At home in Christiansted St. Croix, I was excited to visit my old watering holes.
“Make me a Sugar Bird,” mom said as she sat down with us. I was near the end of my interview with Jahmani, the bartender from the tiki bar, Breaker’s Roar.
Jahmani was the bartender that made my crisp, floral custom craft cocktail, Lorelie of the Lavenders, when we first met in the Winter of 2019. I had just returned home to St. Croix. I was excited to visit some local watering holes.
Christiansted St. Croix
We went to Christiansted where I met Jahmani. After asking me a few key questions about myself, like my favorite plant, favorite spirit, he presented me with a potent, tangy lavender drink with rum. I was in Lavender Love. So naturally, when the opportunity presented itself to write an article about a favorite libation, I had to contact Jahmani again.
We decided to meet where he was bartending, Breakers Roar. Surrounded by tiny shark jaws on the walls and deep diver copper hat lamps from the ceilings, I was excited and curious to see what the bartender extraordinaire, had in store for us. I wanted to know how someone could conjure up one’s totem drink. He must be psychic, I thought. A psychic bartender, now there’s something you don’t consider every day.
“Jahmani, how and why did you become a bartender?” I asked as we sat down in the cozy bar of Breakers Roar. There was a warm glow of deep, rich mahogany around us.
“My great aunt Carol gave me a Men’s Health magazine, and there was an article about alcohol. While in high school, I completed the culinary program where I became a chef first, then a mixologist. After I made my first infusion with orange juice, soda, and vodka, everybody loved it but me. I also won The People’s Choice award in the Iron Bartender Competition with a Sugar Snap Pea drink with mint and honey.”
He continued, “I want to make the drink that’s buried deep within somebody’s consciousness.” I leaned forward, and my ears perked up. This was what I was looking for. I wanted to know how Jahmani could be a psychic bartender.
“Like a painter, everyone is a different color. You must figure out how to mix color together to get the right shade. It’s that simple.”
This led to my next question. “What are some stereotypical drinks that you make for certain types of people?”
Jahmani corrected me, “I don’t like boxing people into stereotypes. I like to be all-inclusive. Let’s call it …”. As he paused, I nodded my head, agreeing with him. I didn’t like stereotypes either. I knew the word he was looking for as we almost said it at the same time. “Archetypes,” he said.
“The middle-aged Caucasian woman archetype is crisp, clean, refreshing and not too sweet. She likes flavors of lemon, grapefruit, lavender, and tarragon like a Cosmopolitan.”
He said, “The Asian palette likes Dragon fruit, lemongrass, ginger, peppercorn, and chilis.
The middle-aged African American male archetype likes anything extremely good on the rocks like rum, whiskey, scotch as in an Old Fashion.”
“The adventurous archetype is effervescent wanting something different most of the time like Frenet Branca or Kakaganga water.”
“So, what’s your favorite drink or the one most popular here at Breakers Roar?” I asked. Jahmani replied, “That would be La Vie En Rose. As a conscious cocktail, it has Peychaud’s Bitters, Grapefruit, Lemon, Cardamom, Hendrik’s Gin, and Combier, a rose liqueur.” I don’t think I’ve ever had someone describe a cocktail as conscious, yet Jahmani was talking about it.
He offered one, and I accepted. It was a refreshing, light, and tangy drink, perfect for the tropics on a sunny day. At the same time, we talked about the unusual combination and love of cardamom in La Vie En Rose. Jackson, the Breaker’s Roar manager, walked by and quipped, “I grew the cardamom myself.”
A rose cup
We took a few sips and enjoyed the ceramic rose cup filled with La Vie En Rose. We chatted more about the ingredients and their origins. Mom sat down beside us and said, “Make me a Sugar Bird!”
Mom saw the question in Jahmani’s eyes and added, “A Sugar Bird is a native islander that’s coming back home to the tropics after escaping the heat and hurricane season from June to November.”
“I have to ask you a few questions,” Jahmani said. After a few more queries, Jahmani left his chair to go behind the bar. We watched him work his magic in a flurry of glass, tinkling ice and alcohol. Walking toward us with a twinkle in his eye, Jahmani presented the first-ever Sugar Bird to my mother.
She took a sip. I took a sip. We looked each other in the eye and hummed together in agreement. This was good, damn good. I never thought wine and rum could mix so well. This man was a bartending genius. Now I knew for sure he was psychic.
Sugar Bird ingredients
- Fortified sherry wine
- Light Cruzan Rum
- Honey syrup
- Lime and grapefruit juice
- Angostura Bitters
- A dehydrated lemon wheel
While extolling the crispness and snap of the drink and the subtle yet complex flavors of the wine and rum, the customer beside us said, “Based on the description, I’ll take one of those. Hell, I’m going to get one of those and get in trouble tonight.” We all turned to this adventurous, mysterious stranger. We laughed because we knew he meant it, as he ordered the second-ever Sugar Bird. Good job, Jahmani.