Where: The Four Seasons Resort on Great Exuma, Bahamas
When: One June Afternoon, several years ago.
What: Had some very expensive rum at a ritzy resort bar.
Why: The Working Stiff and his party was thirsty, and the rum was good!
One June some years ago we were vacationing on the Bahama island of Great Exuma, which is the main island of the Exuma Chain, roughly southeast of Nassau, the Bahamian capital. The wife and I, along with my brother and his wife had rented a 2-bedroom house on the beach perhaps 10 miles north of Georgetown, the island’s largest settlement and center of activity. The house was built in a classic Bahamian style, with 2 queen bedrooms on either side, each with their own full bath. There was a fully equipped kitchen, living and dining area, and a small patio on the back with a beautiful beach as the backyard. The house sat on the east, or windward side of the island so was frequently windy with a few choppy waves, but very nice for hanging out and enjoying the occasional swim. The beach was beautiful and the water was warm, if just a bit rough for snorkeling. I enjoyed taking my coffee out onto the beach for a walk most mornings during our stay, enjoying the warm breezes and the cool sand between my toes as the sun rose a million miles away off to the east over the Atlantic but yet somehow so close. One morning I was even able to pry the wife out of bed to have coffee on the beach with me. She resisted the idea but thanked me afterwards.
My brother and his wife knew the owners of the house from North Carolina and they are all still friends. They were good people to work with for the rental so I’ll include the link to their page on VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner.) The house is called the Yellow Bird House, and is on Tar Bay. We had a rented car also which we consider to be required when visiting these very rural islands in a non-resort setting.
Like much of the Bahama Out Islands (which is most of the Bahamas, really,) Exuma is in fact quite rural and has long stretches of open road between towns or the smaller “settlements.” There was at least one large and ritzy resort there though, The Four Seasons, north up the road 10 miles or so. We cleaned up after the beach and put on our good tropical shirts and headed up that way one evening to check it out. As I recall we thought we would peek at their dinner menus and at least find a fancy resort bar for a drink. Somehow I don’t have any pictures of the joint but it was in fact a peaceful grouping of low tasteful buildings situated amongst lots of lush tropical landscaping on the stunning Emerald Bay beach. It was substantially off season and the resort was mostly empty, so we wandered freely without running into many customers or staff. We checked out the small but elegant casino briefly, and then on to a look at the menus at several of the resort eateries. Fancy! Or as Mrs. Working Stiff would say “shoo-shoo fa-fa.” No surprise that we decided to conserve money and just have a drink! There were several bars to choose from both indoors and out and we settled at a colorful inside bar just off the main restaurant, which seemed to be a clubby steakhouse sort of affair.
Now, some context. I had just recently finished the fantastic book “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails” by Wayne Curtis, and was thenceforth on a mission to try as many fine rums as possible. Not the clear (but serviceable) swill that you might mix with Coca-Cola, but more the aged dark rums that one would enjoy straight – sipped like a respectable brandy. The definition of rum is actually quite loose: liquor distilled from sugar or its by-products. What many don’t know though, is that aside from mixing it with Coke or pineapple juice, it can be quite a fine and nuanced liquor when approached that way.
Ah, back to the story and to the point! The bartender approached and greeted us while I was eyeing rum bottles. I asked him about one unknown bottle that he told me was Ron Matusalem – a Cuban Rum. (We were in The Bahamas, where Cuban stuff was OK.) I said, I’ll have that, straight, light ice, twist of lime. My brother is one of those blessed drinkers (like me) who can drink whatever is appropriate to the situation and he ordered the same. The wife ordered her usual Bombay martini and my sister in law a house rum punch. The environment was great and the view was wonderful. The rum was good too. Smooth and substantial with toasted vanilla, caramel, and a hint of oak. All common characteristics of a good aged rum. Oh but then we got the bill and forevermore Mrs. Working stiff will call this The Rum Incident!! That was a good rum but $22 a glass- yikes! Where are we anyway – the Four Seasons or something! Oops, so I think that was a $76 round of drinks and so then we went across the road to a small plaza where we had a pizza for dinner with beers from the reach-in and called it even.
The Four Seasons is now the Sandals Emerald Bay resort and is a beautiful place, whether you stay there or just enjoy a glass of Cuban rum. The pictures are representative pictures of Great Exuma.