Welcome Aboard: Nautical Cocktails for Any Port

by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits

Nautically themed drinks in the Miami Vice era included brightly colored liqueurs in order to set the mood of being on a boat in trendy South Florida. Blue Curaçao resembled the vibrant blue color of the water. Brightly colored green Crème de Menthe was reminiscent for the color of the green markers on your port (left) side of the boat while leaving the channel to venture on your voyage. Crème de Almond represented the other side of the spectrum as the fiery red as in “red, right, return” that tells you to leave the red markers to your right (starboard) when returning from sea.

These days, and especially on the summer waters of Nantucket, those bold colors are more often seen in some variation on gentlemen sporting their classic Nantucket Reds or ladies adorned in their latest, most colorful Lilly Pulitzer outfits.

As host of these fashionably clad party goers for sunset cocktails aboard your boat, the best way to make a flavorful refreshing drink on board for your guests is with just a few key quality ingredients, minimal prep and ease of clean-up for more time to enjoy your drinks on the bow of your boat with your guests.

Here is a list of nautically inspired cocktails to get your boat party started. One thing is for sure, you will need lots of citrus to garnish and flavor your beverages, while also helping to prevent any outbreak of scurvy.

FARM FRESH MOJITO
The most challenging part about making a mojito on board is that you need simple syrup, which is a combination of one part fine sugar diluted with one part hot water. While this may sound like the easiest task to do on the mainland, it is not while on a small boat with a tiny galley. It is also not very common to be able to purchase such an item when provisioning your bar either. This is when you have to use your best bartending survival skills in order to make this concoction while on dry land and safely get it back to the boat. Remember that small juice jar with a lid you have been saving because it will come in handy some day? Take this with you to a local coffee shop, ask for a small splash of hot water (keep in mind that the glass will get hot!) and mix in a handful of sugar packets until the sugar has completely dissolved. Be sure to have the lid on the jar tightly closed when you carefully transport it back to the boat so you don’t end up in a sticky situation along the way.

Place mint leaves that you acquired from Bartlett’s Farm and a lime wedge in a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and a tablespoon of simple syrup, muddle once more. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour two ounces of Privateer Silver Rum over the ice, then top with San Pellegrino. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.

GILLIGAN’S GIN-GIN
Hopefully your three-hour boat tour will be just that, but in case you have limited time on the water and need to cut your trip short in order to get back to dry land, this cocktail has a little extra strength to it so that you may only need just one.

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in two parts Plymouth Gin ‘Navy Strength’ (as in it is stronger in proof than most gins and was created for the British Royal Navy), one part Fevertree Ginger Beer and top with a splash of Something Natural Lemonade. Garnish with the a slice of lemon.

LIMEY SEABREEZE
A classic cocktail with a vodka base and a combination of various fruit juices (as are the similarly concocted drinks Bay Breeze, Cape Codder and Salty Dog), this juicy libation can always be livened up with a modern twist. With a surplus of flavored vodkas available, avoid the hassle of using fruit juices that need to be refrigerated after opening and come in large containers that don’t stow well down below due to their size.

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in two parts Absolut Lime Vodka, one part Spindrift Grapefruit Sparkling Water and top with a splash of Triple Eight Cranberry Vodka. Garnish with the a lime wedge and a krazy straw.

MARGARITA
Margaritas just seem to be a way of life when it comes to boat drinks. (Did you know that National Margarita day is actually in February?) Easy, peasy and don’t even think about making this frozen as there is no blender on the boat! One of the key components to making a top-quality margarita is to use better quality ingredients. While there are less expensive (read generic) brands of triple sec and tequila, it is well worth the extra spend on both of these ingredients not only for a better tasting drink, but also in order to avoid a dreaded hangover.

Combine two parts Casamigos Silver Tequila, one part Cointreau in a shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into a margarita (or coupe) glass that has a lightly salted rim. Garnish with a lime wheel.

According to Jimmy Buffett, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”