Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Spring Break Party 2013 Begins

    Next week kicks off the 2013 edition of Spring Break in Key West.   The annual invasion of the college students from all around the country.   This annual migration is always a great time to be had by all that are young at heart enough to enjoy the hi-jinx. 

     If the sounds of scooter horns blowing and a lot of college students letting off steam for the next three weeks, Key West is not where you want to be.   The beaches will be covered with the masses of student bodies basking in the sun and chillin' out.    The roar of the music and the all out 24 hour party time is upon us.  

     I know that the town will be jumping, we hope for a fun and safe Spring Break 2013, and a whole lot of fun for all.   Bring the party on, I'm ready to have it happening again.   ;o)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rum Renaissance Just Over a Month Away

     The 2013 edition of the Rum Renaissance Festival opens on the 15th of April and runs through the 21st.   If you haven't got you tickets and room reservations, time is starting to run out.   There are so many events and seminars there to enjoy that you will need the entire week to take it all in.  Get your tickets and all the information you need for the show at  

     The Grand Tasting on Saturday will get you up close and personal with all of your favorite rums.  A chance to expose yourself to some of the finest rums and the people that produce them for you.     Did I mention all of the beautiful models that will be there to offer you these great rums.

     During the week there are a number of VIP events for those that pick up the complete VIP package.   There are parties every evening hosted by the rum producers are way to much fun.  The event gives you a chance to talk with the RumXP's that will be here acting as judges for the "Great Rum Challenge".   There are Tiki Competitions, Tropical libations and island culture exhibits.  The Award ceremony for the Great Rum Challenge is always a very special event you don't want to miss.

    There is so much fun to be had and a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from the event.   I'll be there all week long, filling my head with new knowledge and my palate with fine rum.   See Ya there.  ;o)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Antigua: The Contrasts

     Antigua, one of the leeward islands if the West Indies, provides many contrasts as you travel around this very contrasting island.   On the east you have the very turbulent seas that are seen from the high cliffs that the sea is constantly pounding against.  The high point being the "Devil's Bridge".  


     To the South you have English Harbour and the Nelson's Dockyards, a much more serene and calm sea is found in this area.  This is the famous harbour that protected the British Navy, and gave them a safe haven for repairs and restocking.


    The Southwest corner of the Island is a dense rain forest that almost requires the use of headlights as you traverse through the canopy.  It lets you out into the beautiful beaches of the western side of the island.

     The road moves inland through the countryside that is another contrast of fields of grasses and grazing goats and other animals as you move back toward the city and the end of the journey around Antigua.

Monday, February 25, 2013

There May be Light at the End of the Tunnel

Raul Castro
    In Mexico City it was announced that Raul Castro has accepted the new five-year term as Cuban President.  He also promised that it would be his final term in office.   This will be the first time since 1959 when the rebels came down from Sierra Maestra to take control of Cuba that a Castro hasn't been in control of the country.    First in line as a successor to the Castro regime is Miguel Diaz-Canel, an electrical engineer, who became Minister of Higher Education, Vice president for the Council of Ministries, and yesterday named as the Raul's Vice President of Cuba.

Miguel Diaz-Canel

     What other possibilities will this have for the Americans that so want to visit and enjoy the products of Cuba?  With the Cuban financial problems, and the failing health of Castro ally Hugo Chavez, it is time for the change that has a possibility of getting the U.S. Embargo lifted.     Though there are many problems that still need to be cleared up, this is the time to work on normalizing relations with Havana. 

    With the first relinquishing of power the the younger generations since the revolution, this will be a great opportunity to return to having a good neighbor to the south of me, just 90 miles away.   I'm still looking forward to taking the boat down and explore this wonderfully colorful and exciting place.  Not to mention that I would like to say YES, when my customers as for "Havana Club" Rum.  ;o)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Twisted Power of the Sea and the Wind

   The powers of Mother Nature are sometimes very surprising, it always gets my attention when I see a dock and bushes done up like this.   ;o)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Thinking about the Lake

     The snow reports and listening to my friends that are still up in the Lake Norman area, sending pictures of snow and very cold days right now remind me of why I am in Key West today.  Yesterday was in the 80"s down here in Key West, not to be rubbing it in, I'm really glad to be here in the winter time.   There were many good times we all had on the lake, times and people I still miss a lot. 

    We use to get together every January or February for a first raft-up and have a great time just getting back on the water for the first time each year.  This was a great time and usually included a gallon or two of my original "Hurricane Bob", a fun rum concoction that was pretty well known around the lake in the 2002 through 2005.    It was a chance for the lake set to get together for some fun and tell the stories of the winter and how we couldn't wait for spring so we could get back on the lake again.    Most of us have migrated around the country now, but there are still a pretty good sized group that are still living up there on the lake today.

     It was the many days on the lake that got me headed to Key West and a full time life on the water that I am living today.   I still have the wander-lust that keeps me exploring the areas around the Keys that I had when I could be found exploring the un-settled parts of the lake.   The old "Sea Ray Santiago" as she was called, really a Bayliner, but because a close friend worked for Sea Ray, and couldn't be seen on anything else, we put Sea Ray insignias on the side and all was good with the world and my friends.

    Times change, and boats get swapped out, but the fun of being on the water really doesn't change much.  On the lake, we would jump into the boat and head to the Rusty Rudder there on the lake to get together with friends and a few cocktails, today it is a dinghy ride to the Hurricane Hole here on Stock Island for the same purpose, still just as much fun with good friends and good "spirits".   Thanks for sharing my water world, it is always a blast.  ;o)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dieting Drinkers Rejoice

     Several public interest groups have been urging the Treasury Department to finish up rules for the comprehensive labeling of alcoholic beverages.   These labels will contain such information as serving size, number of servings per container, ounces of alcohol per serving, calories per serving, and ABV percent.   This is all part of a push to modernize the labels on alcoholic beverages in order for the consumer to better understand how much alcohol they are consuming as well as dietary information.  

     I feel that this is going to be a goo thing on many fronts.  I stand behind a bar 5 days a week serving cocktails, you would not believe the number of people that are concerned about what cocktails and what liquors have the most calories.   Lets face it, this country is calorie conscious, people make decisions on what they consume based on the calorie content as well as taste.   In the liquor industry the light beers by far out sell the standard beers, and in cocktails there are almost as many diet soda requests as the regular ones.

     There is hope that the new labeling rules will be in effect this year.   In a joint letter from the public interest groups that are pushing the Treasury Department to  finalize the labeling rules said,"The need to modernize the alcohol beverage labels so that consumers can better understand how much alcohol they are consuming, and to comply with the Dietary Guidelines, has been unaddressed for far to long.   Better alcohol awareness con not happen without better labeling."  Of the two that I have been able to find, the more detailed one like the Diageo on I feel has more of the information that I would find helpful, the other on is far to basic.    Come on "T Men" lets get it done, we really do need this information in the alcohol industry like we do in any other industry that makes things that we consume.   ;o)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Remembering the Travel Spots

     I find it funny what I remember about the places that I travel.  I was thinking this morning about my visit to Diplomatico last November and as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality and tasting all of the great rums, it was the monkeys that stick in my mind today.  When we left on our last day in the compound, we spotted a group of monkeys up in the trees of the parking lot.   The characters were quite entertaining and left me with an indelible picture of the Diplomatico Compound and how green their entire operation really was.   It isn't often that you find mother nature living in a "factory area" these days.  

    There is something about viewing birds, fish and animals in the wild that I find very heart warming and to be able to photograph them then share them with people is even more fulfilling.

    These monkeys were high in the mahogany trees that grow in and around the compound.  They seemed to be as interested in us as we were in them.   These guys were really clowns, and jumping from branch to branch showing off their skills as acrobats.   We spent close to a half an hour just admiring these wonderful creatures as they moved about in the canopy of the trees they call their home.

     You would be amazed what you can see if you look up from the sidewalk to observe what is around you as you move day to day about this planet.   The animals will watch you as you watch them, maybe for different reasons, but we do all co-exist in our environment and should be able to enjoy each others company.  ;o)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

St. Johns from the Water

   St Johns is one of the real gems of the U.S. Virgin Islands, with its national park and inherent natural beauty it is always a place of interest for travelers to the area.  This island is the first stop as you enter the Sir Francis Drake Channel as you leave Red Hook and St. Thomas.  The trip around the island by water is an absolutely beautiful sight, with the birds, goats, and buildings that are all perched on her rocky crags.

 It is always a fun day whether on St. Johns or cruising around the island.  The beauty is always breath taking and the places always interesting.  Just take the time to enjoy the pictures, and transport yourself there for an hour or so. ;o)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

MIT Scientists Develop a "Buzz Buster"

   Our Science dollars at work, researchers at MIT have been working with an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol, reducing the blood alcohol levels in drunk mice.  The idea of the enzymes is to create a "liver" inside of your stomach.   The idea of being able to pop a pill and drop your blood alcohol level quickly could be a significant advance in the prevention of drunken driving or even hang overs the next morning.

     Enzymes are bio/chemical catalysts that speed up the normal functions of your body.  In the case of these enzymes used for the "Buzz Buster", the break down alcohol.  There is a down side to the main enzyme Oxidase, in that it produces hydrogen peroxide.  The scientists have found by mixing it with another enzyme that decomposes hydrogen peroxide, the process sobers up the partying mice quickly.   The combination are called nanocapsules, and the scientists envision that they can be made into a pill you can take before leaving the bar, party, or other function where alcoholic beverages have been consumed and still be sober enough to keep out of trouble.

    The down side is that you pay good money to get your buzz, then you have to pay again to bring it to a halt.   It is a strange world that we live in, but I do feel that this will reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road after hours or sporting events and concerts if they are available.   It would be a "designated pill" instead of a "designated driver."   If this works, it would be a great alternative to the designated driver, because some times it is hard for the DD to not participate,   ;o)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rum Distillers in Jamaica Hit with New Problems

   The Jamaican Government has plans to slash millions of dollars in discretionary tax waiver that had been afforded to the rum industry and other manufacturing in Jamaica.     The rum producers can not survive on the molasses that is produced in Jamaica, they have to import some 60,000 tons to be able to produce the rum that is needed for export to blenders abroad.   This molasses has been coming into Jamaica on the waiver system, without which the distilleries will have to raise their prices or shut down.   With the current battle in the Caribbean over the subsidies to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands where they are already able to buy molasses with the cover over tax rebate, greatly reducing their costs of production.

     The issue hits the entire industrial sector of Jamaica.   There is a policy of not taxing goods imported from the "Caribbean Community ", but still raising taxes on their own countries manufacturing.   This is taking the companies ability to compete on a level playing field.   The high energy costs are another problem that the distillers are facing, for which there doesn't seem to be a solution for in the near future as well.

    Brian Pengelley, Jamaica Manufacturers Association said"The principle is that you cannot be putting duties on import products that are going to drive the efficiencies in the manufacturing sector or put plants at risk of closing."

   This is a classic case of the "domino effect", it is very interesting how one thing directly effects so many other parts of the economy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Windy and Chilly Sunday Morning

     Sunday is even worse than Saturday, Winds at 20 mph and 58 degree temperatures going to make for  cool running this morning on the scooter heading to the Rum Bar.  Fear not ,  Tuesday back in the high 70's.   ;o)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Chill is Down from the North

   Today is the coldest day down here this winter, heavy jackets and all to keep warm.   I know we are a bunch of wooses, but that is why we live in the tropics.    If I sound down, it's because this kind of weather is not what makes our visitors happy to be here.  I really like having happy people visiting me at the bar and enjoying themselves.  This is not the weather they came down for.

    We do need the rain like we had yesterday, but the cold, not so much.   I'll be looking forward to Monday when the winds will settle down and the temperatures warm back up.   This is the same cold front that brought all the snow to the North, now it is bringing highs in the 60's today and tomorrow for us.  In fact it is so cold down here even the internet is moving in slow motion.  

    For those down here that keep telling me it is nice compared to where they are from, places like North Dakota, Maine or Upstate New York, I agree, but for Key West it is just plain COLD.    Anyway, I share your pain and the reasons that you head south like the smart birds do, the North is great in June, July and August, but the rest of the time just head on down to the tropics and enjoy the warm.  ;o)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pampero Aniversario from Venezuela

   Pampero Aniversario Reserva Exclusiva is the pride and joy of Alejandro Hernandez, founder of Industrias Pampero, C.A. .   Founded in 1938, Pampero is credited with setting the standards that by which rum is produced in Venezuela.  Today it belongs to United Distillers, part of Diageo, the world's largest liquor holding company.

   First introduced in 1963 to celebrate the distillery's 25th anniversary this amber mahogany rum is aged between 4 and 6 years in bourbon and whiskey barrels, became an instant hit.   Upon opening the bottle and pouring it into a class, you immediately pick up the aromas of sweet candy, nuts, and vanilla.  The palate picks up molasses, oak and a buttery sweet taste that leads to a  smooth, warm and long lasting finish.

    Available in many many places, this award winning rum is a must have on your rum shelf.   Pampero Aniversario Reserva Exclusiva is one of the reasonably priced wonder rums that is available today.  ;o)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentine's Day: Why do we do this?

    Valentine's Day is a day we celebrate every February 14th, but why?  Hallmark is the beneficiary, but what are we really celebrating?    We are celebrating the execution of a man named Valentine during the rein of Claudius the Cruel, as Emperor of Rome.   Valentine, a priest in Rome would perform secret marriages for young lovers in a time that Claudius had ban all marriages and engagements in Rome.   Claudius felt that the attachment to family and wives would keep young men from joining the army that he needed to maintain control of Rome.    When Claudius discovered that Valentine was doing this, he was arrested and ordered to that he be put to death.     There is a legend that Valentine became friends with the jailer's daughter and left her a note on the day of his execution that was signed "From Your Valentine".   For his service to the church and the young lovers of Rome at the time he was named Saint Valentine posthumously.   Today on February 14th, we celebrate a day to share your love with your "Valentine".

Bahama Bob's Saint Valentine's Day Cocktail

·         1 ½ oz. Rhum Barbancourt Pango
·         ¾ oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
·         ¾ oz. Licor 43
·         ¾ oz. Pomegranate Liqueur
·         ¼ oz. Agave Nectar
·         1 Dash of Angostura Bitters
Place all of the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake until chilled.  Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with a strawberry or lime.
Spend some time with your special person today and enjoy a fun and loving cocktail.  ;o)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sloppy Joe's in Havana Reopens

Construction on Sloppy Joe's last September
     It was a half a century ago when the doors of Sloppy Joe's in Havana were closed, but today the visitors are able to again visit the famed bar that so many legendary customers use to frequent.   This is a part of a massive revitalization of Historic Old Havana by the Havana City Historian's Office.   They have brought back many blocks of buildings that were crumbling after years of little or no maintenance.   This revitalization is so great to see, the beautiful buildings and statues that make Old Havana's history so colorful are rising again to their previous stature.

     The re-opening is scheduled for this month bringing back the memories of the glitz and glamor of the original establishment.    It was a pleasure for me to tour the building last September during my visit to Havana and see all of the progress that had taken place.   The long bar was being reconstructed and much of the ornamental trim being restored.   Ernesto Iznaga is the manager of the reborn Sloppy Joe's feels that his primary job is "to restore it to how it was before".

     Originally founded by Jose Abeal Otero in 1918, this one time grocery store became one of the centerpieces of Old Havana.   Jose Rafa Malem, a Havana Barman has memories as a child having lunch and Coco Cola with his parents at the "long bar", some 59 feet long.    At night the bar transformed into a hangout for Americans and other tourists of the period.   Those days were noted for their gentile dressed men and women with long white gloves all there to bask in the Island culture and music. 

     It was not unusual to see the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Josie Russell ( Sloppy Joe from Key West), Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Baseballer Ted Williams, and even Babe Ruth enjoying the fun times at Sloppy Joe's.    If and when the U.S. ever lifts it's embargo, I would not be surprised to see the likes of many current celebrities visiting Sloppy Joe's again.

   Here in Key West, there is interest in the re-opening because of the connection between Sloppy Joe's in Key West celebrating 75 Years and Sloppy Joe's Havana for which Josie Russell named his bar at the urging of his friend Ernest Hemingway.    I'm hoping to be able to revisit Havana again soon and be able to see first hand the finished product that I was lucky enough to visit during construction last September.  ;o)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fat Tuesday: Where Does it Come From?

Happy "Fat Tuesday"


Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday," has grown in popularity in recent years as a raucous, sometimes hedonistic event. But its roots lie in the Christian calendar, as the "last hurrah" before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. That's why the enormous party in New Orleans, for example, ends abruptly at midnight on Tuesday, with battalions of street sweepers pushing the crowds out of the French Quarter towards home.

What is less known about Mardi Gras is its relation to the Christmas season, through the ordinary-time interlude known in many Catholic cultures as Carnival. (Ordinary time, in the Christian calendar, refers to the normal "ordering" of time outside of the Advent/Christmas or Lent/Easter seasons.

Eventually the French in New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras with masked balls and parties, until the Spanish government took over in the mid-1700s and banned the celebrations. The ban continued even after the U.S. government acquired the land but the celebrations resumed in 1827. The official colors of Mardi Gras, with their roots in Catholicism, were chosen 10 years later: purple, a symbol of justice; green, representing faith; and gold, to signify power.

I found it very interesting reading and I hope you take the time to go through the entire article, it sheds a lot of light on the celebration.   I find it very interesting that one of the most raucous party's in the world has its roots in the Catholic Religion.
   Any way, have a great Fat Tuesday and celebrate it in your own fun way.  ;o)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Many States Could Lose Highway Funds for Lax Drunk Driving Enforcerment

Nineteen states were already subject to the penalty before this year, and 14 more are having funds held in reserve while the Federal Highway Administration finishes its assessment of their laws.
                     Penalized states would have to spend federal funds on anti-drunken
                     driving programs, safety improvements

·   Nineteen states faced penalty before this year
·   Safety advocates say it's too easy for states to shift funding between construction and safety budgets

WASHINGTON – Two-thirds of the states could be restricted in how they spend some of their federal highway funds this year because they haven't complied with mandates to combat drunken driving.
A combined $539 million would have to be spent on anti-drunken-driving programs or highway safety improvements instead of on general road and bridge construction in those states.
That's the penalty for not having sufficient laws to restrict open alcohol containers in vehicles or to crack down on repeat drunken-driving offenders.
Nineteen states were already subject to the penalty before this year, and 14 more are having funds held in reserve while the Federal Highway Administration finishes its assessment of their laws.

Jack Basso, chief operating officer of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, said it appears that the federal government has tightened its application of the rules.
"Probably they are within their authority," Basso said. "The question is, is it really achieving the spirit of the law?"
Federal officials say they had to review states' drunken-driving laws after Congress updated federal highway programs last year, including making changes to some of the compliance requirements. Some states fell short because the federal requirements had changed, while others had reworked their own laws without notifying the federal government as required.
    This is an important issue, because the use of alcoholic beverages is one thing that I enjoy, but being responsible in their use is something that I am passionate about.    I feel like the Florida Keys with all of the bars and venues to enjoy a cocktail, wine or beer does a very good job of keeping the drunk drivers  off of the street.   There are two ways for this to work, law enforcement and drives to promote the personal responsibility of  individuals and friends of individuals that tend to drink to much, then slide behind the wheel.   The individual responsibility method is always the best, but if you don't heed the warnings, you could easily loose more that the binge was worth.   Please Drink Responsibly, and help your friends do so also.  I hate to see my friends faces on the Sheriffs blog page for DUI or even worse, on the Obituary page.   ;o)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter has Arrived in Key West

     The return of the flocks of Pelicans is one of the real indicators that winter has arrived down here in Key West.   These migratory birds are a sure way for us to know it has gotten cold up north.
These birds grace our docks until spring when they start the return to the more northern homes.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Papa's Pilar Rum

   Inspired by the life and ways of Ernest Hemingway, "Papa's Pilar Rum" is a bold and adventuresome rum.  This solera aged and blended rum brings together the rums of the Caribbean, Florida and Central America to give you a unique flavor of rum unlike any other.   Like the label says "Never a Spectator", you need to experience the rum first hand.   The rum is first aged in French Oak, then Port Wine Casks, followed by American Oak Bourbon Barrels and finally in Spanish Wine Casks.  This unique solera aging and blending brings together the robust and unique flavors of the rum.   It is an adventure in your mouth.  

     The Rum is available in two styles, Pilar Dark and Pilar Blonde.  The Dark Pilar Has a very complex aromas of vanilla, honey, spices, and wine.  It has buttery sweet and earthy flavors that coat the entire mouth with notes of spice, bourbon, and fruitiness.   The Finish is  long lasting and warm with lingering honey vanilla tastes.  The Pilar Blonde is more subtle on the nose, but you pickup a bit of wood and fruitiness.  The taste has a more subtle flavors as you would expect, but still notes of fruit and vanilla.   Like the Dark Pilar, the finish is long lasting, but more subtle as well.   Blonde is  bottled at 84 and Dark is bottled at 86 proof, giving them the bit of roughness associated with a overproof seagoing rum.

    Like Pilar the rum is ready for adventure and the adventurous mixologist.  The Blonde Pilar is a very nice sipping rum that will be suited well to premium cocktails as is the Dark Pilar.   The name is well suited to the flavors of the rums and is a welcome addition to my personal collection.  

    The bottle is shaped like a World War II canteen, fitting to the man and the rum, soon to be available in stores and at better bars.  These are had selected rums that are blended in the original spirit of rum.  You need to experience the fine qualities of both of Papa Hemingway's rums for the high seas.   ;o)


Friday, February 8, 2013

Mangroves: The Ecosystem

     Down in the Florida Keys the most prevalent of the mangroves are the Red Mangrove.  These are the ones that have their own exposed roots that stabilize and anchor the plant.   In addition to helping stabilize the plant, they collect soil around the roots that eventually form a small key to be born.  The new mangroves begin to grow primarily at the waters edge and as the sands and other soils collect around the root system the land begins to expand into the water. 

     Mangroves cannot take a freeze, that will kill them faster than anything, so down here in the tropical keys, the mangroves grow rather large.  The uninhabited keys north of the lower keys are prime growing area for the mangroves.   On these tiny islets, the can grow to some rather large heights.   For the most part the mangroves are untouched by people out here in waters outside of the larger keys, this is allowing them to virtually be the entire island.   There are many of the tiny keys that are made up of only mangrove, and the sandy material the the storms have washed into the roots.

    You will see many young mangroves popping up just off of the shore, and these are the ones as they grow that will enlarge the mangrove key that the previous plants have built.   The mangroves also drop roots down from the branches as they grow larger.  This is to stabilize the plant as it gets bigger.   As you paddle or drift through the channels in these mangrove keys you will see this all taking place.

     The mangroves are perfect for bird life in the area as well.  The Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Kingfishers, Ospreys and Eagles call these mangroves home.  They are well protected from predators that raid the nests like Raccoons by nesting out in the mangroves.     The ecosystem also includes to the water under the plants as well, many species of fish make their home in the waters under the mangroves.  They utilize the shade and bask in the relative coolness of the waters.   The birds that live around the mangroves are primarily fish eating birds, so the heavy fish population in the vicinity is a real bonus for the birds as well.

     There are a few other types of mangrove found in this area like the White Mangrove.   This species can be noted by a more yellowish green leaf and the distinctive white flowers.   The mangroves are protected in the area and can only be trimmed or removes by permit and for a very good reason.

   Even as the older mangroves die out, they leave a beautiful monument to their passing.  The sea and sun bleached trunks stand out as you pass by these magnificent islands of plants.  ;o)