Thursday, February 12, 2009

Drinking in the Keys

We went to Florida for a wedding last week, and spent most of our time in Key West. We saw some beautiful scenery, and were part of a wonderful wedding.

However, we didn't have any great drinks. The best drink I had was a Mojito at Ortanique in Coral Gables. It was well made and tasty, but it was very small (total liquid must've been about 2 oz tops), and it cost something like $15. Even more than I would pay here in Chicago, and I'd likely get a larger drink.

Ernest Hemingway Haunts
We of course made the requisite visits to Ernest Hemingway's house and saw his 6-toed cats, and also stopped at Sloppy Joe's and Capt. Tony's (the original Sloppy Joe's) to walk in his shoes a bit. Ever since Phil Greene's session at Tales of the Cocktail last year about Hemingway, I was anticipating this trip.

Disappointing Drinks
At most of the bars we visited, virtually everyone was drinking beer or a pre-mixed rum concoction (usually far too sweet for me). The other mojitos I tried were not as good as the first, so I ended up sticking to beer too. Boy does Bacardi spend a lot of money down there getting placements on menus and listings for the "Bacardi Mojito," and people claiming to serve a Hemingway daiquiri always put sweeteners in it - it's just not right.

And the beer was not very interesting most of the time - aside from the big brands, which dominate there, Key West Sunset Ale was relatively common, and we found some interesting beers at Sloppy Joe's back room and at the Wagon Wheel. Surprisingly (to me), Yuengling has quite a presence there.

Just for fun, here are a couple of photos from the Everglades - that was the highlight of the trip by far, aside from the wedding. It's the dry season, so wildlife congregrates near the larger water holes looking for food. We happened onto one trail that had many alligators resting nearby - it was mating season so we even got to hear some of their mating calls. Cool! And it truly is a sea of grass, but when you look down, there are a few inches of water or more - did you know that the water is actually moving? It moves slowly (about 1/4 a mile a day, I believe), but it is moving.

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