Tag Archives: Eat & Drink

Old San Juan El Convento

Where to Eat in Old San Juan

 

Puerto Rico’s restaurant scene varies from street food to celebrity chef-owned establishments where you can spend hours dining on the tasting menu. There are eateries on every corner which makes it easy to find a place when hunger strikes. When you’re on the go and wandering the blue cobblestone streets, stop off and grab a bite at these favorite spots in Old San Juan.

Singular

Something about this place makes it feel like your neighborhood haunt, it might be the staff or the soft lighting and the long wooden bar where locals and visitors convene. Certainly, the staff is engaging and knowledgeable offering up details about the menu options and the craft cocktails. And, you can’t beat the location. Singular is right outside the walls of Hotel El Convento on the main drag through Old San Juan. You’ll find a modern innovative menu with some Puerto Rican influences where croquetas and deserts are house-made. Try the pulled pork tacos topped with mango salsa and one of the house mojitos; the Honolulu Hibiscus mojito is a favorite. The place also wins for beer and burgers. A big draw is the bevy of craft beers from all over the world, including Puerto Rico. And burgers come bacon wrapped with swiss or made from black beans for the vegetarian. Seating varies from the bar stools to cozy tables inside and in the evening the crowd spills outdoors to dine on large wooden patio tables. This welcoming tavern-style restaurant is located at 101 Calle del Cristo.

Old San Juan Singular

Locals and visitors gravitate to Singular, a restaurant, and bar on Calle Del Cristo for craft beers and creative cocktails. Photo: Debbie Snow

Stuffed Avocado

Maybe it all began with the poke bowl, ubiquitous in Hawaiian cuisine, but, today’s trend of bowl meals is here to stay and thanks to social media the word is spreading. Sure, the versions and ingredients vary but the concept is the same–a meal in a bowl. The bowl you’ll find in Old San Juan starts with avocado. At Stuffed Avocado Shop each bowl is set up with a fresh avocado as the base, from there you’ll select rice or veggies, a protein where options include fish, chicken, beef, and roasted pulled pork, a staple in Puerto Rico. Then you’ll select the sauce and the layers of topping including fruit and vegetables. Can’t decide on the build-your-own method then select one of the signature dishes like Mango Tuna or Chipotle Chicken? You could even go vegan and pile the bowl with vegetables. The place is easy to find, just look for the avocado right off Calle Cristo at 209 Calle de San Francisco. The staff is friendly and if you chose to hang inside the small space is relaxed and comfortable. It’s a popular lunch spot with visitors and locals who grab a take-out to carry back to the office. The group has three spots in Puerto Rico; Old San Juan, Miramar, and Guaynabo, which also serves breakfast. Avocado toast and coffee? And, if you want more than avocado in your bowl, you can order avocado flip-flops, bags, and shirts at: https://stuffedavocadoshop.com/

Stuffed Avocado San Juan

The Stuffed Avocado is the place for a Puerto Rican version of the poke bowl–it all starts with fresh avocado. Photo: Debbie Snow

Deaverdura

When you are craving local flavors, head to this popular spot for cocina criolla. Early in the morning, the pots come out to fill every burner on the stove with beans, stews, rice, and plantains. An indication you’re in the right spot is the line of hungry patrons forming outside the door before noon. Locals and those in the know are chatting up what they ate last time and what appears new on the chalkboard menu posted near the entrance. A big hit on the menu is the Puerto Rican sampler for two or more people. A wooden platter is piled high with everything from tostones to pulled pork and arroz con gandules, the Puerto Rican version of rice and beans that’s made with pigeon peas and flavored with sofrito. Order a more manageable entree of roasted pork with vegetables and sides, the fresh ceviche, or any of the family-style stews and soups. Located right in the middle of Old San Juan at Calle Sol 200 at the corner of Calle De La Cruz.

Deaverdura Caribbean Restaurant Old San Juan

Deaverdura feels like a family home in Puerto Rico with black and white tile floors and heavy wooden tables and pots boiling on the stove. Photo: Debbie Snow

Anita La Mamma del Gelato

It’s hard to pass by this relative newcomer to Old San Juan without stopping for a scoop of ice cream, a milkshake, or just a coffee. This boutique ice cream shop got its start 20 years ago in a small Mediterranean town where Mama Anita and her son started the biz with a small cart at the weekly market. Today, they are a chain with shops in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, and Barcelona. Here in Old San Juan the place is often busy particularly on weekend evenings when couples stop in to taste the new flavors before making the final decision. All of the flavors are handmade on-site and reflect the trends and tastes of the locale. The shop pays homage to holidays and seasons with limited editions of special blends: Spicy Pumpkin for Halloween, in summer there’s Peach & Love, and, even a doggie gelato offered on National Dog Day. Ice cream, sorbets, gelato, and yogurt come with options of organic, sugar-free, soy-based, or real cream. Toppings include fresh fruit, homemade jams, premium chocolate, and whatever you might have a craving for. New flavors pop up daily. Visit them at 65 Calle de la Fortaleza.

Anita's Ice Cream Old San Juan

Anita’s ice cream selection varies with holidays and seasons. A sample taste is always a good place to start. Photo: Debbie Snow

Cafetería Mallorca

You won’t meet a Puerto Rican who doesn’t have their preferred spot for a breakfast Mallorca–a buttered sweet roll with ham and cheese warmed on the grill until edges are crispy and topped with powdered sugar. Just about every restaurant serving breakfast has Mallorca on the menu. The oldest in town is Cafetería Mallorca, a throwback to the 1950s with vinyl seating, a long counter where you’ll meet local patrons, and plenty of tables to accommodate the morning rush when they open at 7:00 a.m. A diner’s menu includes other breakfast specialties, sandwiches, and comida criolla. You’ll find the red awning with block red letters above noting its namesake on the corner at 300 Calle de San Francisco amid the old city. An alternative and if you happen to be in the north end of town is Café Don Ruiz. Here, you can watch them roast coffee beans in the store and the onsite museum takes you back in time to the beginning of the coffee trade and production on the island. The aroma of roasting beans and sweet bakery goods will guide you.

Cafe Don Ruiz Mallorca in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s favorite breakfast is a Mallorca and café con leche at Cafetería Mallorca or here at Café Don Ruiz. Photo: Debbie Snow

Cayman Islands Chefs Cookout

Caribbean Food Festivals in 2023

 

There’s no better place than the Caribbean to celebrate food. The scenery is idyllic, and the culture is diverse and fascinating leading to a culinary explosion of flavors from Spain, India, Africa, Asia, and Britain. Combine the local culinary scene with a host of international chefs and you’ve got an amazing food fiesta.

More events are being announced daily. Keep checking with us for updates.

Cayman Cookout Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

January 12-16, 2023

After a two-year hiatus the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will once again host the long weekend event that got its start in 2008. Celebrity Chef Eric Ripert will be at the helm presenting a variety of events and experiences. The roster of top chefs, wine, and spirit experts invited include Andrew Zimmern, Tom Colicchio, Jennifer Carroll, Adrienne Cheatham, Aldo Sohm, Antonio Bachour, Daniel Boulud, Dominique Crenn, Emeril Lagasse, José Andrés, Kristen Kish. Back in the line-up are the signature events as well as a series of lunches and dinners paired with spirits, a focus of this year’s festivities. Mingle with chefs at Beach Bash, Barefoot BBQ, and Rum and Robusto, and sign up for demonstrations and tastings.

For more information: www.caymancookout.com Hotel packages start at $1,724 per night for two and include accommodations, a breakfast buffet, and tickets to signature Cookout events and parties. www.ritzcarlton.com

Grand Cayman Cookout

Chefs gather beachside during the 2021 event beachside. Join in this January and meet the talented teams. Photo: Cayman Cookout

Cashew Festival and Agriculture Show Crooked Tree Village, Belize

May 11-12, 2023

Every year this small village in the interior of the country hosts the Cashew Festival where farmers and artisans showcase these drupes in various forms. Just like the almond and pistachio, the cashew is classified not as a nut but as a drupe because of its fleshy outside and shell covering the seed inside. Call it a nut if you want. Here, you can try cashew wine, cashew jelly, and pastries and pies filled with cashews. You’ll see how local chefs use cashews in cooking demonstrations, and cashew roasting and learn how the farmers grow and harvest this highly regarded local crop. To find out more: https://www.travelbelize.org/event/cashew-festival-agricultural-show/

Belize Crooked Tree Village Cashew Festival

Mounds of unroasted cashews after the annual harvest in Belize. The festival sells roasted cashews that are ready to eat. Photo: Belize Tourism Board

Grenada Chocolate Festival Grenada

May 17-21, 2023

Grenada, known as the spice island, is also home to cocoa plantations and is quickly becoming the center of chocolate production in the Caribbean. With five chocolate tree-to-bar companies making incredible Grenadian chocolate, you’ll want to load up on bars to take home. At this event, chocolate lovers will follow the journey of cacao growing, to roasting and into bars. There will be tastings, journeys, stories, and hands-on opportunities to make your own. For more information: https://www.grenadachocolatefest.com/

Grenada Chocolate Festival

A chocolate lovers dinner from Grenada Chocolate Festival in 2022. Lunches, dinners, and tastings take place during the week-long festival in May. Photo: Grenada Chocolate Festival/Flickr

Pineapple Festival Gregory Town, Eleuthera Bahamas

June 2-3, 2023

Celebrating the sweetest pineapple in the world, Eleuthera will host its annual homage to the syrupy fruit. There will be pineapple eating competitions, cooking demos and recipe contests, music, games, and of course a Junkanoo parade. The festival pays tribute to the farmers who work to grow and harvest these juicy fruits year after year. Try local food made with pineapple and pineapple deserts, plait the pineapple pole, tour the pineapple farms and check out local crafts. For details: https://www.bahamas.com/events/pineapple-festival

North Eleuthera Pineapple Festival

Some say the pineapples grown in Eleuthera are the sweetest in the world. Find out for yourself at the Pineapple Festival this May. Photo: Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

Mango Cocktails St. Lucia

Mango Cocktails

 

They may be sugary sweet, sticky, and messy but mangoes make the best tropical cocktail. And, mangoes are plentiful in the Caribbean, there are over 100 varieties growing in the region. Cocktail lovers might want a drink with only a hint of mango blended with other tropical fruit while others gravitate to the full-on lush flavor of mango puree riddled with alcohol and a garnish. Here are three spots you’ll want to relax beachside with a tasty mango drink in hand.

Mango Madness Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

You could certainly have mango cocktails delivered to your open-walled sanctuary and sip them from your private pool with unobstructed views of the Pitons at this one-of-a-kind resort. To change things up head down to Anse Mamin Beach to take in the sea and sand with a mango drink in hand. The Jungle Grill and Bar serves a variety of tropical burgers and drinks at picnic benches where you can wiggle your toes in the sand. Have a cocktail or two under the shade of the treed canopy and walk the plantation where fruit trees and tropical flowers grow among the old sugar mill. To round out the day, make your way to the sea for a swim followed by a long afternoon nap along the shoreline.

St. Lucia Jade Mountain Mango Madness

This signature cocktail is the star of the Mango Madness festival each summer where guests participate in interactive mango cooking classes, mixology lessons and farm tours. Photo: Jade Mountain

Created for the annual Mango Madness Festival each June, this mango drink is made with 1.5 ounces of locally distilled Bounty Rum, 3 ounces of fresh mango puree, 1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon of simple syrup and a dash of bitters. The rum, mango puree, lime juice, syrup and bitters are added to a shaker. After vigorous agitation, it’s served in a large tumbler over ice with a fresh slice of mango.

Spicy Island Punch Carlisle Bay, Antigua

It’s hard to pass up the opportunity to have this drink in a lounge chair on the crescent of café au lait colored sand of Carlisle Bay Beach. The beachside service is top-notch here and a big part of the ambiance as chaises are scattered in the sand beneath the palms just steps from the sea. You can stake out your spot and order breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and have mango cocktails whenever the notion arises. In the evening head to Indigo on the Beach, the seaside restaurant and bar overlooking the water and try another version of a mango cocktail, they have several.

Antigua Spicy Island Punch

Carlisle Bay delivers impeccable luxury with an opportunity to immerse in a laid-back Caribbean moment. Mango cocktails are served throughout the resort, from the lobby to your suite. Photo: Carlisle Bay

This drink is made with 3 ounces of English Harbor Rum that is aged on Antigua, 2.5 ounces of mango puree, 2 ounces of pineapple juice, 1 ounce of ginger syrup and the juice of one lime. All of the ingredients are poured in a cocktail shaker with ice, shaken and served in a hurricane glass with a pineapple wedge garnish.

Nevisian Margarita Four Seasons, Nevis

The choices are endless of where you might settle in for a cocktail at the Four Seasons. When the day heats up you’ll want to order this cocktail just steps from the sea. After a long stroll along the four miles of golden sand of Pinneys Beach a lounge chair awaits. Or better yet reserve a private cabana, poolside or beachside and raise the flag for service. In the evening follow the path down the beach to Mango and 101 Rums Bar for sunset and a rum tasting session. 101 Rums Bar now has more than 120 fine-aged rums as well as a long list of cocktail options.

Four Seasons Nevis Spicy Margarita

With an herb garden on property the Four Season’s mixologist can handpick herbs and spices for her cocktails like cilantro for this Nevisian Margarita. Photo: Kendie Williams

Award-winning mixologist Kendie Williams created this tasty signature fusion. She uses locally sourced fruits and spices and whips up a blend of homemade mango puree for her concoctions. This specialty uses 2 ounces of Patron Añejo, 1 ounce of mango puree, 1 ounce of lime juice, 2 slices of jalapeño and 3 sprigs of cilantro. The cocktail begins with two slices of jalapeño along with cilantro added to a shaker and muddled to extract the flavors. The lime juice, Patron Añejo, mango puree are added along with ice. After shaking, the mixture is strained and poured over ice in a glass rimmed with lemon and salt. Another slice of jalapeño is used for garnish.

Kingston Jamaica Food And Drink Festival Vintage

Culinary Getaways in the Caribbean

 

Combine your love of good food and travel at a delicious gastronomic event in one of these three Caribbean islands. Join award-winning chefs in Aruba, top locals chefs in Jamaica and Michelin-starred French chefs in St. Barth for specially prepared menus, wine pairings and a twist of island flair.

Aruba

Boston’s award-winning chefs Christopher Coombs and Adrienne Wright will be at Divi Aruba to offer guests a first-class dining experience for two nights October 25 and 26, 2019. Rates start at $199 per person and include the cooking demonstration and room for one night. Chef Coombs has become one of Boston’s top chefs and restaurateurs overseeing culinary teams at his Boston Urban Hospitality restaurants: Deuxave, Boston Chops and dbar. Executive chef Adrienne Wright works closely with Coombs at each location. The chefs will create an Aruban inspired 4-course dinner with 2 amuses and wine pairing. Guests will dine on items such as yellowtail and hamachi crudo, spiced Long Island duck breast and black quinoa with native beans and green papaya.

Aruba Divi

The all-inclusive Divi Aruba sits on beautiful Druif Beach, with a shopping arcade and the Alhambra Casino nearby. Photo: Divi Aruba

Jamaica

Now in its fifth year the Jamaica Food & Drink Festival takes place in Kingston from October 26 to November 3, 2019. During the 10-day event, Jamaica’s cultural capital invites over 50 of the island’s best chefs along with wine and spirit experts to tantalize guests with Jamaican culinary legacies. Seven events featuring a variety of outlets and restaurants will offer delectable local cuisines. For a stay at a peaceful mountain hideaway, those attending the event can book rooms at Strawberry Hill. This 26-acre hillside retreat overlooks Kingston and the Blue Mountains is offering 20% off the best rate during the festival. Visit: https://www.strawberryhillhotel.com/

Strawberry Hill Jamaica

From the veranda, the cool crisp air at 3,100 feet above sea level makes Strawberry Hill a refreshing getaway. Photo: Strawberry Hill

St. Barth

The Christopher, sits on Pointe Milou with a view of St. Jean, providing one of the best places to watch the sunset on St. Barth. The new Christo restaurant focuses on organic meat and farm- fresh vegetables where Chef Nicolas Tissier positions ingredients at the heart of his nouvelle cuisine. The hotel will host visiting chefs during the Sixth Annual St. Barth Gourmet Festival.  The festival’s patron chef, Arnaud Faye, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) and two-star chef at Château de la Chèvre d’Or in Eze will be on island for the event November 6 to 10, 2019. Seven top French chefs, each working at a restaurant and creating special multi-course meals during the festival will join him.

St Bart The Christopher

Mango Beach Club offers casual poolside fare overlooking the bay. Villas at the 5-star Christopher offer views of the Caribbean Sea and nearby islands. Photo: The Christopher

Miami Beach Time Out Market

The Best Food Halls

 

Can’t decide where to go for dinner with your group? Some want sushi, others just a burger while one is craving pizza. At these innovative food halls, top chefs come together under one roof where the social setting is centered on food. This curated concept with a communal atmosphere offers a selection of eateries ideal for the indecisive foodie and an opportunity to sample culinary delights from around the globe. Patrons can try new foods, taste, and share and wander around to put together the ideal meal.

Time Out Market, Miami

The 50-year-old media company created its first food hall location in Portugal in 2014 bringing together Lisbon’s finest eateries under one roof. Their latest venue to open is in the heart of South Beach. Opened May 2019, this curated food hall offers 17 kitchens, three bars and a demo cooking station where visiting chefs spend three months in residency crafting their latest dishes. Cuisines vary from tacos, vegan and sushi. Of course, there is Cuban fare, burgers and a smoked meat outlet and something for the sweet tooth. Diners eat at large wooden community tables where the energy is convivial. In keeping with the heritage of Time Out, visitors will find a media wall with the best things to do in the city including events, exhibitions and concerts.

Miami Beach Time Out Market

Top mixologists at Time Out Market in South Beach serve up 15 specially crafted concoctions, along with local beer on tap and a selection of 25 wines. Photo: DeepSleep Studio

El Mercado de Paseo Caribe, Puerto Rico

Ideally located between Condado and Old San Juan, El Mercado is part art gallery, gourmet food market and social hall. Murals depicting men and women working in agricultural settings as well as street venues hang high over the bar that sits in the heart of the hall. Rotating art features local artists, where works portray daily life on the island. Weekends bring in live entertainment, jazz concerts and the popular Friday night Sunset Rhythms. Patrons can experience cuisine from some of the best chefs on the island with a selection from seafood, Italian, and Asian. Begin the day with coffee from Alto Grande Caffé Bar and end with a nightcap at Cóctel Bar. The hall is open every day from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m. with seating indoor and alfresco.

Puerto Rico Paseo Caribe El Mercado

Owner of Napolitana in front of her bar and restaurant where she features authentic Neapolitan style pizza, calzone, lasagna and antipasto and selection of Italian wines. Photo: El Mercado

The Street, A Michael Mina Social House, Honolulu

They call The Street a social house for good reason. The gathering space is conducive to conversation and sharing of food from a low-key lunch to a late night snack. Like Mina’s childhood, the table becomes the heart of family, friends and conversation. Menus are driven by individual chefs who showcase their passion for food. Items are foods they love to eat and cook for others. Here you’ll find the 11 restaurant concepts offering international fare from smoked barbecue, kimchee, poke and ramen. Expect to find traditional Hawaiian plate, an island twist on burgers and the latest, a Mexican fusion restaurant that incorporates local seafood and Island produce; there’s even a Spam quesadilla. Stop by for a smoothie, Mai Tai, craft beer or shave ice. The venue is open from 7 a.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Honolulu Hawaii The Street

Set in the heart of Waikiki, patrons gather for casual meals and festive celebrations at Michael Mina’s The Street. Guests embark on a culinary journey of international flavors. Photo: The MINA Group

 

Mojito by the beach

3 Refreshing Mojito Recipes

 

The Mojito is the ideal summer cocktail, not too sweet, not too strong, chilled and served over ice in a highball glass with fresh garnishes. In honor of National Mojito Day, we found three options to ring in the summer. Try the recipes at home or head to one of the resorts and let the bartender do his job.

Basil Mojito Occidental at Xcaret Destination

Basil Mojito

Try the refreshing Basil Mojito at one of the 12 bars in the Occidental at Xcaret in Riviera Maya. The resort features a meandering river and beach cove. Photo: Occidental at Xcaret

Ingredients:

* 5 fresh basil leaves

* 4 peeled cucumber slices (remove all seeds)

* 2 oz white rum

* 1.5 oz natural syrup

* 1 can of mineral water

* 0.5 oz of lemon juice

 

Instructions:

In a shaker mash the basil leaves with the cucumber slices. Add the lemon juice into the cucumber basil mixture and shake well. Add a white rum of your choice and natural syrup to the mixture. Shake well! Complete the cocktail with mineral water. Pour the cocktail into a serving glass of your choice and decorate with a slice of cucumber, lemon and basil leaves.

 

Strawberry-Lime Mojito Occidental Cozumel

Strawberry Lime Mojito

Sip the Strawberry-Lime Mojito at the Occidental Cozumel. With four bars, from beach to lobby, there’s always a mojito around the corner. Photo: Occidental Cozumel

Ingredients:

* 2 strawberries

* 3 mint leaves

* 1 lime

* 1 oz white rum

* Crushed ice

* Club soda

* 1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions:

Place sugar, mint and strawberries into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the ingredients together. In a serving glass filled with ice add rum, club soda and strawberry/mint/sugar mixture. Stir and enjoy!

 

Watermelon Mojito Allegro Cozumel

Watermelon Mojito

Enjoy the Watermelon Mojito at the All-inclusive Allegro Cozumel. Head to the beach bar, which sits between the pool and sand, for a relaxing afternoon and great views. Photo: Allegro Cozumel

Ingredients:

* 5 large fresh mint leaves, coarsely torn by hand

* 1 thick slice of fresh watermelon

* 2 oz light rum, such as Bacardi

* Dash of simple syrup

* 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (half a lime)

* Piece of watermelon, for serving

 

Instructions:

Use a muddler to mash the mint leaves in a sturdy cup. Remove all seeds from the watermelon puree. Mix the mashed mint leaves with the puréed watermelon, rum, simple syrup, and lime juice. Stir well and serve over ice. Garnish your glass with watermelon for an added twist.

Zemi Beach Anguilla

The Caribbean’s Best Rum Bars

 

Move over fruity rum drinks. The Caribbean’s favorite spirit has caught the attention of connoisseurs. These enlightened imbibers shun blenders and fruit garnishes in favor of snifters, and sample small-batch rums and artisanal blends that need no enhancements beyond a comfortable atmosphere. Hoteliers have taken note, and a new breed of rum bars is cropping up across the Caribbean. Here are five of the best places to savor the spirits with island style.

The Cane Bar at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

Much more than a beach bar, The Cane Bar offers a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere where there are no distractions to take away from the pleasures of sampling premium rums. Located inside the resort’s Great House, the room features a subdued white and pale charcoal design palette. Oversized chairs sit around tables and living room style arrangements provide group settings and the sleek white bar offers alternative seating. Prized artworks hangs on the walls, and the shelves behind the bar are lined with an extensive selection of expertly chosen local and international rums. With many choices on hand there is a professional rummelier to help with your selection. When hunger strikes, a Japanese-inspired menu includes a selection of fresh- catch sashimi and a variety of rolls. Signature dishes include the Caribe Roll, which is wrapped in mango, and the Cane Bar Roll with spicy stone crab and avocado. The bar is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and you’ll want to leave your beach togs back in the room and dress “smart casual” for the evening.

St Lucia Rum Bar

Subdued colors lend a sophisticated ambiance to The Cane Bar at St. Lucia’s Sugar Beach resort, where vintage and small-batch rums are featured. Photo: Sugar Beach

Rhum Room at Zemi Beach House, Anguilla

One of the newest and now most popular boutique resorts in the Caribbean boasts Anguilla’s first rum bar. The design of the Rhum Room at Zemi blends modern accents with classic Caribbean architectural details to create a sophisticated yet beach-ready vibe. This setting is enhanced by the natural backdrop of Shoal Bay East, which has been called one of the world’s best beaches. The bar features over 100 small-batch, single-estate rums selected to showcase the breadth and diversity of the Caribbean’s distilling traditions. Guests can delve into the world of rum by sampling the curated Rhum Flight, which includes a selection of rums assembled by the house rummelier. The inventory includes bottles of Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, of which only 800 bottles are available to the public worldwide. Also in the collection is Clément Cuvée Homère, the highest rated vintage rum in the past 15 years, and the recently released premium Brugal Papá Andrés, which is a handcrafted blend created by master blender Maestros Roneros.

Anguilla Rum

The Rhum Room at Anguilla’s Zemi Beach House puts a sophisticated spin on the classic Caribbean club motif. The bar is stocked with a collection of super-premium rums. Photo: Dylan Cross/Zemi Beach

Rum Bar at Cooper Island Beach Club, BVI

You wouldn’t expect to find a well stocked rum bar to be on a tiny island in the British Virgin Islands. With just nine rooms set around a remote bay, the Cooper Island Beach Club caters to those wanting to get away from it all. Day sailors will sometimes stop in for lunch or dinner at the club’s restaurant as part of an island- hopping itinerary. In 2015, mariners found another reason to stop when Cooper Island added the Rum Bar and then a microbrewery. Patrons can sit beachside on wooden benches made from recycled teak and the reclaimed wood of boats, or hang at the bar for some serious tastings. The bar boasts the largest collection of rums in the Virgin Islands, with more than 150 labels from distilleries around the world. A sampler board introduces patrons to the world of premium rums, and the bar staff is on hand to offer suggestions and share tidbits on the origins and history of the labels, and on the general craft of rum making. Signature rum cocktails are accented with fruits and herbs grown at the onsite organic garden, and the bar creates proprietary rum infusions with flavors such as such as honey and lemon, hazelnut praline and jalapeño.

Rum Bar BVI

Cooper Island Beach Club is a family-run boutique resort that features the Rum Bar offering over 100 different rums from all around the Caribbean. Photo: Cooper Island Beach Club

101 Rums Bar, Four Seasons Nevis

Take a seat at the pastel painted bar, where large open windows frame views of the colorful fishing boats lined up on Pinney’s Beach, with the green slopes of St. Kitts as the backdrop. The 101 Rums Bar is housed inside Mango, the Four Seasons open-air beach restaurant. Set on water’s edge, the restaurant and bar offer the best sunsets on the island. Guests can sample signature cocktails like Nevisian Spirit or the 100 Mile Cocktail, which is made exclusively from ingredients harvested within 100 miles of the resort. Serious rum drinkers can bypass the mixed fare and focus on tastings and sippings of some of the world’s premier rums such as Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, El Dorado 25 Year Old and Pyrat Cask. With over 101 aged rums and a selection of artisanal rhum agricoles to choose from, there’s a flavor to please every palate. Weekly rum tastings are on the itinerary, and guests should plan on arriving for sunset, as the bar is open only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Four Seasons Nevis

Sand and sea breezes set the scene at the 101 Rums Bar. The bar is located on Pinney’s Beach at the Four Seasons Nevis resort. Photo: Four Seasons Nevis

The Reef’s Rum Bar at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas

One of the first rum bars to grace the Caribbean combined premium labels with a memorable setting. Located just off the main lobby, the Reef’s Rum Bar offers a sophisticated indoor seating area that opens to an expansive outdoor terrace that delivers harbor views and a panoramic sweep of the mountains of St. Thomas. The indoor bar features small, intimate tables that become gathering points for smaller groups, as well as high-tops and flat screen TVs where guests can mingle and catch their favorite sports game as they sip and relax. There are a number of premium rums available for tasting, as well as a creative roster of handcrafted cocktails. Many of the drinks are made with Cruzan rum, locally distilled and bottled on sister island St. Croix. Try the signature cocktails like the Reef Rum Punch or Mango Tango.

St Thomas Frenchmans Reef

One of the Caribbean’s first rum bars opened at the Frenchman’s Reef resort in St. Thomas. The Reef’s Rum Bar provides an informal setting to enjoy premium spirits. Photo: Frenchman’s Reef

St Kitts Kitchen

The Caribbean’s Best Lunch Spots

 

There’s nothing like lingering over lunch when on vacation, letting the food come out slowly while the corks keep popping. And these relaxed meals are even better when enjoyed in a unique and memorable setting. We know of several such places in the Caribbean, and here are three of our favorites.

On the Beach

On the island of Antigua the place for beachfront dining is Catherine’s Café Plage, French Restaurant & Beach Bar. On Sunday’s you’ll be keeping company with members of the British expat community, who come for brunch and fill tables inside, out on the deck and onto the sand. After a nosh, many patrons linger and move to chaise lounges or spread a beach towel under the grape trees to make a day of it.

Antigua Catherines Cafe

Catherine’s Café Plage puts a Caribbean spin on the traditional Salad Nicoise. The menu at this favorite beachfront dining spot includes a number of innovative takes on French favorites. Photo: Debbie Snow

Located on Pigeon Beach, Catherine’s is an easy jaunt from Falmouth Harbour by land or sea. The husband and wife team of Claudine and Guillaume add a personal touch greet arriving guests. Their passion for good food shines as they read off the day’s menu from a movable blackboard. While some items are menu standards, there are constant changes that include fresh catches and new renditions of French cuisine. There’s typically a hot or cold soup to start, lobster or gazpacho. Salads are meals in themselves and while the menu changes you’ll always find a fish ceviche, and the lobster risotto and fish en papillote are always hot items. The café offers a lineup of fine wines, and are famous for sumptuous deserts. Catherine’s is open for lunch Wednesday through Monday, along with jazz on Wednesday nights, and special gourmet dinners each Friday.

On a Farm

With a farm right outside your door, you’ll expect to find plenty fresh produce on your plate. And that is just what you’ll find at The Kitchen, set inside the Great House overlooking the Belle Mont Farm resort at Kittitian Hill. Ask for a table by the glass doors and you’ll have an expansive view of the hillside down to the sea. If you are lucky enough to be staying here, then lunch is just a stroll from your villa. But most happen upon Kittitian Hill by recommendation, and it’s become the go-to lunch stop on an island tour.

St Kitts Kittian Hill

On the Island of St. Kitts, the culinary team at The Kitchen on Belle Mont Farm makes exclusive use of local ingredients, much of which is grown on the property’s organic farm. Photo: Debbie Snow

The Kitchen sources local ingredients from Belle Mont Farm to create a clean, authentic cuisine. This farm-to-table philosophy taps into the riches of the adjacent 400-acre organic farm, giving Executive Chef Christophe Letard and his team plenty of offerings to choose from when crafting the ever-changing menu. Meals can start with a cocktail made with fresh passion fruit juice, an arugula salad topped with a just-laid poached egg and sorrel salad dressing, then continue with freshly-caught snapper surrounded by savory organic vegetables. The view is majestic and the service is warm and friendly, so plan on a staying for desert of a freshly backed fruit tart.

On the Strand

Puerto Rico is a hotbed for culinary talent, and the city of San Juan is the arena that showcases their skills. Cocina Abierta is tucked off the main drag of Ashford Avenue in the trendy Condado disrict. Here, Chef Martín Louzao displays his creative genius in variations of contemporary cuisine with a touch of the Old World. His background and extensive travels have inspired unique variations and combinations of ingredients and seasonings that result in distinctive flavors and textures. Louzao is frequently visited by food lovers and chefs from other parts of the world. Hailing from Argentina, he spent time working with Albert Adrià and Argentinian Chef Gato Dumas, both innovators and pioneers of contemporary and modern cuisines. Louzao also worked with Spain’s Koldo Royo, who held a Michelin star rating from 1989 to 2007.

Puerto Rico Condado

At San Juan’s Cocina Abierta, Chef Martín Louzao creates offerings designed to please both the eye and the palate. He has been named as one of America’s best chefs. Photo: Debbie Snow

Today Louzao displays his talents at his three outlets in San Juan, Cocina Abierta, Nonna and Touro. For a long lunch, Cocina Abierta is the spot. Here the menu is set up like a play, in acts, and while you might want the entire performance at once, it’s more enjoyable to order acts One through Five at a more leisurely pace. Begin with one of the handmade cocktails; the signature list includes the Orange Blossom Ten, which is light and refreshing with orange blossom water, mandarin tonic and Tanqueray. Others include homemade reductions and fruit infused soda. You might start the First Act with a cold almond soup or the Purple Potato & Octopus Peruvian Causa, which features layers of potatoes and octopus, accented with black olive sauce and creamy garlic. The Second Act always includes seafood such as a Caribbean bouillabaisse or a squid ink pasta layered in prawns, with notes of Sambuca and cilantro. The Third and Fourth Acts include poultry and beef and there’s even a full act for the vegetarian. Plates come out looking like works of modern art, suitable for framing. But your taste buds will win out.

Juvia Miami

Miami’s Best Rooftop Bars

 

The streets of Miami’s South Beach district pulsate with chic sidewalk cafes and clubs, and downtown’s Brickell district is also trending. But there’s another side to the scene that is best enjoyed from above. A select number of rooftop bars add sweeping views of city and ocean to the menu. Here are three local favorites.

1 Hotel South Beach

This is our top choice for a cool, relaxed vibe. The 1 Hotel offers big views of Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean from a rooftop bar some 170 feet above the sand. This elevated space includes an adults-only pool, a lounge/cabana and the Watr At the 1, which serves up tempting Polynesian/Asian fusion tastes. The setting draws a chic crowd, and DJs keep the grove going. If you are not a guest at the hotel, you can still visit; enjoy cocktails and a nosh while soaking in the views anytime after 5 p.m. during the week, and all day on the weekends. www.1hotels.com/south- beach

1 Hotel South Beach

On the rooftop deck of 1 Hotel South Beach, a collection of comfortable couches and conversation pits create a relaxed setting for intimate al fresco gatherings with ocean views. Photo: 1 Hotel

Juvia

Juvia rises above the bustle of Lincoln Road to deliver all-around views of Miami Beach and the city. If you want be part of the see- and-be-seen crowd, this is the spot to go. Just be sure to ditch your cheesy souvenir Sobe t-shirts and come dressed to impress. It’s more of a nightspot, versus daytime hangout for the trendy. Come for cocktails only, or splurge on dinner from the exhibition kitchen, which serves up an eclectic mix of French, Japanese and Peruvian dishes. www.juviamiami.com

Juvia Miami Beach

The dining area at Juvia is flanked by a unique vertical garden created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, who drew design inspirations from the natural order of tropical rainforest canopies. Photo: Juvia

Sugar

Sugar at East Hotel is a rooftop oasis in the hip downtown Brickell district. Set high on the 40th floor, with lush plants and trees that create a unique Asian jungle vibe, it’s a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of downtown Miami’s financial district below. Go for happy hour and enjoy stunning views of the bay all the way to the ocean. Go at night, and take in the bright city lights of Miami’s mini “New York.” If you do opt for going after 10 p.m., be prepared to wait in line and make sure you are dressed appropriately! http://www.sugar-miami.com/

Sugar East Hotel

The rooftop gardens at Miami’s East Hotel creates a unique setting for Sugar, where patrons gather at an intricately carved bar to enjoy signature cocktails and Asian tapas. Photo: Sugar

Mango St. Lucia

Mango Festivals in the Caribbean

 

The mango is one of the world’s most popular fruits, and more than 100 varieties grow in the Caribbean. Each island lays claim to producing the juiciest and most flavorful fruits. But some take it beyond bragging rights by staging festivals and parties dedicated to all things mango. Here are the best places to celebrate the summer harvest and take in all the rich flavors of this king of fruits.

Mango Madness, St. Lucia June to July 2, 2017

June is known as “Month of the Mango” on St. Lucia, and the resorts of Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet go all out to honor the fruit. Throughout the month, resort guests can enjoy a variety of fruit-focused events. There are cooking demonstrations and chutney making classes, special five-course mango-themed dinners and plenty of mango-based treatments at Jade Mountain’s Kai en Ciel spa and Anse Chastenet’s Kai Belte spa. Guests can even learn how to craft mango cocktails and visit the organic farm where much of the produce used in the resorts is grown. The month ends with a six-day Mango Madness Festival that runs from June 27 to July 2 and includes numerous culinary events. http://www.jademountain.com/cuisine/culinary_events.html

Mango Madness Chef Allen Susser

Mango Madness at St. Lucia’s Anse Chastanet resort will be hosted by chef Allen Susser, who is the author of The Great Mango Book, an authoritative mango cookbook. Photo: Bernd Rac/Jade Mountain

Mango Melee, St. Croix July 9, 2017

At the peak of mango season, the George Village Botanical Gardens stages a day of educational workshops, children’s activities and a food competition. Known as “Mango Dis, Mango Dat,” this fruit-themed cook-off brings in chefs from around the Virgin Islands to showcase their inventive talents. There are four categories in which mangoes are used: Sips, Sweets, Salsas and Stuff. The day’s demonstrations and tastings include a tropical fruit identifying seminar and mango eating contests. Local food and drink vendors will be on site with an array of mango products for sale. This year’s 21st Annual Mango Melee and Tropical Fruit Festival takes place on Sunday July 9, 2017. www.sgvbg.org

Ripe Mango

Mangos have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, and were first brought from the Far East to the Caribbean by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Photo: Flickr

Nevis Mango & Food Festival:  July 6 to 9, 2017

The small island of Nevis goes all out for a four-day celebration of the mango that includes dining experiences, cooking demonstrations and cook-along classes. Celebrity chefs come to the island for demonstrations, and to prepare some of the culinary dinners. This year’s event welcomes Iron Chef Judy Joo and Celebrity Chef Seamus Mullen. Local chefs from the island’s top restaurants and hotels are also invited to showcase their creative culinary skills by incorporating mangos in recipes presented at the festival finale: the Nevisian Chefs Mango Feast. Attendees will gather to celebrate on Oualie Beach with mango tastings, sample dishes and rum tastings. A highlight of the weekend is the Friday night Mango Beach Lime Festival Party, staged at the various beach bars lining Pinney’s Beach. The festival runs Thursday through Sunday, July 6-9, 2017. www.nevisisland.com/nevismangofest

Nevis Mango Festival

A highlight of the 2017 Nevis Mango & Food Festival will be a special dinner staged at the Four Seasons Mango restaurant with Judy Joo of Iron Chef fame.

Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival : July 30-31, 2017

This event engages both guests and professional chefs in a range of special activities and workshops. The festival takes place at the Christian Valley Agricultural Station, where some 25 elite mango varieties are grown. These include Trinidad’s “Julie”, Haiti’s “Madame Francisque”, Cuba’s “Piniero”, Asian “Num Mai Doc” and a number of varieties from Florida. During the two-day event, participants can learn budding and grafting techniques, tour groves, visit food booths and enjoy live entertainment. There will be plenty of mango products to taste and buy, a story telling session, and a screening of the film “Sweetest Mango.” The main event is the Magic Mango Menu Culinary competition for profession hotel chefs and bartenders. The festival takes place July 30 and 31, 2017. www.antiguanice.com

Mango On Tree

Color is not always a good indicator of a ripe mango. As they reach peak ripeness, mangos become slightly soft to the touch, and will give off a fruity aroma at their stem ends. Photo: Ard Hesselink/Flickr