The Ideal Drink—Tropical Cocktails at the Tiki Bikini in Nassau

Just as there is an ideal drink for each particular environment, it is the environment, in and for itself, which produces the ideal drink,” Mr. Cohiba

A portly, red man sits in a yellow inter tube, buoyed in the middle of impeccable blue waters. It’s a sight of stark contrasts, jarring to the eye from shore.

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Junkanoo, or as the locals call it ‘the long wharf’ is known for it’s sweeping sun-filled strip, like a South beach of the Bahamas. Palms sway overhead as shade, and the crash of the surf is only feet away. Cruise ships port nearby and drop swathes of restless vacationers each day. Shops  open, and the Bahamas is in business as the locals try to pawn wooden carvings, vibrant patterned dresses and massages on tourists. 

Plopped in the center of it all is a seaside shack known as the Tiki bikini hut. Their special of the day reads ‘4 shots and 4 beers for 10 Bahamian dollars,’ in lazy handwriting. The currency exchange is 1 to 1—it’s an amazing deal regardless.

But we’re on vacation, and it’s the down season, so why get hammered drunk when you can relax with a tropical libation.

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After a long trek to the island’s only McDonalds, where I purchased and mixed a McCafe and a Bounty bar Mcflurry, I returned to the beach to see my two comrades snoozing with faces full of sand.  My girlfriend has a habit of saying, ‘I fell asleep,’ every time she wakes up, still half in a dream state–I can’t help but smile at this. We shook our friend Brandon, and told him it was time for some drinks.

We walked up to a small bar area in the center, and almost immediately, the manager zoomed around the corner to greet us. He was a gregarious guy, and seemed to know everyone that sat on his barstools. Pointing at the two bartenders, he said ‘they’ll help you out,’ with a pat and a wink.

When the tourists hurry back to their cruiser,  the shipmates swing by for a quick drink. The locals then call it a day, start pack up their shops and huddle around the hut waiting for service. 

All together we tried these particularly sweet drinks.

img_0631I ordered a Sky Juice, a gin-coconut blend, my girlfriend ordered an orange drink called a Bahama Mama, and Brandon had the classic Pina Colada.

The Sky Juice was the strongest of the three, an interesting drink consisting of gin, coconut water, condensed milk, sugar and cinnamon. The two others are rum based drink–you know the Caribbean people and their rum. The Bahama Mama consists of light and dark rums, pineapple and orange juices shaken together and poured over ice. A Caribbean Pina Colada is pineapple juice, coconut water (as opposed to cream),  and light rum blended into frappe and garnished.

After a couple of these I looked around, and noticed everyone was feeling the island spirits.  The drinks weren’t amazing, but the vibe was just right and enough to carry you through  a velvet sunset. At this place and time, these drinks receive the highest honor of the ideal drink.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

Our brief history with Rice Whiskey–Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Somewhere in Northern Laos–The first experience I had with the stuff, was hardly into our first day. And it wasn’t optional. Our boat rested at the rickety wooden docks of a small village with huts that dotted the lush greenery of the Mekong riverbank.

A welcome committee to us Westerners, as we were allured into a restaurant with a sign advertising free whiskey, and a free shot given to us at dinner, and pretty much a free shot anytime the waiter passed our table. But no, scratch that, my first experience was our guest house at the moment of our arrival. We were basically forced to take a shot every time someone signed papers. I looked at a table surrounded by a bunch of smiles that said ‘get me outta here,’ and fake nods when she offered us more shots. It seemed innocuous. But after each of the six of us finished off an entire bottle with our host, our stomachs were burning and centers of gravity shifted. We decided to grab dinner to quell the burn, but couldn’t escape it, and I had the feeling that this ride had only just begun.

View of the Mekong River

I’m joking, free alcohol is never too bad of a thing, maybe dangerous, but in this case I appreciated the gesture, I just didn’t want it to get sloppy when we had another day of boat travel ahead. Nevertheless, it was the friendliest welcome, from the most unfriendly whiskey I have ever tasted.

Views from the Pak Ou Caves, Laos

A chorus of roosters broke the spell on the dawn of the following day, and we were off. The last leg of our journey to the idyllic Luang Prabang. Emerald waters flowed smoothly, and the Dutch backpackers decided to take the lead, and get plastered while we dozed off in the back of the boat to the sound of riverwater and paddling oars.

The days in Luang Prabang were fruitful, serene and site-driven, often with a bottle of rice whiskey in hand.  Draped in orange cloaks, the monks paced about with no need for hurry.

Relax, enjoy the aroma of french bread at dawn, and the lights and sounds of the night market at dusk as the Mekong river slowly slides by.

Downtown Luang Prabang

On our first night we discovered that a 750 ml bottle of the drink sells as low as $3 American.  Some drink journalists say that in Vientiane, the nation’s capitol, and in other, less touristic cities it is the cheapest hard liquor in the world.

Dare I say that we over did it, one of my buddies passed out on the front steps of our guest house. We slapped him a couple of times, and luckily he rallied. Somehow, someway and after some amount of time we ended up at the local bowling alley, putting up strikes, and beating Dutch backpackers in our Californian past time–it was their King’s Day too, so the victory was twice as sweet (I’m kidding guys, I swear). Afterwards, we decided to search for something a bit more clandestine and potent, and I’ll stop there. One of the few times a drink got the best of us.

The upper caves

This Whiskey calls for a specific ratio of Whiskey Coke mix to make it palatable. As most versions of the well are poured at a 3:2 or 3:1.5 even, Lao Lao (its street name) deserves a generous pouring of Coke at a 4:1.5 ratio. Or, if you and your coterie feel the need to put some hair on your chest, go ahead, take it straight, and tell them Mr. Cohiba recommends it. 😉

Con Amor,

Alexander Gittleman

Piña Colada-Hin Wong Bungalows, Koh Tao, Thailand

Sairee, Koh Tao

Ao Hin Wong, Thailand-On the far side of Koh Tao, there is a secluded beach that’s protected from the normal hubbub of backpackers. Watch the days spread before you like a glimmering Southeast Asian cove, and the nights slip over the sky like a dark gown, cloaking the day with a seductive nostalgia leaving you wanting more.

Huddled around a table–cards are shuffled, jokes dealt, cigars puffed, watches set and drinks are improvised. We needed an alternative. The Hong Thong and Coke Zero mix was pedestrian at its best, and nauseating in its worst hours, so the second night found us getting a little more creative. The Hin Wong bungalows have one of the highest ratings primarily due to their stellar views, and frothy coconut shakes. Utilizing what was at our disposal–these famous coconut shakes, Thailand’s very own Sam Song rum, and pineapple juice–we created the Hin Wong Colada, something exclusively reserved for this idyllic place in time.

Continue reading “Piña Colada-Hin Wong Bungalows, Koh Tao, Thailand”

Long Island Iced Tea-Street Side Bar, Bangkok, Thailand

  • 1 pony of Vodka
  • 1 pony of gin
  • 1 pony of light rum
  • 1 pony of White Tequila
  • 1 pony of triple sec
  • 1 pony of fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 pony of simple syrup

Shake, strain, and top with cola. Lemon wedge for garnish.

It was a Boogie night; Continue reading “Long Island Iced Tea-Street Side Bar, Bangkok, Thailand”