nevis visiting the Nesbit Plantation. The rum drinks flowed freely. Having visited many other islands I expected the typical twist on the traditional fruity rum drink to be available. I am not sure if what they served us was their own concoction or not but I didn’t like it. It seemingly tasted of pepper. I guess they call it “spiced rum”. Truthfully, it was the first rum drink I ever poured out. I guess it takes an acquired taste. Thankfully earlier that week we had discovered Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill where we were introduced to the famous “Killer Bee” drink. The name suits it well. It might look like a small innocent drink but it certainly does “sting” like a swarming bunch of white faced hornets you just ran over with your lawn mower. We watched the bartender make them for us but all we could see was his upper arms moving because he was hiding the secret ingredients and the precise measurements of each below the bar and out of sight. I googled the drink “Killer Bee” and found what is claimed to be “damn close” to the original recipe if not exact on the Nevis Blog:

Rum = 1/3 overproof (151º or higher) and 2/3 “normal” rum (NOT SPICED)
Passion Fruit juice (Don’t use the crap with apple or grape juice!)

Mix ahead of time:
1/3 Rum mixture (above)
1/3 Passion Fruit juice (above)
1/3 Club soda
Honey to taste
Lime juice FRESH squeezed

Give us your feedback if you like the recipe. Still, it really is not the same as relaxing on the beach sitting at Sunshine’s bar sipping the drink slowly (or at whatever pace you choose) along with one of his famous grilled seafood delights. You need the familiar sounds of island music playing in the background while a local man tries to panhandle a tip for the entertainment his monkey is providing to really understand the drink.

Nevis is only one island that provides it’s own special drink. You will find local rum drinks bottled and ready just about anywhere. Some are obviously home-made and come without labels on the bottles they are sold in. I did buy one of these once in one of those large open air markets and snuck it back on the cruise ship. It was delicious. Remember though, that anything alcoholic that is unlabeled and made in someone’s home should be cautiously bought and consumed.

There are other stories of delightful drinks only found in the tropics. If you have ever visited St. John you no doubt have tried the popular “Pain Killer”. Most are introduced to this drink the same way my friends and I were. The light brown drinks cooled with ice went down like soda pop as we lounged on the deck of a catamaran that was returning us to St. Thomas after a couple hours of snorkeling at Trunk Bay in St. John. Glasses of the delicious mixture were poured for us by our hostess as the captain touted it as “his secret recipe version” of the popular drink. Those of us who were naive to the fact that the ninety-plus degree sun would add an intense reaction from the drink learned it the hard way. Let’s just say it’s a drink we will not quickly forget. No matter your body size this drink will sway your steps as you manuever over the web of docks back to solid ground as you exit the catamaran. The wooden docks seemed much more narrow and wobbly than before our trip began. The “pain killer” does indeed kill all aches and pains but it also deadens most of the other senses you need to navigate back to the cruise ship. Does it sound like something I would drink again? Absolutely, that’s why when I saw the recipe for this drink in the magazine “Islands”, it was quickly clipped out and is now taped to my refrigerator. It’s also why I now have an adequate supply of coconut cream in my cupboard.

For some, the extent of their Caribbean drink experience is what they are served by the ever-present drink handlers on the cruise ships. Around every corner lurks a young man or woman with tray in hand willing to bring you the drink of the day in exchange for your signature and a swipe of your cruise identity card. Nobody leaves a cruise ship not knowing what a “Bahama Mama” is. New cruisers need to beware that although these drinks are passed out freely and with smiling faces, the charges add up quickly and sometimes will shock you as you review your bill at the end of the cruise. What, those drinks weren’t free?

There are a few delightful bartenders on these cruise ships that offer entertainment and drinks you will not find anywhere else. While sailing on Celebrity’s Constellation a few years back a very unique bartender at the martini bar provided wonderful fun for our group. His name is Sudi. If you google the name “Sudi” along with perhaps the terms ‘Celebrity, Constellation and Bartender’ you will find many delightful accounts of how this young man made many a passengers trip exciting with his uncanny ability to create drinks with a magical flare and at the same time perform card tricks that had a story to accompany each story he told. His genuine people skills made him mesmerizing to his fans. He took a liking to us the first day and asked us to come back late that evening. We were rewarded with martinis that were being constantly topped off and a real good time learning all about him and his family back in Bali. He has gone home now to his home in Bali to be with his new bride. It was fun to see how proudly he would bring pictures out from under the bar to show you pictures of his marriage ceremony. Because of him we tried martinis we would never have tried anywhere else. My favorite was the Mocha Martini”. Sudi - where are you?

Please don’t take from this article that we are promoting alcohol consumption just because we talk about the drinks available. We mention them because they offer another flavor of the islands that some will not want to miss. Drink responsibly and for goodness sake don’t associate our take on the island drinks with the idiotic groups you find on cruise ships wearing those redneck “Cruise to Booze” shirts. My use of “redneck” is generic and there is no specific group isolated by my use of that term. Still, I don’t even know why these boozers vacation on the cruise ships. Seems it would be cheaper to stay plastered for seven days at home watching the Travel Channel.

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