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Glassaholic: Nevada

April 20, 2014

The Nevada is a drink I found in the book Art of the Bar. It’s a great summertime rum drink that differs from the usual rum punch variety of drinks by not being overly sweet. If you make one at sunset at the beach, you can admire the beautiful color as you sip it on the deck.

We just got back from Salt Cay in Turks and Caicos, where we discovered some Salt Cay Rum. I’m using that here just for the heck of it, but a better rum would be Mount Gay Eclipse (or even Extra Old if you’re feeling adventurous). You definitely want a rum on the vanilla/syrupy side of the rum range for this drink. Turns out that Salt Cay rum is more like a central American rum (it is modeled after Zacapa), but we’ll ignore that distinction for now.

The Nevada
1.5 oz dark rum
.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
.3 oz fresh lime juice
.25 oz simple syrup 1:1 (cane sugar)
dash of Angostura bitters
mix in an ice filled shaker. strain. serve up in a cocktail glass. garnish with a lime wedge.

This is a drink that is so good that whenever I share it, most bars pick it right up and add it to their list. Some magic happens and a banana-like flavor emerges from the mix.

Salt Cay is certainly off the beaten path. In fact, one of the only pernicious issues with a visit is the air schedule. M/W/F is pretty much it on the awesome Caicos Express airlines (unless you charter a plane for yourself). So good luck when your rhythm is constrained by the Virginia school system! But all in all, we seek out off the beaten path. Sand, salt ponds, diving, population 60, golf carts, nothing at all to do—perfection.

The Caicos Express Cesna (superb pilots all)

The Caicos Express Cesna (superb pilots all)

Salt Cay: a speck from space

Salt Cay: a speck from space

Castaway is on the north beach up by the airport. Renting a buggy is recommended. Gary has the best deal (and he apparently plays a mean guitar too). Proprietors Haidee and Porter run a nice set of bungaloos.

Castaway from the beach

Castaway from the beach

Inside castaway

Inside castaway

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Sadly, though the shower is phenomenal for Salt Cay (running water, clean, nice), it has a plastic shower curtain. Uh oh! We’ll pretend that didn’t happen.

Plastic curtain?  Say it ain't so.

Plastic curtain? Say it ain’t so.

But besides island donkeys and goats…

Salt Cay donkey

Salt Cay donkey

Island goat

Island goat

there is this incredible Caribbean beach.

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Sunset from Castaway

Sunset from Castaway

Of course, we really came as much for the diving as for the nothing. Deb’s dive shop is not only the island entertainment system, it’s restaurant Coral Reef is also the social hub of the island. But the real gem is Richard, the dive master. Buddha calm under water.

Richard the dive master

Richard the dive master

Coral Reef at Salt Cay Dive Shop

Coral Reef at Salt Cay Dive Shop

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Breakwater cove

Breakwater cove

Prime dinner location

Prime dinner location

Sunset from the breakwater cove.

We had plenty of fun at Coral Reef. Google glass was a phenom (first set on the island). The people of Salt Cay are warm, fun, and a tight community.

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Porter’s bar is also a fun place to carouse. And Island Thyme Restaurant (thanks to Lolli) is the best restaurant on the island. Lolli is a very good cook indeed. If they only kept regular hours…

Of course there are only three restaurants on all of Salt Cay, the other being Pat’s place. We tried them all. Pat is a retired school teacher with great stories of the island.

Karaoke night at Island Thyme after dinner? We’ll never tell.

Apol sings Karaoke

Apol sings Karaoke

Porter’s secret rum punch recipe looks like this:
2 oz white rum
2 oz brown rum
1 oz coconut rum
splash of orange juice
splash of pineapple juice
2 t grenadine
float of Gosling’s family reserve

We tried to teach Porter some new drinks as we tend more toward interesting cocktails than quantity consumed. Will they stick? Lets hope so. There is a very good selection of ingredients available to work with.

Salt Cay is a great place to visit if you’re into roughing it and real Caribbean people. Want to do some nothing? Visit Salt Cay.

We leave you with this.

Salt Cay North Beach

Salt Cay North Beach

Perhaps you feel the same way as we do about Disney. If you love it, stop reading this blog now. If you were sentenced to your Disney time when you had children, well so were we. If you did your time and escaped alive, well don’t come to this island.

After a very low key and pretty great week on Salt Cay (hold your horses, that entry after a glass sync)—lots of diving, great people, no A/C, sand, golf carts, island people politics, and donkeys, we flew Caicos Express to Provo—we were thrust directly and abruptly into Colonel Sanders mode or maybe now we call it Wolfgang Puck mode (same kind of huckster). True American garbage brand imported to the islands. Ouch. Welcome to Villa del Mar.

We went from this:

Salt Cay

Salt Cay

To this (you will have to imagine the pretend clean smell):

Oooh that smell, can't you smell that smell.

Oooh that smell, can’t you smell that smell.

You can keep this place. Super bad “live” music a la Casio blared on arrival with volume not compensating for competence, trees lit by blue (the new red) LED lights, cloroflourocarbons in tens of parts per million ruining the room air, overly clean hamster cage hell, plastic bowls for your free econo-lodge style breakfast, this is it. The people are great, and they are woefully confused by the American consumer’s propensity for schlock.

Open all doors, air out the artificial atmosphere.

Open all doors, air out the artificial atmosphere.

Our advice? Skip provo (or work better Net magic than we did), spend your time in hell after you die, and head straight to Salt Cay and its petty island politics.

At least there is an outside patio for this hamster cage.

At least there is an outside patio for this hamster cage.

But as Turks and Caicos virgins, who is gonna warn you? Maybe this blog?? OK hopefully. Glimmer on hope.

We are trapped in C102. The bathroom looks like this, so maybe our shower-related heuristic is not scaling in the Caribbean.

The shower, she not plastic.  But everything else, she very plastic.

The shower, she not plastic. But everything else, she very plastic.

We leave you with two showerheads and a blue tree. Not returning, ever.

Unnaturally blue.

Unnaturally blue.

Oh, almost forgot. Magnolias is a very decent restaurant. Nice dishes. Dated but decent wine list (featuring picks by that a-hole Robert Parker). Great sweeping terrace view of the bay. Go there and sleep on the streets.

After two very good flights on USAir (the long international one with WiFi), we arrived in Provinciales— referred to as Provo by those in the know.  The airport is tiny, but they take themselves very seriously for an island.  A very expensive ride to anywhere on the island seems somehow like a downscale Orlando.  You’re there, so you are screwed.  The currency of choice is US dollars.  Bring lots.

We spent one night at the Alexanda, about 15 minutes from the airport and right on the ocean.  This is resort style living, replete with palm trees, bad landscaping, tall buildings, and overpriced food.  Nice, but certainly not what I am looking for on a tropical island.  It is beautiful of course, but about as touristy as, say, Disney.  Equally pretend.

A mixup with the room category was straightened out fairly quickly once it became clear we were going to hold our own.  We ended up in 4205, which is for sale BTW in case anybody needs a Disneyfied condo in paradise.

 

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The suite is nicely appointed and could be most anywhere in the world.  Net is free and decent.

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Double wide balcony off the living room and bedroom.

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The bed is very comfortable.

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The shower is not plastic.

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The kitchen is workaday, and there is a washer/dryer combo unit.

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There is a resort pool and several very bad bars.  An attempt to create an El Presidente cocktail was a dismal and complete failure.  The restaurant, mango reef, is way overpriced and low to middling.  Service is attentive if not clueless.  Food needs work. There is espresso in the morning, however, not to mention fresh OJ, and the wine list is ok.

For the record, here is how to make an El Presidente:
1.5 oz aged rum (mt gaye eclipse for example)
0.75 oz dry vermouth
0.75 oz Cointreau
1/2 t grenadine
orange peel twist for garnish
stir down. serve up in a cocktail glass.

One whole night layover before flying Caicos Express to our real destination was just fine.  Four showerheads and some mouse ears for the Alexandra. 

The beach at the Alexandra.  Provo, Turks and Caicos.

The beach at the Alexandra. Provo, Turks and Caicos.

The beach is very nice indeed.