Tempting Tipple

If you're sailing the Caribbean's Grenadine islands, Mayreau is worth a stop, for more reasons than one. From "People and Food" from our April 2009 issue

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Author Barbara Gail Warden (center) samples a Grenadines Delight, with James and Anita of Island Paradise at her side.Courtesy Of R. Bulloch

Today we got two free drinks and made three new friends.

I'm cruising with my friend Randy Bulloch on his 36-foot Ericson cutter, Aditi. Randy is accustomed to an erratic (and eccentric) stream of guests and crew, and both boat and skipper are ready for anything.

Though our intent yesterday had been to head for the Tobago Cays, which are called "the jewel of the Grenadines," we were enticed by the description of Mayreau's Saline Bay in Chris Doyle's Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands, so we headed in to drop anchor in one of its many beautiful, sandy spots.

We decide to hike/run across the spine of the island to Salt Whistle Bay in the heat of the midday sun while wearing backpacks and carrying 15-plus pounds of assorted books, notebooks, and a camera. While it's a short run (probably not even half a mile), it's a long, steep hill, especially when one is laden with gear. After panting across the island's high point, we conclude that this isn't a very clever idea. Waiting until we get back to Aditi to douse our parched throats is out of the question-we're ready for a cold drink now. Impulsively, we duck into one of the shady, breezy restaurants we'd spotted on the way up here.

The Island Paradise is a room painted as an underwater seascape. Sharks, dolphins, and other undersea creatures swim across Caribbean-blue walls decorated with cheerfully colored courtesy flags from visiting yachts.

Decoupage, featuring the currency of countless countries, covers the bar. After we enjoy an ice water and then a beer, the friendly waitress, Anita, lures us into lunch. She was born and raised on the island. Her sisters teach at the local school, and her children always come to the restaurant after school-in fact, they run in, smiling shyly, while we're there. Munching on perfectly grilled sandwiches, we watch her son teaching his little sister to dance by the undersea mural. After lunch, we're tempted again, this time by the drink menu. This lists the most original collection of cocktails either of us has seen in a long time; they're engineered by the restaurant's owner, James, who's done a great job of matching local juices with native ingenuity.

While both drinks are tasty, mine, a sweet, fruity concoction called a Grenadines Delight, really lives up to its name. When I tell Anita how much I like it and ask if I can copy the recipe, which is printed on the menu, she runs to check with James. "He says yes," she reports. "And both your drinks are on the house."

On the way back down the hill to Saline Bay, we can't resist stopping at the other restaurant that'd caught our eyes. Robert Righteous & de Youths is decked out with contorted driftwood and sculptural sea wrack, partially tiled with local beach rock and coral, and hand-painted throughout (by Robert himself) with wild plants, animals, and Rastafarian symbols. Robert, a friendly and outgoing Mayreau native with wild Rasta hair, sits down to chat. He'd left Mayreau, he tells us, for 14 years to visit every country in South America, then returned to create this eccentric, charming, and humorous spot.

If you're sailing in the Caribbean, don't skip Mayreau, and be sure to climb the hill far enough to see James and Anita at Island Paradise and Robert at Robert Righteous and de Youths. It's a steep hill, but the trip is worth it -and take it from one who's done it: Leave the weighty gear behind!

Grenadines Delight
1 ounce Galliano liqueur
3 ounces orange juice
1/2 medium banana
1/2 to 1 ounce Grenadine syrup*
1 1/2 ounces vodka
*Amount depends on desired sweetness
Combine all ingredients and mix in a blender. Serve over ice. (If you don't have a blender aboard, use a hand-operated one, or substitute 2 ounces banana juice).
Serves one. Cheers!