What’s not to love about Florida!? Sub-tropical weather, sailing blue ocean, white beaches, and rum! My favourite Florida variety is Bad Bitch from Key West, which is well worth a trip!
When I arrived for a wee break on the beach it was apparent that there were storms brewing in the Atlantic! Could there be a Hurricane heading my way? By Hurricane, I don’t mean the sugary New Orleans favourite that has contributed to so many “where am I” moments. 😉
Side note: I must say if they don’t use the obligatory mixes and do it classily with restrained use of Passion Fruit syrup you can get a rather splendid drink.
Anyway, real hurricanes are more scary than refreshing. When I realised one may be heading to the West Coast of FL, where our sailboat was resting comfortably under the care of Seaking, my son’s yacht management company. I thought ok, I’ll head out east to west.
Since I had time, I jogged north a little to visit our friends Rocky and Nish at Rocky’s rather splendid cigar bar ‘Burn’ located in the very entertaining Mercato Naples. I enjoyed a perfectly appropriate lancero by our proprietor and a rather pleasant Bacardi-based Mojito with just the right blend of sugar and mint. All cool here, let’s head South to check on that Beneteau ”Puffnaway “.
Arriving at the Marina it was a beautiful sunny day, but there was a hustle about the place as it seemed more likely that the storm was heading this way.
So some hours after helping clean and prep the boat, for what we still hoped would pass us by…I hopped into the Marina pool for a cooling swim and a ‘boat‘ made Mojito.
Every sailor has a stash of rum and mine includes some that I have to carry with me from the other side of the Atlantic due to not being able to buy Cuban rum in FL. El Rumbo is to me the ideal base for a Mojito, 100-proof Cuban rum shipped to Wales that spent time resting in Snowdonia Distillery in freshly emptied Cognac casks, it punches through the sugar and mint with just the right balance of flavour and strength. Now storm concerns are drifting away…at least for me after the 2nd one…though the chatter and nervous energy around the Marina sense more.
That evening we enjoyed a family dinner with an array of nicely prepared fresh seafood at Fin Bistro and Antinori Pepoli Chianti, one of my favourites. After a peaceful sleep on the boat, we battened down hatches and left the rest to the professionals to get her ready to brace for whatever may come.
We are heading back east, away from the inevitable visit of Hurricane Ian. The best part of my exodus from stormy weather is one of my favourite Florida spots, which is on the way, Everglades City! This Stone Crab capitol of the World has so much to offer Alligators, Airboats, and Awesome fishing in 10,000 Islands. This little historic town, once Calusa Indian territory, houses the rather splendid, although admittedly a touch tired Rod and Gun Club.
As you step through the doors you step back in time. A dark embrace of nostalgia floats the hallways with stunning taxidermy and relics of its illustrious past as a premier fishing hunting lodge. We sat down and shared the best of the season (stone crab season hasn’t started), so fresh out of the Everglades sautéed alligator, fresh local frog legs, and blackened Hogfish will do just fine thank you!
Before we embark on our journey back East, I spend an hour or two in my favourite of swimming pools, now don’t ask me why. Sitting to the side of the R&G Club it’s a relic that I treasure, a stone waterfall and rough stone coping. It’s certainly not everybody’s favourite but then again it’s one of the reasons I love it. Mostly it’s mine alone or shared with a couple local kids, but perfectly cooling from this hot balmy air.
Now there are no cocktails available at R & G club, however resourceful I am and thanks to my wife picking up mint at Seed to Table. With a little rum and soda from the bar, I have my primitive but tasty Mojito in the pool while enjoying an Oliva Orchant seleccion cigar. Tell me that’s not living!
So now back across alligator alley to our wee spot on the beach, where I’m sure I have some rum! Oh, maybe not, might have to fly back to Blighty to stock up!
I did find some El Rumbo Coconut rum made with fresh sugar cane and fresh coconuts…makes a lighter more tropical variation Mojito. That saved the day.
*Update: Hurricane Ian devastated part of Florida’s west coast. While we escaped with only minor damage, our prayers are with those who lost families, homes, and boats.