The specialty drinks of the Abacos

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The specialty drinks of the Abacos

Partyers the world over are attracted not only by the taste and colours of the dizzying selection of drinks prepared to order by Mixologists (Bartenders to the rest of us), but also by the often outrageous names of these concoctions. The naming of drinks has become so popular for a variety of reasons the least of which might be because it sounds sophisticated to order a Salty Dog or a Mudslide, but also because the suggestive power of a drink's name has the spell-binding effect of leading the adventurous or the reckless to try it. After all when on vacation, people do tend to want to try anything ... once! Most restaurants and bars in the Abacos, like a family crest displayed at the front entrance, have an identifying drink by which they are known. For example, Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour has the Docksider (a pate orange delicious mix of mango rum, Myer's rum & apricot brandy with a dash of lime juice), Wally' s Restaurant, the Wally's Special, the Jib Room has its Bilge Burner (named for the nightclub formerly on that site the Bilge, which, strangely enough burned to the ground) Flipper's Restaurant has the Flip Flop (fruit juices, Myer's rum, light rum & coconut rum ), there is also the only place I know which serves beer in an elegant pilsner glass; and Mango's has the Hurricane Libby and unusual daiquiris like raspberry and raspberry/mango.

The Abaco Inn at White Sound, on beautiful Elbow Cay has a female Bartender (Guys!), Wilma, who described the house drink to me, the Bahama Breeze a real sweety banana rum, coconut rum, apricot brandy, Bacardi Gold and fruit punch. Club Soleil has the Tropical Shock, whose ingredients are a secret, people. You'll have to try it to find out why. And Bayview Restaurant's is called the Bayview Special, which, Jimmy Williams told me, is made of coconut rum, Tequila, pineapple juice and Cointreau shaken with a dash of grenadine stirred in to give it a distinctive ruby-red colour.

The initial part of my "research" involved discovering exactly what is in some of these things we drink. So, I went over to the Tiki Hut at Marsh Harbour on Bay St., one of my favourite Abaco nightspots, and sat down with owner, Guy Toothe and his co-worker, Robyn Sawyer. Guy gave me a short lesson on types of glasses martini with the inverted pyramid shape highball glass a short tumbler; shot glass a midget version; brandy snifter a bowl shape on a stem; beer stein a heavy glass mug with a handle; and the pilsner goblet a tall, narrow and elegant wine glass on a stem.

Then, we got down to business. Tiki Hut has an array of drinks written on a blackboard and hanging on a wall in the bar area. Its house special is the Sniki Tiki light & dark rum, coconut rum, pineapple, orange, grapefruit and cherry juices. Then, there's Sex-on-the-Beach (everyone should try it at least once) a pretty mixture of peach schnapps, cranberry juice, a splash of orange juice and vodka (optional). I understand Sex-on-the-Beach is best taken standing up, and according to Deidre and Gwen (at Wally's) has a warming effect which creeps on you and makes you feet good!

I am an admitted and unapologetic chocoholic so any drink made with even a suggestion of the cocao bean is popular with me. I took special note of the following Kahlua or Bailey's Original Irish Cream confections: the old-fashioned Brown Cow - Kahlua & milk; the Bushwacker Bailey's, Kahlua, Bacardi Select, (dark rum) Amaretto & dark creme de cocao; the Mudslide - ice-cream, Kahlua, Bailey's & chocolate syrup over ice

Although not a drinker, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about the practice itself So when Guy described "dessert drinks" to me, I was truly surprised. Dessert drinks, like the Bushwacker and Mudslide mentioned earlier, are sweeter and heavier than other drinks and likely to pack on the calories too, weight watchers. The Nutty Bahamian, made of Nassau Royale, Frangelico (with its nutty essence) and Bailey's, then served frozen, is one of these and the Godiva chocolate liqueur, frangelico and half-and-half (cream/milk) tastes like a Cadbury's wholenut bar.

Robyn, who seems to have a talent for remembering the ingredients of popular as well as seldom-seen beverages, had the idea that it was probably the "high society" thing-to-do to be heard ordering a Greyhound (vodka & grapefruit juice) or its sassier sister, the Salty Dog (vodka & grapefruit juice with salt around the rim of the glass), or a Screwdriver (vodka & orange juice). The Tiki Hut also offers fruity favourites like the Pineapple Bomb, Bahama Mama, Tropical Punch, Pia Colada and Planter's Punch. Perennial favourites such as the Yellowbird, Slow Gin Fizz, Singapore Slinger and Margarita still abound. But, we Bahamians also have innocent drinks to offer at bars set up on the beaches Switcher (sweetened limeade) which can also be "leaded" with gin or rum and the not-so-innocent Calypso Vitamin (coconut water, rum and gin) and the Goombay Smash, a drink which was invented at Ms. Emily's Blue Bee Bar in Green Turtle Cay shortly after the Bahamas Goombay Summer Festival began more than twenty-five years ago. It is now world-famous but, as bartender, Genevieve Curry (yes, another talented female) told me, the ingredients are a family secret.

There's a particularly raunchily-named drink called the C..... Cracker or CC for short (sorry fellas and gals, you'll have to do your own research to fill in the blanks).You can ask Mercy (yet another female bartender) for this one at Nancy's Restaurant in Sandy Point, South Abaco. It includes Green Seal (Jamaican rum), sweet milk and cream over cracked ice. Guinness stout can also be added for a different punch. The CC is so named because of its alleged aphrodisiacal effects, especially on women. Nancy's is home to the Sandy Point Smash as well. Wally's Restaurant's peerless bartender, Marcus, can mix you up a daiquiri made of fruit found in this part of the World banana, guava, coconut and a beautiful sunset-yellow mango. He made me an Abaco Sunset light rum, Triple Sec, a dash of banana rum, pineapple juice, frothy egg white and a drop of apricot brandy shaken over ice. Grenadine is drizzled into the beverage in such a way as to create a beautiful "setting sun" effect.

My fiance and I have made an attempt to casually try at least one of the unknown quantities when we embark on our monthly voyages of discovery. He is a sight braver than I am and far less likely to suffer any adverse effects, therefore he is the undisputed taste-tester. We had been encouraged by word-of-mouth recently to taste the Guana Grabber served at Great Guana Beach Resort & Marina. This pale pink beverage is a mix of fruit juices and rum. I had no more than a few sips of the draught and felt mildly affected, while my companion pronounced his drink to be......... wicked!

So, those out there over age 18, over say, 100 lb.., and over-wrought by week's end, raise an elbow or two at one of the Abaco's watering-holes. Sip a Sniki at the Tiki or a Willy at Sapodilly's. Unlike chefs at fine restaurants, bartenders will often share the secrets of their particular brand of gastronomic expertise. Guy and Robyn sat me down for my intensive course in mixology, Marcus explained some of his palette-teasers with enthusiasm, Angels, who also works at Wally's and mixes drinks when Marcus is off, has her own version of the Sunset (The Angel Sunset just add vodka) and Peter Major at Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour's Pool Bar actually reinvented the formerly "too-sweet" ingredients of the Docksider while he had me on the phone. The Spinnaker Restaurant at Treasure Cay keeps its unusual blue-tinted special the Blue Marlin a carefully-guarded secret; I was only told that the colour comes from creme de menthe mixed with something yellow. I would guess, with a name like that, the taste is probably worth about $100.

It's best to know exactly what was in the one that changed your personality isn't it? Easier to explain to the nurse, the policeman or the wife that you had "an allergic reaction" to the frangelico when you gobbled the Godiva or to the peach schnapps when you had Sex-on-the-Beach. That way they will never be sure whether you're lying or telling the truth. Salut! A Sante! Cheers! To your Health!

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