"It's a unicorn." Patrick shook his head. "Like Atlantis or El Dorado, it doesn't exist." My husband has a flare for the dramatic.
I was pretty sure Anegada was a real place, we'd just never been there. It wasn't like we hadn't tried. For the past 17 years of bouncing around the Caribbean on boats, the weather had turned us back each time we'd attempted to go. This time we weren't taking any chances. This time we were flying.
Anegada is the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands so it was a quick flight from where we left the boat in St. Thomas. I knew our plane would be small, but I didn't expect to be only one of three passengers that day.
Upon entering the tiny cabin, our flying mate took off his fedora, shook the much younger pilots hand and said, Busy flight today, Frankie. True, there was only one other seat available, and it held a pile of beat-up, dusty, scuffed bags that looked like they'd been dragged behind the plane, but I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of three people meaning busy.
It wasn't until I'd been on the island for a day that I realized busy was relative. is is an island with less than 300 people living on it. The fact that there are more flamingoes on the island than visitors should have been my first clue this was going to be a quiet weekend.
But sometimes quiet is a good thing. For once, we would spend time relaxing and listening to the waves crash on Horseshoe Reef instead of trying to surf them. Come on. I pulled Patrick's arm causing the hammock on our patio where he was lying to swing. Let's walk down the beach.
He set his book on the side table and pulled his sunglasses down his nose to look over their rim at me like he couldn't quite comprehend what I was saying.
I knew before he even protested this would take some tempting. There's a beach bar.
"Why didn't you say so?" Like many Caribbean beaches, the sand was white and delicate, the sky overhead a baby blue color, and the sun shone bright and blinding. What wasn't like any other beach was the fact we were the only people on this stretch of paradise. We followed one set of footprints that had faded with the lapping ocean. They led from a line of seaweed to a pile of shells, driftwood and debris. Broken sections of fishing nets, one lone flip-flop and a dirty once-white buoy had all washed ashore and lay half-buried in the sand.
"I've been combing beaches around the world for a Japanese glass ball for 30 years and never found one." Patrick ran ahead. "Today could be the day." All of the sudden he loved the idea of scouring the sand.
I was about to point out that sitting in beach bars and bobbing in surf breaks didn't constitute combing the beach but bit my tongue as this was only one of a dozen times Patrick had agreed to walk on the sand with me without an extreme sport as the destination. I didn't want to ruin it. But the leisurely stroll I was envisioning was a little more active as we raced from one pile of rubble to the next sinking in the sand and sifting through fragments of someone's life at sea. We came up empty-handed.
"You ready for a lobster lunch now?" I dusted the sand from my hands as we set o over the dune to scope out the restaurant and bar.
Anegada is an island known for its lobster. The famous Caribbean crustacean was served grilled on menus like many islands, but there were also a number of interesting and exotic dishes. Lobster pizza, nachos, curry, bruschetta, and toast were just a few of the items on the menu that afternoon.I chose one of my favorites; lobster tacos. Steam curled off the coral colored meat wrapped in a corn tortilla and dissipated in the hot humid air around me. I gingerly picked it up, folding the ends in tight as not to lose one bite of the chili-spiked lobster. in shreds of cabbage crunched while the tender texture of the meat melted in my mouth. Sweet soft mangoes mixed with the tang of lime juice as the burn of chilies had me reaching for my rum drink. I curled my toes in the sand under the picnic table and took another bite. It wasn't long before there was nothing left.
"Time for a nap!" Patrick had inhaled his lobster BLT and was signaling for the check. He really was getting into the idea of a relaxed vacation. We dragged ourselves back to our hotel at a more leisurely pace, our bellies full. Patrick kicked at a piece of driftwood and peered underneath but didn't investigate much further. There would be no elusive glass ball this trip.
Dinner that night was an expansion of the lobster theme with items such as lobster bisque, fettuccini and salad. It was blackened, in alfredo sauce, spiced Diavola-style, and fried as a fritter. There didn't seem to be much these chefs couldn't do with the crustacean.
Life on Anegada is laid-back and slow just like our weekend turned out to be. The days rolled along from one lobster meal to the next until it was time to board the same small aircraft back to St. Thomas. If we needed one more reminder of the glacial pace of life, we got it. As we waited alone in the one-room airport, a distant whining of an emergency vehicle grew closer. e alarm seemed out of place on such a quiet island, much more suited to the hustle of a city.
I placed the magazine I was flipping through on the bench and walked over to the window. Outside, a yellow fire and rescue truck revved its engine and sped along the short runway blaring its siren. On the far end, a scrawny brown cow that had been grazing on the grass beside the pavement strip meandered off into the field beyond barely taking notice of the truck barreling down toward it. Runway clearance island-style.
I laughed, wondering if this was an everyday drill. "that might just be the most exciting thing to happen on this sleepy island." I wrapped my arms around Patrick and kissed him. "We may not have found your elusive Japanese glass ball, but we did discover Anegada. It's not so mythical after all."
Remove lobster meat from the shell and dice into bite-sized chunks. Bring a pot of water to a boil with sea salt and lime juice. Add the lobster meat and stir. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Drain and mix with Caesar dressing and hot sauce to your liking. Taste for seasoning.
Mix all the ingredients together.
Dice mango uniform half-inch size. Mince the red onion and jalapeno as small as possible to evenly distribute heat. Mix all the ingredients together and taste for seasoning.Warm eight corn tortillas in a frying pan until they begin to turn golden in color. Top with lobster, coleslaw and mango salsa.
“What do we do with a drunken leprechaun? Early in the morning!”
The same way mysteries of mischievous leprechauns in Irish folklore have transcended through time, the original recipe for this drink is also a mystery. A few variations of this St. Patty’s-themed cocktail are served in local pubs, but most of them include its most important ingredient — good ol’ Irish whiskey. Like a fun twist on the Irish Screwdriver, check out our favorite version of this green concoction.
2 oz Irish Whiskey
1 oz Blue Curaçao
3-4 oz orange juice
Fill a cocktail glass with ice and add whiskey, Blue Curaçao and orange juice. Stir well and garnish with a fresh orange wedge.
This drink is not Irish, but its green color makes for a perfect St. Patty’s Day drink to enjoy at sea. Using the same ingredients but replacing whiskey with tequila, try another easy twist on the classic recipe for a Tequila Sunrise. Sail off toward the horizon while enjoying this beachy beverage.
2 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz Blue Curaçao
3-4 oz orange juice
1 lime and 1 orange wedge
Fill a cocktail glass with ice and add tequila, Blue Curaçao and orange juice. Stir well and garnish with a fresh lime and orange wedge.
For the salty sailor who could use a sweet kick on V-day, this sweet yet tart drink is perfect for your anti-Valentine’s Day party. This ocean-inspired twist on the classic margarita also makes for a perfect waterside cocktail.
1 ½ oz blanco tequila
1 oz Blue Curaçao
¾ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
Splash of orange juice
1 lime and 1 orange wedge
For a salted rim, fill a small plate with lime juice and swirl your glass rim in it, then dip it into a plate of margarita salt and fill your glass with ice. In a separate cocktail shaker with a light amount of ice, pour in tequila, Blue Curaçao, lime juice and a splash of orange juice. Shake thoroughly and strain into your glass and garnish with a lime or orange.
Also known as “The Isaac,” this romantic red drink was created by original Love Boat cast member Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender. Inspired by his signature bright red jacket mixed with the show’s sweet theme, the delicious libation is a perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail for boat lovers.
2 oz white rum
2 oz pomegranate syrup
½ oz fresh lime juice
Splash of club soda
2 pineapple leaf spears
Fill highball glass with ice. In separate cocktail shaker, fill with ice, white rum, pomegranate syrup and lime juice. Shake and strain into highball glass and top it with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a fresh lime slice and two pineapple spears.
*Check out a special segment from Princess Cruises where actor Ted Lange gives a demo of the Love Boat cocktail that debuted on the cruise line in 2015.
In my quest for the best Caribbean Rum, I’ve sampled a few. From Appleton to Ron Zacapa rum, my tastebuds have celebrated the luscious flavors borne from fermenting sugarcane into smooth amber elixirs.
In the pursuit of rum perfection, I’ve noticed that a well-designed label can give clues about what awaits inside the bottle. Many simply present the distiller’s name and location where a rum derives its unique flavors. But it’s hard to resist the image of a crusty old captain, pirate ship or sassy sea wench when pouring a hefty splash into a tumbler.
Curious rum aficionados like myself are always eager to hear the back story behind the libation in our hand. Like a slice of pineapple or lime wedged upon the rim of a glass, the history of a rum’s journey from the Caribbean to our lips can make a cocktail taste even sweeter.
I recently stumbled upon the extraordinary tale that intertwines Jamaican rum, world- class musicians and James Bond. To fully appreciate this unique saga, follow my lead and shake up a GoldenEye Cocktail (see recipe below) to sip while the story unfolds.
Our story begins in 1939, when a London journalist named Ian Fleming joined the British Navy Intelligence Service. His unit specialized in military espionage and covert plans to thwart German aggression in Europe and the Caribbean.
During World War II, Fleming was engaged in Operation GoldenEye, and in 1942 he was sent to investigate suspicions about Nazi submarines in the Caribbean. During this deployment, he became enamored with Jamaica and vowed to live there some day.
When the war was over, Fleming returned to Jamaica and bought 15 acres of plush land that was once used as a donkey racetrack. In 1945, he built a house not far from the banana port town of Oracabessa Bay, and the seaside property became Fleming’s tropical sanctuary where he could focus on writing and the discrete task of taking previously tight-held secrets into a public, fictional genre.
He named the estate GoldenEye as a tribute to his Navy service and began working on a book that evolved around the dashing spy and Special Agent 007, James Bond. This protagonist would emerge as the amalgamation of agents he’d met during his maritime service. As an avid birdwatcher, Fleming took the name for his lead character from American ornithologist James Bond, an expert on Caribbean birds, who wrote the definitive field guide, Birds of the West Indies.
Fleming’s first spy novel, Casino Royale, was published in 1952. This book and all 13 in the James Bond series were written in his bedroom at GoldenEye. Three of them — Dr. No, Live and Let Die, and The Man with the Golden Gun — take place in Jamaica.
Not only did the breezy island life at GoldenEye inspire Fleming’s novels, but so did his fetching neighbor, Blanche Blackwell. She was the muse who helped spark his creative drive. The Blackwell family had lived in Jamaica since 1625, exporting bananas and coconuts and crafting a distinctive brand of rum.
Blanche’s son Chris Blackwell grew up between England and Jamaica, and in his childhood spent a good amount of time with Fleming. In 1954, after Blackwell got booted from an elite British school for rebellious behavior, he came back to the island to get involved in the family rum business. Contrary to plan, he followed his instincts and made a career choice that would dramatically alter the global music scene.
For a while, he kicked around working as the aide-de-camp to the governor and as a waterskiing instructor. But after hearing the blind pianist Lance Heywood play at the Half Moon Resort, Blackwell recorded the musician, and in 1959 he launched a music studio called Island Records. In sync with his unconventional style, it became known for discovering and nurturing innovative performers who had been shrugged off or overlooked by bigger record labels.
Island Records introduced the world outside of the Caribbean to Bob Marley and the Wailers and Jamaican reggae music, showcasing island culture and universal struggles of indigenous people. It launched British bands such as Traffic, Bad Company, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Roxy Music, King Crimson and Fairport Convention. It also cultivated artists such as Cat Stevens, Brian Eno, Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Tom Waits and the Irish band, U2.
Throughout his success in the music industry, Blackwell remained in contact with Fleming and his projects. When the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica in 1962, Blackwell was hired as a location scout and consulted on the soundtrack. Sir Sean Connery, whom Blackwell had met during the filming of Dr. No, remained a friend until his passing in 2020. Using a family recipe, Blackwell launched his boutique rum in 2008 that is distributed around the globe.
Live and Let Die was filmed in 1973 on the Blackwell Estate, which now includes The Fleming Villa. Scenes from the movie were shot near GoldenEye, Blackwell’s luxury hotel in Jamaica. The latest Bond flick, No Time to Die, returns to the exquisite Jamaican backdrop of GoldenEye, and the production team was treated to a supply of Blackwell Rum for inspiration while filming.
TO CELEBRATE 60 YEARS OF JAMES BOND, a special bottle of Blackwell Rum has been released, along with a new memoir by Chris Blackwell, The Islander: My Life in Music and Beyond. If you’re cruising around Jamaica this winter, cue up some Bob Marley tunes, open a bottle of Blackwell’s 007 Rum, and shake it (don’t stir) with pineapple juice and ice to create the GoldenEye Cocktail. And if you’re nestled in at home in a colder climate and dreaming about the Caribbean, we suggest watching a Bond flick and warming up with the Toasted Toddy.
-1 part Blackwell Rum
-1 part pineapple juice
-Lime or pineapple wedge
Shake together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime or pineapple wedge
-3 parts Blackwell Rum
-2 teaspoons brown sugar
-1 1⁄2 parts fresh lemon juice
-6 parts boiling water
Add all ingredients to a mug, except for the water. Pour in the boiling water, Stir well to blend
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