In The Bahamas, the Birthplace of the Goombay Smash
By Alexander Britell
Like all of the greatest recipes, it’s a secret.
And while the ubiquitous, yellow Goombay Smash has traveled the world as one of The Bahamas’ signature cocktails, there are none quite like this one.
This is Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, the beating heart of the tiny town of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay, the place where the Goombay Smash was born.
More than a half century ago, the late Emily Cooper came up with her now-renowned concoction, when a customer suggested she create a signature tropical drink.
Quickly, the Goombay Smashed, and the bar remains a mixology Mecca, drawing every manner of cocktail-loving pilgrim to this tiny island in Abaco, with a brand-new look after a post-Dorian rebuild.
“It was all word of mouth,” says Phylicia Smith, Cooper’s granddaughter, the family’s third generation to run this legendary watering hole on Green Turtle Cay. “There was no internet back then.”
Locals and visiting boaters buy the drink by the gallon, with large containers of pre-made Goombay Smashes awaiting guests at the entrance to the bar.
So what’s actually in it?
There’s a Goombay Smash in just about every bar in The Bahamas, and if you’ve traveled the archipelago you’ve encountered one, typically some mix of pineapple, coconut and rum. Some variations use Nassau Royale, others apricot brandy, others Malibu.
This one is different, though.
There’s real balance, with none of the sometimes cloying sweetness or synthetic flavors you find in other Goombay Smashes; plainly, it’s perfect.
Phylicia admits there’s some Bahamian-made Ricardo coconut rum; the Pineapple juice is a sure thing, too.
But the rest she won’t reveal, keeping the promise Cooper made so many decades ago.
“The secret is what makes it all special,” she says.
But no matter what’s in it, it’s clear that Cooper was a mixological genius — only underscored by the fact that she never actually tasted the drink.
Cooper, you see, had a lifelong allergy to pineapples, and remarkably invented the cocktail without ever trying it.
“She was a fortune teller,” Phylicia says. “She knew.”
For more, visit Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar on Facebook.
Publishers Note: We are happy to partner with Alexander Britell, Founder and Editor in Chief of the Miami, Florida based Caribbean Journal and his staff contributing to the OTC and our Caribbean Connection Section. Check out the popular online magazine/website at caribjournal.com for valuable information on all fabulous travel options and things of interest in the Caribbean.