I have wanted to go to Smuggler’s Cove for as long as I could remember, but for whatever reason it never seemed to work out when I tried to make plans to go there. But people kept telling me how I really needed to go, because they were sure it was a place I would like. It is like when your friends tell you they have this other friend you should meet, because you would be perfect together. So, I felt a sort of kinship with this place before we had even met.
At 5 p.m. on a recent Saturday, Elisabeth and I arrived at Smuggler’s Cove right as the doors were opening. To really understand why the fascination with this bar I need to set the scene. Smuggler’s Cover is reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney – complete with wooden barrels; a waterfall; a small pond and palm fronds that hang over the banquette seating area.
While the décor might be garish, the bartenders take their island concoctions seriously. Smuggler’s Cover features over 200 rums from around the world, and the menu includes more than 70 cocktails. While the key ingredient in most of the cocktails is rum, it does offer other spirits.
In true tiki bar style, I went straight for the mai tai. If you are looking for a fruity tasting neon drink, then you need not try. Over the years, the original recipe has gotten convoluted – with people adding various ingredients like pineapple juice and grenadine, which just don’t belong in a mai tai.
Smuggler’s Cove only uses fresh ingredients, and this drink starts with aged rum, orange curaçao, rock candy syrup (2 parts sugar 1 part water), fresh lime juice, orgeat (almond syrup) and it is garnished with a sprig of mint and half a lime. What you get is a fresh tasting cocktail where the flavors of lime and orange really shine and the rum is actually present.
With an ambiance that makes you feel like you are a character in a Disney movie and well-executed drinks made with fresh ingredients all I can say is, “yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”