The Bahamian Cocktail That Could Cost You $750
On two separate occasions, I’ve visited the Bahamas to soak up the sun, shuffle my barefoot toes through the white sand beaches, scuba dive in the crystal clear blue water, and – most importantly – to forget about life for a while. While my two adventures to island paradise have been memorable in countless ways, each visit has bestowed upon me two cravings I have still yet to satisfy stateside – Conch Fritters and Goombay Smashes.
Each of the sun-kissed delicacies cannot be forged or replicated anywhere in the world. When I think of the Bahamas, I think of enjoying afternoon appetizers and ice-cold cocktails while playing a friendly game of Cribbage with the locals under the gazebo grill by the pool. Conch Fritters are a traditional Bahamian appetizer similar to what Americans know as hush puppies. Every restaurant, grill, or street side vendor uses their own unique set of ingredients and spices, but commonly red and green bell peppers are used along with salt, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes to give it that touch of heat that Bahamians seem to be particularly fond of. Egg and flour are mixed with spices and fresh chopped vegetables to form a batter that is dropped a spoonful at a time into hot oil and fried to a crisp, golden brown. The one thing that distinguishes a Conch Fritter from a bland American hush puppie is the conch itself.
Conch is a deliciously wonderful shellfish that in native to the coasts of the Caribbean, including the islands of the Bahamas. Conch is finely diced and worked into the batter in the same manner as the other ingredients and it makes the dish shine. Without the hint of conch, it’s a generic ball of batter that’s deep-fried and turns into a pre-hangover stomach ache. It’s almost as if the conch itself provides soothing properties to the human stomach lining that fights off the liquor that’s used to chase them down.
If you’re going to chase down a traditional Bahamian Conch Fritter, there’s no better cocktail to indulge in than a Goombay Smash – the quintessential island cocktail comprised of rum and natural juices. As far as I know, they don’t exist outside of Nassau. Of course, there’s a good chance I’m wrong, but I would equate it to being a kid and thinking teachers don’t exist outside of the classroom. Sometimes it’s better to hold your dreams dear to your heart and not face reality. The islands and Goombay Smashes provide an opportunity to do just that.
The bartender at the Westwind Club in Nassau where I stayed, graciously informed me I could put as many helpings of Conch Fritters and as many glasses of Goombay Smashes as I’d like on my room tab. I thought that was genius given the fact that I could keep my cash for other endeavors. The problem with that, I found out at the end of my week long stay, is that I didn’t keep track of what I was drinking. Or eating. Keep in mind, the grill at the club is only open for lunch and early happy hour, and I managed to rack up five orders of Conch Fritters during my six day stay and I’m still not exactly sure how many Goombay Smashes. An order of six Conch Fritters was $4.75 as I recall, and my six-day tab was $750. Ten years later, I still refuse to do the math.
I never did get the exact recipe used for Conch Fritters from the cook at the club – I’m convinced it was different everyday depending on the ingredients he happened to have on hand – but I did get the concoction for Goombay Smashes from Donny the bartender.
- One Part Light Rum
- One Part Dark Rum
- One Part Pina Colada Mix (Found by the handle at any grocery store)
- Two Parts Orange Juice
- Mix all vigorously in a two-quart pitcher and serve over ice in your favorite cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a cherry.
**Tip: I’d go with more than a pinch on the cayenne pepper. You want your fritters to have a little island kick to them.