From the moment you step off the plane in St. Thomas and are greeted with shots of flavored rum, you know your Virgin Islands trip is going to be one of those memorable-if-only-I-could-remember-it types of experiences. The signature drinks of the islands are rum-based and they include the painkiller, bushwacker, and rum punch, and to be an unbiased judge you really should try them all. But don’t let the sweet ingredients and occasional parrot-shaped glass fool you — these drinks are anything but girly.
1. Soggy Dollar Bar — Jost Van Dyke, BVI
There’s no dock at the Soggy Dollar Bar, so you have to stuff your money in your swimsuit and paddle to shore (they accept plastic, too, though “Wet Credit Card Bar” doesn’t have the same ring.) Mic, the longtime bartender, will happily mix you a painkiller, the legendary mix of dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple, and orange juice topped with fresh grated Grenadian nutmeg (supposedly originated at Soggy). But we prefer the Nilla Killa, which substitutes vanilla rum for dark rum. (Photo courtesy of Colleen Egan)
2. Beach Bar — St. John, USVI
Conveniently located near the ferry dock in Wharfside Village (read: ideal spot to grab one more drink before heading to St. Thomas), Beach Bar is a laidback spot to grab island specialty frozen drinks like the bushwacker and the BBC, a mix of Bailey’s, light rum, Coco Lopez, and banana.
3. The William Thornton (Willy T’s) — Norman Island, BVI
Better known as Willy T’s, The William Thornton is a 100-foot floating bar, restaurant, and seemingly alternate universe where you start to understand the decision-making process that compels young women to appear in “Girls Gone Wild” videos. In fact, after a few rum punches, the challenge for even the most conservative guest seems to be leaving the Willy T without a fake tattoo or jumping off the boat naked.
4. Corsairs — Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Steps away from the famous Foxy’s Bar is the smaller, divy-er, and more badass Corsairs. Tricked out in pirate skull decor, this is definitely the kind of place where you want to skip the fruity drinks and go straight for the absinthe. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/littleREDelf)
5. Stephen’s at Smuggler’s Cove — Tortola, BVI
Stephen’s isn’t so much a formal institution as a guy named Stephen who opens a beachfront stand and opens his bar when he feels like it — you’ll know when you see the orange “bar open” flag. Sure, you can get painkillers and bushwackers at other island bars, but where else will the proprietor run the blender off his car battery? (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Ian Carvell)