It doesn’t take long to pick up on an island’s signature drink. A postcard here, an invitation there, a suggestion at the behest of a total stranger…
“Would you like a sex on the beach?” is one way to get the conversation started. I’m never sure whether to feel uncomfortable about the unwarranted sexual overtures or whether the grammatical injuries inflicted upon the sentence offend me more.
“Would you like a painkiller?” on the other hand lives on much more neutral territory. Sentence makes sense; harassment absent. But it does leave me with the strange sensation I must be wandering around with a severed limb ready to detach at any moment. Or perhaps I should be a little gentler on myself. The odd paracetamol wouldn’t be the end of the world.
As I sipped my first one, a surprisingly strong mix of sweet Baileys-like fluid topped up with zesty citrus and an unexpected flourish of nutmeg, a deep-tanned woman moored her boat and strode past me, pausing only to tell me this:
“The real ones aren’t from here,” she said with a lusciously stereotypical flick of her long blonde hair. “They come from Soggy Dollar on Jost van Dyke Island.”
“We usually like it there,” she went on “but they don’t have enough jetties for our boats.”
Such naval concerns are strong in the BVI, with Tortola known for its sailing coves and the island’s main rum base having staunch links to the old British Navy. Did you know, for example, that from 1655 onwards crew had rum as a daily part of rations ( with two tots before battle) right up until the year 1970? No? Neither did I. But apparently such rum was issued by the Purser and over time this became known as “Pusser’s Rum.” That’s what Pusser’s the brand say, anyway, whenever you arch an eyebrow at them at the sound of their name.
Perhaps by coincidence, the painkiller came in to existence just as the real Purser’s Rum came to an end and naval officers lost their daily tipple on what became known as Black Tot Day.
Better news for the rest of us, I’d say.
But, in case you’re itching to try this out at home, have a slice of sunshine, naval history and nutmeg all in one glass. Here followeth the recipe!
2 lots Pusser’s Rum
4 lots Pineapple Juice
1 lot Orange Juice
1 lot cream of coconut
Garnish with sliced orange, cherries and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg.
Then drink up, sit back and think of England…or A sex on the beach if you must.
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com