One of my favorite places on earth is Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. I made my first visit there in the early 90's primarily for diving but fell in love with the Island's charm topside as well as underwater. Upon every repeat visit, I fall deep under the spell of the Fat Virgin and her surrounding islands.
When in the BVIs, visiting The Baths National Park is a must.
Traipsing through these spectacular caves, gazing at their formations while turquoise water swirls around your ankles is an experience unique to Virgin Gorda.
My last visit was part work, part fun. Deborah Mitchell, a close friend, and TV producer colleague was covering the BVI's annual fashion and lifestyle event, the Summer Sizzle.
She had also scheduled an interview with Taraji P. Henson that year's host for the event and invited a few of us TV producer colleagues along to help out.
Villa del Sole, sits in Maho Bay. The house has four bedroom suites, large kitchen, pool and is only 100 yards from the beach. It became our office and playground for the week. We were really roughing it as you can tell.
I was able to squeeze a few dives in on this trip and was pleasantly surprised at how pristine the reefs were. Many Caribbean destinations I dove 20 years ago have sadly been horribly trashed in the last couple of decades.
When I arrived at the dive shop, the staff got a kick out of my antiquated Advanced Diver PADI card I had earned over 20 years before at the same facility. I eventually went on to complete my rescue diver in the Bahamas a few years later but I'll always remember finally achieving buoyancy control diving in the BVIs and the many magical dives I made there.
If you imbibe, no trip to the British Virgin Island is complete without sampling Pusser's the delicious locally bottled rum.
In the Caribbean, every island seems to have its own signature cocktail, the Caymans has it's mudslide, Jamaica has its Jamaican Smile and the BVI's has Painkillers.
Although we all enjoyed cooking meals in the spectacular villa, Hog Heaven became our favorite place to eat. Hands down, they served the best ribs any one of us had ever tasted.
The view from their restaurant is breathtaking and overlooks the private island owned by Google's founder.
The other star attraction, besides outstanding food, was the restaurant's fantastic painkiller cocktails.
On our last visit to the restaurant before heading back to NYC, I was determined to squeeze the recipe out of them for the batch version. Hastily scribbled on a Post It, I've been carrying it around in my wallet for ages. It was time it made it's way to this blog.
Hog Heaven thankfully, has recently reopened in March after severe damage from Hurricane Ima.
This cocktail is the perfect Caribbean trip in a glass and a great fit for any summer barbecue or party. The recipe below asks for freshly grated nutmeg. I believe it really enhances the taste of the cocktail. However, if grating nutmeg is too fussy for you, just shake some ground nutmeg from the spice jar over the tops of the cocktails.
For the history of the painkiller cocktail and a recipe that yields 2 cocktails, here's one from Pusser's
Serves: A crowd
Tip: Place all your ingredients in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before mixing.
- 42 oz Coco Lopez
- 1 bottle dark rum (preferably Pusser's brand)
- 1/2 bottle light rum
- 42 oz pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish
- In a gallon jug, mix all the liquid ingredients together.
- Pour into glasses, garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and serve over ice.