I am from Nashville, but have bounced around all over and spent many of my formative years in Florida. There will always be a bit of that boy in me. Wandering through palmetto forests, paddling and slogging through the swamps, skipping class to go to the beach. I lived in the middle of the state for a while and loved it there, but I kind of came of age in South Florida. So when I saw this drink the other night, I knew I had to try it. Join me now, as we stand, don our sunglasses, neon t-shirts and linen jackets to make the Miami Vice.
I lived down south right at the height of the show’s popularity and yes, I really dressed like that, when I wasn’t in Hawaiian shirts, clamdiggers and Vans. A weird hybrid of beach bum and skater punk who grabbed Sonny Crockett’s wardrobe when it was time to dress up and be presentable. Years later, we would have a condo that is actually in the credits of the show, but that is another story. It is kind of funny that in many ways I have spent a good portion of my life defined by the place where I wasn’t. Growing up in Florida, I was a kid from Tennessee. It was not that weird, no one is actually from Florida. Ok, there are a few natives, but they are rare. My wife, for example, was actually born in Lakeland, Florida; which is funny, since I lived there at the same time. When the kid from Nashville moved back to Tennessee, suddenly, I was the guy from Florida, even though I had lived here before, gone to the same school and my family had been in the area longer than most. It is weird how we let things define us, what roles we embrace, how we chose to be known. I never really gave it much thought, but it is interesting how much of who I am was defined by where I was not.
I am still that guy who grew up eating croquettes de jamon and drinking cafe con leche. I feel at home walking the streets of Miami, driving through the Grove with the top down or wandering through the Everglades out beyond Krome. I am also still that guy who is defined by a certain “otherness”. When I am suited up and doing society things in the city, I take a strange pride in my farm roots. When I am bouncing around the country roads, I cannot ever forget the hustle and bustle and sidewalk cafes of the city. I am blessed, that I have had a wide variety of experiences and feel like I can fit in to just about any situation or surroundings. I am comfortable with who I am, which makes it a lot easier to be comfortable with who other folks are. But, if I think about it it too hard, maybe I have to admit that I always kind of want to be in that other place. Maybe that’s why I try to keep moving all the time. Maybe that’s why it has been so tough to be here at home, so much these many months. They say that the unexamined life is not worth living, so we could delve into that, but it is also widely known that ignorance is bliss, so let’s dive into the drink instead.
This is a boat drink. The unholy, but fun marriage of a Strawberry Daiquiri and a Piña Colada. If I had been of age, this is totally something we would have been drinking at the Hard Rock Cafe overlooking Bayside and the port. Yeah, if I had been old enough… This one is made in two steps, so let’s get to making part, the first. A lot of folks would do this step in the glass, but I prefer to use my small tin. It makes no real difference, so ladies choice, everybody dance. Whether you choose your tins or your glass, de-greenify and quarter a couple of strawberries and toss them in there with 1/4 of an ounce of simple syrup and muddle. Really smash them up, get rid of all of those straw clogging chunks, you will be glad you did later. If you muddled in your tins, transfer the mixture to your cup, if you muddled in your cup you are a step ahead, so take a lap. Once the strawberry mixture is in your cup and you have washed up, grab those sparkling clean tins and pop in 1 ounce of light rum, I went with Cane Run 12 and 1 ounce of dark rum, I used Lemon Hart & Son 1804. To that add 1 1/4 ounce of pineapple juice and 1 ounce of coconut cream. Set that to the side for a moment and fill your big old hurricane glass with some of that sweet Sonic pebble ice. Now, grab your tins again, like you did last summer, throw in some shaking ice and shake to the beat of “Smuggler’s Blues“, just for old times sake. Strain gently over the pebble ice so it makes this nice levels thing, top with more ice and garnish with a strawberry fan, some pineapple fronds and a reusable straw, before serving with some politics and contraband and a three day growth of beard.
I know these boat drinks are dumb, but this one is just stupid good. The strawberry mixes with the piña colada side as you slurp it up and it is all just kind of wonderful. It is virtually impossible to look cool while drinking this, but if you believe in your heart that you are cool, maybe it will work. Hell, we believed it in the 80’s wearing our loafers without socks, so never doubt the power of faith. Yeah, take a sip, put on your shades, crank up a little Don Johnson singing “Heartbeat“, forgot about that one, didn’t you? What can I say, it looks silly, it is silly, but sometimes silly is ok, sometimes it is sublime and it is only a step from the sublime to the ridiculous. Luckily, we know the way.
I could go on and on, nights at SeaFaire, learning to do j-turns in Jeff’s Firebird down at the Pier, getting my ass-kicked outside Peaches, watching the sunrise from the lifeguard stand on Dania Beach, teenage heartbreak, the story has it all, but I think I will save those for another day. The next time you catch an old Miami Vice rerun, keep your eyes open for the ghost of the monkey that was, he’s out there in the background somewhere, looking for the places he is going to be from, someday. If you see him, tell him he’s doing fine and not to hurry, I will be here when he catches up. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.