I love bars. Let’s just get that out of the way right from the start. And not just beach bars – bars of any shape and size whether they’re located on a beach or not tickle my fancy. When I find a bar I like, I can’t wait to throw some of my hard earned money at it. If my wife were to suggest that we go anywhere else but my favorite bar on the rare nights we get away from the three year old running our house, I would feel inclined to remind her that would be considered tantamount to a divorce declaration in some areas of the country. Friends could easily be defriended and blocked from my Facebook feed for considering anything else and I just don’t know how they would survive without access to my Facebook feed.
“Hey, I hear you guys have a babysitter tonight. Want to go to the library and make sure the Dewey decimal system is keeping things in order as it was designed to? You know the last thing a library needs is chaos in its shelves.”
Before you start assuming I’m a raging alcoholic, I can clear that up right now. I’m not. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been drunk and it’s been even longer since I’ve had a hangover. I love going to bars to enjoy great cocktails (talk to any mixologist and they will tell you creating those drinks truly is an art and I agree), hear some “you had to be there to believe it” stories, meet some new friends along the way and rediscover friends hiding behind beards (that one’s for you, Austin). Bars are a great melting pot and I simply love being one of the ingredients.
They’re also like coming home – I call it the “Cheers” factor. Having grown up watching George Wendt’s character walk into the bar and having everyone yell “Norm!,” I’ve concluded that’s kind of what I expect my favorite bar to be like. When you walk in the door, people know who you are and they greet you by name. It’s not that you’re more important than anyone else – it’s just an acknowledgement that they appreciate you choosing to frequent their establishment over others. Never underestimate the power of a personal connection and a simple “Hey, (insert name). How ya doin’?”. It will keep people coming back long after the lights start to dim on your brand new sign. People do it in the Caribbean all the time and they seem pretty damn happy to me.
Another indication I’ve found my home away from home – I can walk into a bar all by my wee little lonesome and not think twice about it. You see, I’m not a social person. Walking into any establishment where conversation is expected slightly frightens me to death. Plus, I really suck at small talk. I often find myself thinking “Why on God’s green earth did you say that? Really? A rooftop bar open year round in northern Indiana? Nice one, dork.” And then there’s my other side that I affectionately refer to as my “geek” side. I can really geek out on stuff I’m passionate about. Bring up social media, travel, cocktails, music or beach bars and before you know it, you’re missing an ear from me talking it off. Those evenings usually end up with me thinking to myself “Really? You literally talked for 20 minutes about why adding a second level to a beach bar is a better idea than trying to expand horizontally. For the love of God – exercise some self-restraint next time, man.” Sometimes the rum gets my mouth going faster than my brain can regulate what’s coming out of it.
So why all of the blathering about bars and why I love them? Because I discovered my newest sweetheart in Anguilla and her name is The Pumphouse. It’s the only bar I wandered into twice (the second time by myself!) and while it’s not on the beach (it’s on a salt pond and across the road from the beach so it’s pretty close), it has affectionately become known in my universe as my Anguilla Oak & Alley (find out more about my favorite hometown bar here). After getting the all clear from the wife that it was OK to leave her and the kid for the night, I made a beeline for the structure formerly used to pump salt from the pond behind it and ambled on up to the bar. A few hours later, after the best rum punch ever (made from a 100 year old plus recipe – more on that in an upcoming article), shots of 160 proof rum straight from the barrel and stories shared with the owner (including one about a nattily dressed older gentleman who shows up by himself every Friday night to dance), fellow travel bloggers Caribbean Soul Trekkers and some Beach Bar Bums fans, I had another night full of memories, new friends and yet another Cheers to call home. Being a beach bar blogger doesn’t pay squat but it sure can be a hell of a good time.
If you’re looking for a bar in Anguilla that reminds you of your favorite haunts back home, you might just want to head straight to Sandy Ground and the Pumphouse. Laurie, Deb and their staff will take mighty fine care of you and at the very least, you can say you had the best rum punch anywhere. And shots of that 160 proof rum are only $6 (I think). Word of advice – hold the water chaser in one hand as you use your other to shoot the rum. If you don’t, you may self-immolate before you can reach for it. Oh the stories you’ll be able to tell your friends because seriously, who doesn’t like hearing stories about shooting 160 proof rum in the Caribbean? Thanks to that experience, I just added a whole new paragraph to this extremely wordy article. It’s the geek in me coming out.