The Goombay Smash

   I first tried a Goombay Smash in 1993 on my first trip to the Bahamas.  I had sailed to Bimini with a bunch of friends from medical school.  We celebrated the crossing at alittle local bar where back in the day, Ernest Hemmingway used to go get loaded after shark fishing all day.  The waitress listed the Goombay Smash as one of perhaps a half dozen beverages on their limited menu.  We thought the name sounded funny, so that was pretty much what we drank that night.  Just what the hell is a Goombay anyway?  Leave the Bahama Mamas for the tourists on the cruise ships in Nassau.  If you want a taste of a REAL island cocktail...and sound like you've been here for more than an afternoon's stop, order a Goombay Smash.

   Interestingly enough, the Goombay Smash was invented by an elderly teetotaler--Miss Emily, proprietor of The Blue Bee bar in Green Turtle Cay.  We visited her watering hole only to find that Miss Emily has long since passed on.  Her photo now sits above the bar, looking down upon her grandchildren who run the place.  Miss Emily's "official" recipie is a secret.  When asked the bartender told me that it contains "rum, more rum, pineapple and coconut, and maybe some other stuff"   This followed by some unintelligible mumbling.

   We are discovering that there are alot of bars throughout the Caribbean who make some variation of a Pina Colada, call it their special house drink, and fame soon spreads.  In the British Virgins Islands, it is the Painkiller, in Nevis, the Killer Bee.  Never underestimate the ability of these fruit juices to mask the taste of enormous quantities of alcohol.  And never underestimate the thirst of a tourist from up north on a tropical holiday.

   Now the problem with a secret recipie is that it lends itself to being copied by various imposters, and this has indeed happened throughout the Bahamas.  While in West End, I noted my Goombay Smash being created with two kinds of rum (dark, and coconut) and an unlabelled pitcher of fruit juice.  Reliable sources tell me that  apricot brandy are usually included.  Other miscellaneous additions could perhaps include orange juice, creme de banana, or grenadine, depending on who you ask.  The Lonely Planet Guide insists that 151 proof rum is used.

  The only way to know for sure what a Goombay Smash tastes like is to travel to the Island of Green Turtle Cay.  Walk down along the waterfront from the public docks and turn right at the corner.  The Blue Bee Bar sits just across the street from the basketball court.  Like so many sailor bars, this one is wallpapered in cards, small bills, and graffiti of the cruisers who have visited in the past.  By the time you get there on a hot, tropical day, a Goombay Smash should really hit the spot.  If you take a liking to it, a sign above the bar proclaims that more Goombay Smashes can be purchased in gallon jugs.  The descendants of Miss Emily will be glad to set you up.

   But just be careful about ordering that second one.  "Goombay", as it turns out, is a type of native drum music.  The real magic of the Goombay Smash is that you can really feel your head pounding just like a Goombay drum the next morning. 



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