Hurricanes, Pirates, and Really Cool Drinks

Good morning??

As Hurricane Irene swirled past my island home off the North Atlantic coast this weekend, my thoughts turned to another island over fourteen hundred miles south of New York. As the wind and rain attacked, littering lawns, roads, and pools with branches and leaves, I thought of that island’s turbulent past–its history drawing me as much as its tropical climate. For Irene’s last hurrah to us, she demolished a mature oak lining our street. The tree’s fifty foot trunk lay across our front yard and unlucky car like a mast of an old-time ship laid flat by unforeseen dangers. Again, I was reminded of the island I view as my second home.

Sexy Pirates Johnny Depp & Orlando Bloom

In 1513, explorer Ponce de Leon claimed La Florida for Spain. Indian tribes were scattered across the tiny islands that fan out from the mainland peninsula. Spanish control of the region, now known as the Florida Keys, was ineffectual to say the least. The island farthest west in the chain, known as Cayo Hueso, or Key West, was also one of the wildest, with feuding tribes whose battles left bones of its victims to bleach on the sandy shore. This is how the island earned the nicknames Skull Island and Bone Key. Eventually, the indians were pushed out by Spanish settlers focused on agriculture. The waters held hidden perils for Spanish ships transporting cargo between Havana, Cuba and Key West farms in the form of coral reefs seven miles offshore as well as rogue ships captained by infamous pirates–such as Blackbeard and Captain Kid. This era of life on the high seas during the 1600-1700s has often been romanticized in literature and movies, like the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” titles.

Gold coins sought by pirates, later by wreckers and treasure hunters

When Florida joined the United States in 1819, Key West was sold to American businessman John Simonton for two thousand dollars. He divided the island into quarters and split it with colleagues Greene, Whitehead, and Fleming. Simonton then convinced higher-ups within the United States government the southernmost point of the United States would make an excellent naval base. The formidable United States Navy made quick work of the piracy problem. However, clever residents soon made wrecking a profitable business, and Key West became the richest city in America by 1830. It retained that status for approximately twenty years.

Treasure hunters are modern-day pirates, legally plundering sunken ships for their cargo. Anyone who has seen “Titanic” knows what I mean. Mel Fisher was one such person. I find it no coincidence the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is hosting a piracy exhibit through June 2012. We plan to bike on over to 200 Greene Street to explore all that pirate booty during our next getaway this autumn. For now, I’ll happily settle for cuddling on the couch with my honey to watch our favorite adventure movie. He’s enjoying some grog, of course, a recipe shown on Pirate Soul’s website:


* 2oz Light Rum
* 1oz Spiced Rum
* 2tbsp Amaretto
* 2tbsp Grenadine
* 1tsp Lime Juice
* 1tsp Lemon Juice
* Combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker and shake well
* Strain into an old-fashioned glass and garnish with a twist

And me? I’m enjoying a Hurricane. My sister-in-law introduced me to this simple yet delicious beverage the evening after our family’s brush with Irene. I was suspicious, having a bad experience with the other by the same name. The color convinced me to give it a try, and I liked its light sweetness–perfect over ice. I also think it’s a good option when the power’s out or you’re away from that kitchen blender. Hurricane Warning: Sip or else it may blow you over!

What’s your recipe for restoring calm after a harrowing experience?

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia Yager Delagrange
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 21:55:22

    Calm after a harrowing experience? I would say a hot latte’ or some ice cream. I can’t imagine being involved in a hurricane. It sounds so frightening to me. Yet, I’m sure there are those who think we’re all crazy over here in California what with all our earthquakes. But, frankly, I never think about them. They’re usually a little shake or two every now and again. They’re always threatening “the big one” but I can’t worry about that. There are plenty of other things to worry about instead – like our economy or global warming!

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  3. Jolyse Barnett
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 22:27:44

    Ice cream sounds wonderful-so soothing. I think I’d have two scoops of maple walnut ice cream in a waffle cone. What’s your favorite, Patti?

  4. Tuere Morton
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 07:23:08

    Mmm, Pirate’s Grog looks delic!! The morning of the hurricane, I uncharacteristically made the family breakfast: cinnamon french toast, scrambled eggs and sausage just because I still had power and was kinda bracing myself for eating uncooked food (if we lost it). So pretty much anything we would ordinarily eat restores the “calm” after a hurricane 🙂

  5. jayne ormerod
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 09:02:09

    We bid Irene “sionara” via a neighborhood bash with homebrewed beer that would go bad without refrigeration so it HAD to be consumed. This after we’d all spent a hot sticky day cleaning up storm debris so everyone was very thirsty and the brew was still nice and cool and refreshing. Sure wish I’d know about the Hurricane beverages! It would have been a way more fun celebration! I hope there isn’t a “next time” but maybe we can find another excuse to have a Hurricane Drink party! Thanks for sharing, and glad to hear you surivived the storm.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Aug 31, 2011 @ 09:11:24

      Hi Jayne. What a wonderful way to celebrate your community after a frightening experience! I agree with you 100%. I don’t want to have a “next time” for a real hurricane, but I’m game for enjoying that drink again someday.

  6. Catie Rhodes
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 11:28:47

    Hurricanes are bad business. We get one every few years. The last one that really dealt us a blow was Ike. Our power was out for a week. Really, once the hurricane was over, I was so busy cleaning up and assessing damage, I didn’t have time to feel tense and nervous. I’m glad you all came out on the other end of Irene. 😀

  7. Jolyse Barnett
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 11:42:26

    Catie, you are a far more adventurous, brave woman than me. I cannot imagine facing that kind of storm more than once or twice in my lifetime. Our yard is a wreck and I’ve been busy meeting with insurance claims people while trying to figure out how to swing a new car payment. Things could’ve been far worse though. We were very lucky.Thanks for your kind thoughts.

  8. Dawn Berkoski
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 15:07:14

    Your positive attitude makes me smile! Glad you and your family are safe and sound.

    Yay for sexy pirates! 🙂

  9. alicamckennajohnson
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 20:11:28

    That sounds like quiet a drink. did you see the Bones episode that took place in Florida and they found pirate treasure? It was the Finder. Very fun

  10. Julie Glover
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 21:03:27

    Living near the Texas Gulf Coast, we got a nice hit with Hurricane Ike. Tree limbs all over the yard, power out for 10 days, and a hole in our roof (a complete hole, as in rain pouring straight down into our dining room). Not fun, but I’ll take a hurricane over some of the other natural disasters anyday. You have advance warning and can evacuate. We did just that and got a mini-vacation in San Antonio while wind and rain ravaged the coast. Oh, and we have a beautiful new roof now. 🙂

    Glad you made it out of Irene okay!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Sep 04, 2011 @ 22:56:42

      I’m sorry for the hassle Hurricane Ike gave your family. Good point, Julie. We did have warning and those who wanted or needed to evacuate had the ability to do just that. We are thankful our loss was minimal, and we’ll be buying a new car to replace the crushed one.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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