“Washy, Washy! Happy, Happy! Smiley, Smiley!”
– The Anti-Bacterial Spray Person at the entrance to the Pearl’s Garden Cafe
Mrs. G-LO and I just finished up a a 7 night, Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl, which began on Sunday, October 31st and ended on Sunday, November 7th. We were scheduled to visit four islands (Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Tortola, and NCL’s private island in The Bahamas), but thanks to Hurricane Tomas, we had to skip our final destination and spend another day at sea before returning to Miami. There are many things that I could write about this vacation (the ship, the destinations, the service, the entertainment), but since our focus is booze and beer, that’s all you’ll hear about in this post.
When my wife originally booked the cruise, she mentioned that the Norwegian Pearl had a bar called “Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar”. This nugget of knowledge had me really looking forward to the possibility of trying some new beers and whiskies during our vacation. My original plan was to try one new whisky or beer per day, take some tasting notes, and write up a formal review when I got home. When I finally had a chance to peruse their beer and whisky line-up, I was somewhat disappointed because there was very little on their menu that would be considered new to me. Don’t get me wrong, for a very small bar, they had a very nice selection of whiskies, but only three or four that I had never tried. The beer selections were very disappointing, and were limited to mostly lagers and a few ales (not a single IPA on the menu!). Over a seven day period, I limited myself to a single glass of Glenfiddich 12 and a pint of Bass Ale, which was available on draught. While they’re both very fine drink selections, they weren’t what I was hoping for as far as blog posting material goes. Things were looking rather grim…
But then they got better! On our second night, Mrs. G-LO discovered that between 5 and 8PM, there were various drink specials offered throughout the ship. Since drinking on a cruise ship can get very expensive, very quickly, we decided to take advantage of the specials whenever possible, and since we were going to be cruising through the Caribbean, mixed drinks and cocktails seemed very appropriate. We had Mojitos, Dark n’ Stormies, various poolside “drinks of the day”, and several varieties of cocktails throughout the week. Overall, most of the drinks were very well prepared, and although they could get somewhat expensive when you paid the regular price ($9+ per drink when you factor in the automatic 14% gratuity that they tack onto each drink), they were a bargain when compared to what you’d pay for the same drink in an upscale bar on the mainland. Here are some new and classic drinks that we experienced…
French Kiss Martini
Ingredients: Svedka Vodka, Chambord Raspberry Liqueur, Grand Marnier, and fresh pineapple juice
Rating: I liked this one a bit better than the wife since she isn’t a fan of Chambord. Mrs. G-LO gives it a B- and I give it a B.
Ingredients: Stoli Vanil, Créme de Cacao, Créme de Banana, and Kahlua.
Rating: This was definitely a fun drink. Bananas in the Caribbean. How can you go wrong? Mrs. G-LO gave this an A-, while I give this a B+.
Ingredients: Wokka Saki Vodka, Soho Lychee Liqueur, and premium sake.
Rating: I went solo on this one. Though it was a good drink overall, with the vodka and sake cutting through the lychee sweetness, it wasn’t something that I could drink twice. I give it a B.
Ingredients: Bacardi Superior Rum, fresh lime sour, shaken thoroughly and strained into a chilled martini glass.
Rating: You can keep those frozen daiquiri variations, which are usually very watered down and way too sweet. The classic Daiquiri is the only way to fly! Tart, sweet, very potent, and incredibly delicious. I LOVE this drink, and The Pearl’s bartenders definitely know how to make it right. I give it an A+.
Ingredients: Patron Silver, Patron Citronage, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice.
Rating: The Margarita is neck and neck with the Daiquiri for best summer cocktail. This version is probably one of the best that I’ve ever had. Mrs. G-LO concurs and we both give it an A+.
Ingredients: 50% Frozen Pina Colada + 50% Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri = 100% Delicious!
Rating: I’m not a fan of slushy drinks, but I can always make exceptions. Coconut, pineapple, strawberry, and rum. Smooth and refreshing all the way! Have one while laying by the pool and I’m positive you’ll enjoy it too. FYI, in Hawaii, they call this one a Lava Flow. Mrs. G-LO and I give it an A.
So I didn’t get to do any whisky or beer research during our vacation. All I can say is, “So what?”. Thanks to the outstanding bartenders aboard the Norwegian Pearl, we had a fabulous time working our way through their boozy creations. And thanks to their drink specials, we didn’t go broke in the process!
Categories: Booze Review, Cocktails (Various)
Judging from the drinks I will assume this was a ladies only cruise?
Now give me my BLEEPing Whiskey!
Sir Wookie, oh lover of the Cuba Libre, this was not a “ladies only” cruise. As you had forewarned, the whisky selections would not live up to my expectations, hence the change in game plan. While the French Kiss and the Lychee Saketini had “girlie drink” leanings, the Perfect Margarita and the Daiquiri are no joke! Potent, delicious, and born in the tropics!
Cuba Libre? Just delete the cola and lime and you got a great drink. Now bring me my BLEEPing RUM! ARGH!
Alas, you discovered what I did, amongst all the gluttony on the cruise ships the emphasis is placed on quantity not quality when it comes to adult beverages. However, when you are confined to a floating metal box with thousands tourists you need large quantities of booze to stay sane. The only quality booze exceptions that I discovered the last time I was Shanghaied by my family and force to cruise the sea was the wine available in the main dining room and high end restaurants and the overpriced scotched in the tiny cigar bar. Fortunately you get to jump ship at Caribbean Ports where the good rum is plentiful and cheap.