BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday July 22, 2013 – You could say it all started in 1752 when George Washington visited Barbados. He was looking for a place to help brother, Lawrence, recover from TB; and found a paradise sweetened with rum.
Skip to Gadsby’s Tavern in old Town Alexandria and the story goes that a more mature George believed that the reward for good soldiering was a daily Rum Punch.
Today, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum holds an annual Rum Punch Challenge in honour of the United States of America’s first president. The challenge is an educational fund raiser for the museum, currently restoring the tavern’s Ice Well. A friendly and diligent team runs the museum with the guidance of Director Liz Williams.
While on vacation during summer 2012, Roger Goddard and family stumbled upon Gadsby’s Tavern and asked if they could participate in the upcoming 2013 Rum Punch challenge. On April 3, Roger, proprietor of Barbados’ own little tavern, Cutters of Barbados, set off, armed with the Bajan legacy ~ 1 of sour 2 of sweet 3 of strong 4 of weak…. Also included in the journey were 200 flying fish and some seasoning.
In Old Town Alexandria, Mark and Nina Simon (regular visitors to Barbados) graciously offered to host Roger’s trip. Their kitchen became a lime squeezing facility and before too long Rick & Lindsey Goddard (who had honeymooned recently in St. Philip and are now adopted cousins) showed up to assess the punch. “Needs more rum….” Once that was settled the kitchen turned to preparing flying fish fingers. It is a wonderful adaptation of our delicacy to easily cut along the meat strips produced during the filleting process. At 6:45pm the kitchen’s a mess – but the Cutters team is ready.
About 7pm the Rum Punch challengers and guests arrive upstairs in Gadsby’s Tavern. The historic building’s narrow staircase, wooden floorboards, and speaker’s balcony lend a genuine warmth to the delayed spring evening.
The Cutters table is obviously Bajan; thanks to our Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Simone Rudders’ planting the Broken Trident amid nutmeg and souvenirs. Ambassador John Beale enjoyed the scene too, meeting a good set of honorary and native Bajans. In-law David, from Annapolis showed up; followed by Bill & Suzanne Noonan who ran American Airlines in Barbados 30 years ago; now Fred & Flo Goddard’s clan: son Bruce with wife Valerie, and daughter Carol with her daughter Charlotte. Mike & Tracey (college buds from Baltimore), Emma Kenny (a regular to Crane Beach) and her beau, Amaoury – with friends on weekend excursion from Manhattan; of course Rick & Lindsey are in for official re-tasting.
Our first new taster is from New Orleans. “Well you should try the flying fish and hot sauce dip.” Not two minutes later comes another friend – “may I have a taste, not too much, no ice , I don’t want to get tipsy.” Quickly the word spreads. Cutter’s table is busy as Brighton farmer’s market, and a line is forming. Stories abound: “what’s that you sprinkle on top?” (nutmeg) – what’s a flying fish? (trying to escape a bigger fish) where’s Barbados (paradise.) Fond memories also surface as tasters reminisce about their visits to Bim – one couple asking to be remembered to their wedding photographer, Felix Carr.
With 45 minutes remaining we run out of punch. Uncle Dave is tasked to scout more rum – success – placing the bottle in a customer’s hand “just pour all of it in the bowl” “now you pour this lime juice….. ok, now you pour this syrup.” With some crowd participation there’s another 1.5 gallon batch (during this intermission cousin Charlotte is walking up the queue offering flying fish to the waiting tasters.) We’re back in business…. just shy of closing bids we empty the last half-glass which goes to Uncle Bill Noonan – he’s been a good sport in true family-hold-back tradition.
At 9:30pm a well-oiled crowd gathers as an 18th century-garbed town crier announces best in category for contributing punches – all fine drinks in their own right. Two contributors are asked to join in a winner’s announcement – and only one will receive the Blue Ribbon. By unanimous vote Cutters’ VSRP is awarded the night’s prize. There can be no better reward for working to create a premium product, delivering consistent quality, taking on a challenge, and bringing home the title for Barbados.
Cutters of Barbados is a family delicatessen at Crane Beach, St. Philip, owned and operated by Roger and Kim Goddard (the creator of Cutters’ very special rum punch ~ VSRP™) Taking its name from a great sandwich, Cutters extends the Bajan traditional menu with West Indian and international influences. The business was formed in 2006 and with a charter to extend Barbados’ community beyond our shores. Visit ~ www.cutters.bb