But what most vacationers want is a proper beach drink
Very few geographical locations of any kind have so defined a single family of cocktails than beaches.
While the list of beach drinks is seemingly endless, such cocktails usually have a few basics in common. For one, they almost always contain rum, even if there are a variety of other liquors involved.
Secondly, no beach drink can truthfully call itself a beach drink without a splash or more of fruit juice, be it pineapple, cranberry, orange, papaya, pomegranate or any other of the untold number of items that grow on trees or bushes.
Most, though not all, beach drinks also tend to be colorful. Beach drinks often are bright red, orange or yellow from the fruit juices or more exotically blue or even purple from liqueurs.
What they never are is heavy, bitter or smoky.
“Just being in the sun and out on the beach makes people want something more light and refreshing and a little sweet,” said Billy Bunch, director of operations at Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, 2107 Postoffice St. in Galveston’s downtown. “When you’re making drinks for the beach, you tend to use more fruit, especially citrus. It’s tropical after all.”
At Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, a restaurant and bar that strives for a New Orleans feel, Bunch has created a number of drinks that fit the beach theme. The Shark Bite, for example, borrows a bit from the famed Bourbon Street Hurricane drinks. It brings together spiced rum, Blue Curacao, sweet and sour with just a bit of pineapple juice for what might be called more a blue norther than a hurricane.
His G-Town Beach Tea is one of Little Daddy’s more popular drinks, again borrowing from another well-known drink — the Long Island Ice Tea. Long Island Ice Tea is a potent — 22 percent alcohol — cocktail with varying amounts of tequila, vodka, gin, rum and triple sec. Cola or maple syrup is added to give it a tea color, so there’s no actual tea. Being sans fruit juice is one of the reasons Long Island Ice Tea is a questionable beach cocktail, plus one credible story of its origin indicates it was created in the 1920s during Prohibition not on the coast in Long Island, New York, but in a community called Long Island near Kingsport, Tennessee. New Yorkers lay their claim to the drink showing it was an entry in a 1972 cocktail contest.
Bunch gives his G-Town Beach Tea credentials by including both cranberry juice and lemonade in the mix.
In the world of beach drinks, adapting drinks from other drinks is nothing rare or anything to be ashamed of. In bars across this country there are almost too many versions of Sex on the Beach to be counted, meaning the cocktail, of course. Thought to have originated in Florida in the 1990s, this is one beach drink that usually does not have rum included, although some versions add it in. Its primary alcohol is vodka, which is combined with one or two citrus juices and a variety of schnapps, the kind varying with the recipes.
A few other familiar beach cocktails include Sand in Your Shorts, the aforementioned Hurricane, Piña Colada, Tidal Wave, Rum Punch, Beachcomber, Lost Bikini and Sun Kiss.
One other thing all these drinks have in common is the fact each one is easily adaptable to be made in quantity, either as a punch or by the pitcher. None have any carbonated ingredients that would go flat if made in large batches.
In the larger family of beach drinks, there’s a large and well-loved subgroup of which almost everyone is familiar and which also is resurging in popularity. These are the crazy uncles of the cocktail world known as tiki drinks. Created in a California beach bar nearly a century ago, these drinks evolved into an entire culture of food, décor, embellishments and even people who refer to themselves as tikiphiles.
As can be imagined, tiki drinks are indeed perfect beach cocktails, enlivened with lots of rum and fruit juices and creatively served so as to pay homage to a lost South Pacific island civilization. Certainly among the more famous tiki drinks found at beaches around the country are the Zombie, Mai Tai, Blue Hawaii, Beachcomber and Bahama Mama.
In fact, it was the revival of the tiki bar and drink that also returned long overdue attention to the poor ancient mariner in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” poem, with the lines “water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink” fame.
In 1998, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, founder of Latitude 29 in New Orleans and the man often credited for bring back the tiki craze, offered the Ancient Mariner in his and Annene Kaye’s Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log drink book. The drink includes two kinds of rum, a pimento-flavored liqueur, a little simple syrup and both lime and pineapple juice.
The Ancient Mariner name was decided on because, “By the time we finished, that’s how old we felt,” Berry said.
This is a cocktail created by Billy Bunch, director of operations at Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, 2107 Postoffice St. in Galveston.
G-town Beach Tea
½ ounce vodka
½ ounce rum
½ ounce gin
½ ounce tequila
½ ounce triple sec
1 ounce lemonade
1 ounce cranberry juice
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over ice in cocktail glass. Top with the cranberry juice.