Red Snapper and Killer Bee's in Nevis, Leeward Islands, West Indies

You'll Want to Get Stung By This Bee!


"Sca-a-a! Sunshine," the imposing Rasta owner of Sunshine's Beach Bar on Nevis puffed his chest and lunged at the green vervet monkey who did not move. "Get outta here." The monkey tilted his head to one side and stared quizzically at Sunshine with a look that said, "Mister, we've been through this before. Do you really think I'm scared of you?" Sunshine turned away disgusted. "They came over as pets from Africa when the sugar plantations were runnin'," he said. "Now they're everywhere." He scowled again at the monkey as it twiddled my red snapper head in its hands. "Sorry 'bout that. At least it wasn't my Killer Bee" he swiped. I shrugged as I looked down at the platter of food I'd already ravaged before the little thief swung down and stole the bones on my plate. Sunshine's deep laugh  filled the open air, his dreadlocks bouncing with amusement. "I'd lose all my customers if the monkeys started thieving the drinks. Killer Bees is what brings 'em in, but it's my grill they come back for."

I've been sailing the waters of the Caribbean for the past 16 years. That translates into a lot of rum drinks drinks with names like Painkiller, Bushwhacker, and Shipwreck but I'd never heard of a Killer Bee until we arrived on tiny Nevis in the Leeward Islands. As of late, my husband Patrick had become a bit of a rum connoisseur, taking in festivals and seeking out Ron Zacapa Centenario to sip. He was even contemplating taking classes through the acclaimed Rum University. Without a local distillery on the island to tour, he'd set out in search of a rum drink he'd been told about by a crew member a potion called the Killer Bee. I wasn't sure what was in a Killer Bee, but I knew I'd been longing for one since eight that morning. We'd set out to hike to the island's highest point, at 3,232 feet, before hitting the beach for lunch. It wasn't long after entering the tropical rainforest, on our way past an abandoned and overgrown sugar plantation, that I started talking about our planned post-hike lunch at Sunshine's.

"Is good place," our guide William nodded his head. But ...  I thought he was going to suggest another location, a favorite of his, maybe Bananas, a gourmet treehouse-like hideaway we'd had lunch at the day before and had never wanted to leave. Instead, William nodded his head to the muddy path ahead of us. "It's more of a climb than a hike."  The cool, moist mountain air did little to alleviate the building hunger and thirst as we pulled ourselves up and over the volcanic steps, using tree roots, hanging vines of the lush green forest, and well- worn ropes xed in place when we needed the extra help. My thighs screamed for a respite on the beach, even as my stomach howled for food. The eventual descent was a cruel scramble, sliding down the muddy rocks while my stomach growled. My knees were killing me. I was earning both lunch and a Killer Bee the hard way.

"One and you're stung. Two and you're stunned. Three is a knockout," Sunshine told me after I collapsed at a table on his deck and ordered my second Killer Bee. The first passionfruit and honey-flavored cocktail had disappeared surprisingly quickly and I was starting to buzz. The next one arrived with our food barbecued ribs and peas and rice for Patrick, a whole grilled snapper for me. I instantly forgot about my aching body.  The snapper was fresh, having swum in the sea just hours earlier right past the very beach we were looking out over, and was slathered with a Caribbean-flavored herb paste that balanced sizzling hot, scotch bonnet chilies with cooling herbs. I ran my fork over the bones to flake away as much of the moist fillet as was possible without actually picking them up and sucking the leftover bits. It seemed I wasn't the only one with that idea.

"There's one of the monkeys." Patrick pointed to Sunshine's green, yellow, and red roof. We'd seen a few of them early on in the hike at the lower elevations where fruit trees were prevalent. I'd read that there were more monkeys on the island than people.

I raised my hand to shield the blinding sun and caught a glimpse of a monkey on the move. He scampered down a wooden post, bounded a few feet to our table and jumped up, using one hand to grab the snapper bones and the other to swing down to the sand. He tucked the fish head under his arm and scurried to the safety of a palm tree.

I laughed and sucked down the last of my Killer Bee as Sunshine came over to scare away the monkey.

I wasn't too upset. The little thief just added to the atmosphere of the tiny island I was rapidly falling in love with. I knew from my earlier research that I'd like it, but the brochures of brilliant sunshine, untouched white sand beaches, and the sparkling sapphire Caribbean Sea did not warn me that I'd need to use a prison arm to eat lunch on the beach.

Killer Bee

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup light rum
  • 1/2 cup passionfruit juice
  • 1 dash bitters
  • 1/4 cup club soda
  • Nutmeg and lime, for garnish

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the honey and 1 tablespoon water for 30 seconds or until the honey is dissolved. Stir in rum, juices and bitters; divide evenly between two glasses with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with nutmeg and lime.

Caribbean Green Seasoning

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ½ bunch thyme, picked
  • ½ bunch basil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • ½ scotch bonnet, seeded and chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and chop to a fine paste.

Grilled Whole Red Snapper

  • 1 whole 2-3 pound red snapper,
  • cleaned and scaled
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¾ cup green seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Make three to four parallel, 3-inch-long slashes on each side of the snapper's belly, slicing deep into the flesh. Season with salt and fill the slashes and belly with ½ cup green seasoning. Rub canola oil over the skin of the fish. Stir the remaining green seasoning into the olive oil and place in a small dish.Heat the grill to 500 degrees and coat the bars with cooking spray. Set the fish on the grill and reduce the temperature to moderate heat (350-400), turning once, until the flesh just flakes with a fork, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove the fish from the grill and transfer to a platter. Serve with the remaining green seasoning, peas and rice, steamed vegetables and one or two Killer Bees.

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Rum, Reggae & Spies!
The beach at Fleming Villa | Source GoldenEye

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.


James Bond Dr No Poster Credit Flickr

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.


Chris Blackwell | Credit GoldenEye

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.

GoldenEye | Credit GoldenEye



-1 part Blackwell Rum

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-Lime or pineapple wedge


Shake together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime or pineapple wedge

Toasty Toddy | Credit GoldenEye



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-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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Christmas Morning Punch | Credit Kozak-Salo, Getty Images

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Fall Cocktail | Source Veselova Elena from Getty Images

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