Modernizing the liquor cabinet

As someone who usually spends more time mountain hiking and snow skiing than bar-hopping, I was flattered to receive an invitation to a party billed as "Save the planet later, drink rum now" at the Silver Legacy in Reno.

It was also tagged as a "private VIP Party," which naturally appealed to my ego.

Thus, there I was last Thursday at the entrance to the Rum Bullions Island Bar where a lithesome beauty in a colorful sarong greeted me warmly and directed me to a table where I was given a black T-shirt and advised that the food was back there and the bar was over there.

Putting first things first, I headed for the buffet - giant shrimp, Jamaican Jerk beef ribs, crab cakes - just the usual things you serve at home. Plate heaped, I found a high table with a single chair waiting for me. No sooner than I had settled down than I was approached by another very attractive sarong-wearing miss who asked me if I would enjoy a beverage.

Coming from a generation in which the vodka martini has long reigned as the drug of choice, I was baffled by the beverage menu. What, for instance, was a "Jamaica Me Crazy ($4.50)? Or a "Rum Bullion, Degree of Difficulty ($3.75, $4.50, $4.25)?

This called for careful reading: "Level 1, for those who had an OK day, Pusser's Red 80, just squeezed OJ, topped with fresh-ground nutmeg. Level 2, for those who had a little tougher day, add another shot of Pusser's Red 80. A really bad day, another of Pusser's Red 80. Not recommended to exceed level 3 as your day couldn't have been that bad - you ended up at Rum Bullions."

Thoroughly confused, I asked my sarong what she could recommend. Taken aback, she studied the drink menu and finally pointed on the menu to Plantation Punch ($4.50), "a Caribbean delight."

Always ready to be delighted, I accepted her recommendation. Soon she returned with a largish glass filled with a pink mixture, topped with a slice of pineapple, a bit of an orange and a bright red cherry. Realizing that I had just discovered my daily fruit diet requirement, I savored the drink, a very pleasant mixture of "Myers Dark Jamaican Rum, fresh OJ, a hint of pineapple juice, a dash of sweet and sour, a splash of Grenadine for color topped off with a float of Bacardi 151 to add the heat of the islands."

Sounded like a label from a supermarket frozen dinner, but when tasted turned out to be fit for a king, or at least president. I may never try another martini. (Well, don't quote me.)

Meanwhile, a duet of bass fiddle and garbage can lid were playing something that was probably Jamaican but sounded nothing like last time I was on that island. Pleasant stuff, soon replaced by twin pianos swinging more identifiable island music. Happily, no rock 'n' roll.

The crowd by this time was well over 200, which certainly downgraded the VIP tag. This was supposed to be a "press party," according to the sign at the entry. I didn't know there were that many media people in all of Nevada, not to mention that most of the parading women were of TV anchor beauty (in Europe they call anchorites "news readers," which may be why CNN is so popular in Europe).

Monica, my sarong-server, asked if I would like to try something else but I opted for another Plantation Punch - why switch from a winner, although the Voodoo Magic ($5) ... "a voodoo magic woman concocted this mixture and its effects are guaranteed to cast a spell ... with a bit of Appletons VX, Grand Marnier, orange and pineapple juice and you may find yourself bewitched."

But before Monica could return she and two other sarong-clad wait persons were called on stage to go through a confusing routine which seemed to consist of twirling arms, slapping knees and just being beautiful. The performers seemed to think it all a little ridiculous but danced away with great good humor.

Knowing my capacity, I skipped a third drink and admired the architecture which seemed to consist of multi-colored artificial palm trees and bare rouge-hued steel girders. Just basic-basic postmodern.

One possible jarring note: among the placards listing islands of the Caribbean was one for Cuba. I have nothing against Castro myself, but the Silver Legacy may want to keep an eye on any visiting Florida anti-Castroites.

Later, back home in the safety of my Carson City abode, I contemplated the contents of my modest beverage cabinet. No rum. A failure I mean to correct.


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