The Pink Iguana
► By Bartender Elijah Gomes of Smokey Joe’s Island Grill
Come 7 p.m., there’s usually a lineup for baby back ribs, open-fire rotisserie chicken and icy cocktails at Smokey Joe’s, the alfresco restaurant across from the Playa Linda Beach Resort in Aruba’s high-rise hotel area.
— Photography Kenneth Theysen
This fruity and creamy frozen drink is one of the restaurant and bar’s bestsellers. Some days, charismatic bartender Elijah Gomes goes through more than a gallon of crushed strawberries and coconut cream, which he blends with ice and a deceptively large amount of white rum.
What he likes about this cocktail is that it’s sweet like dessert – he’s a self-admitted strawberry fanatic – but still refreshing because of the slushiness and the fruit. “People come in flip-flops straight from the beach and it cools them down,” he says.
Makes 1 cocktail
2 oz. coconut cream
4 oz. crushed strawberries
½ - 1 oz. simple syrup
4 oz. white rum
2 cups ice
- Blend the coconut cream, strawberries and syrup. Set some aside if you want to make a layered drink. Leave the rest in the blender.
- Add the rum and ice to the blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a 500 ml Mason jar or other glass, layering with the reserved strawberry purée as desired.
Personality: For a bartender, your personality can be just as important as your ability to make a great drink. Gomes has both covered. “I like interacting with people. As you can see, I’m a very chatty person. Sometimes the manager has to tell me to focus,” he says, jokingly.
Flair: We can’t all be like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, throwing bottles of rum, vodka and gin into the air, the contents of which miraculously end up in beautiful salt- and sugar-rimmed glasses. But Gomes would like to get there. What’s holding him back is the learning curve. “I’m afraid to break a bottle and have to pay!” he says, laughing. So for now, he’s practicing what he calls “beginner flair.” No throwing, but lots of entertainment.
- If you want it less sweet, add a little soda water, says Gomes. “If you add lime, it’ll make it too bitter.”
- “Blend the cocktail that extra second longer to make it smoother,” says Gomes.
- You can add thin layers of strawberry-coconut purée between the icy, blended layers of the cocktail itself to create a lava lamp look. “It seems like you’re drinking art,” he says.