When you can’t get to the Caribbean, Miami makes a fine alternative. I employed said rationale when I moved to South Florida 22 years ago. It’s served me pretty well so far, few times more so than three Thursdays ago.
The wife and I were celebrating anniversary #20. Noted Caribbean traveler that I am, I felt that the nice milestone was worthy of an even nicer weekend island escape. I had a pretty good plan in place too, only I hadn’t counted on our teenage twins needing us to stick in town for some school stuff.
So, yeah, Miami would have to do. (Womp womp.)
Any even slight disappointment that I may have felt over missing out on our Caribbean getaway vanished immediately, though, upon my being presented with The Islander Cocktail.
Before we get into this tipple, how about I tell you a bit about where you can find it…
The Place: The Deck At Island Gardens
Billed as Miami’s most exquisite waterfront restaurant and al fresco lounge, The Deck at Island Gardens carries some very weighty culinary credentials. The hot spot originally opened in February 2016, but a new (as of November 2019) manager (Marco Maccioni) and executive chef (Alfio Longo) have added some serious new sizzle.
Fine dining aficionados will recognize Marco’s surname from Le Cirque New York, as legendary a destination for fine dining as ever existed in Manhattan. Chef Longo also sharpened his culinary skills at Le Cirque, assuring patrons of The Deck at Island Gardens of a singular dining experience.
As Le Cirque once did, The Deck at Island Gardens oozes elegance and style while remaining wholly unpretentious. Just look at the name, The Deck at Island Gardens. No moniker could be more fitting or straightforward for this place. I mean, the restaurant does stretch along a nice/stylish expansive deck.
That The Deck at Island Gardens also happens to be nestled along the west coast of Watson Island astride a marina loaded with multi-million-dollar megayachts is nice too, of course, but you get the point. There’s no made-up legend, gimmicks, or mystery to the restaurant’s name, the place, or anything on the menu.
I like that.
The Vibe: Sexy
Also easy to like here: The sexy vibe.
Cozy fire pits inside waterfront cabanas; an on-site DJ playing an inspired mix of international lounge, funk, and electronica; the twinkling lights of Miami across the water – everything comes together beautifully here to make you feel special.
The entire restaurant/deck overlooks the downtown Miami skyline; the bright lights, hustle, and bustle close enough to admire, but removed enough so as not to annoy.
It’s like an oasis, really; one requiring of a special drink.
The Cocktail for This Islander
For me, during our anniversary dinner, said drink was The Islander.
Yes, I ordered it with thoughts of our missed Caribbean escape in the back of my mind. Yes, the rum employed in its production – Ron Botran Reserva – is a personal favorite too. The main attraction for me, though, is the paucity of ingredients required to mix up an Islander.
- 2oz Botran Reserva Rum
- 1oz Pineapple Juice
- .5oz Lime Juice
- 1 Scoop Coconut Sorbet
As loyal UC readers may recall, I’ve long held that the best cocktails require the fewest ingredients. Not only does this make them easier to make, but the more you make them, the more you’ll remember the special places you enjoyed them first.
I most certainly never want to forget the amazing evening we enjoyed at The Deck at Island Gardens, so you can bet I’ll be mixing up many Islanders in the months to come. Here’s how you can make one for yourself…
How To Make The Islander Cocktail
Grab all of the ingredients – Botran Rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, coconut sorbet – and combine in your shaker with ice. Next, shake away!
Finally, strain the mix from your shaker into your iced-up glass or coconut shell… That’s it!
Make Extra Time for Toppings
Well, that’s almost it. If you really want to make your Islander Cocktail sing, you’ll want to garnish some dried coconut and pineapple shavings on top. The combo works as a nice snack as you work your way down the drink. A little fresh mint also adds some crisp aromatics. It’s a little extra work, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Of course, you could always save yourself all the trouble by simply stopping in at The Deck at Island Gardens next time you’re in Miami, right? When you do, be sure to ask for our new favorite bartender, Aistis Zidanavicius.