By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
THURSDAY NIGHT is party night on Anguilla, when what seems like half the population of 16,000 on this 34-square-mile isle converges on the seaside village of Sandy Ground.
First stop: the barn-like Pumphouse for live music and a few frosty Caribs. Then, around midnight, when the vibes have mellowed, it’s a two-minute stroll down the street and across the road to Elvis Erin Fleming’s legendary beach bar.
For the last six years, Anguilla’s reigning “king” has presided over his own beachfront tavern, converted from a class C racing sailboat, The Main Event.
The braided proprietor is lanky, laidback and low-key friendly, not the high-energy gregarious character you’d expect to be running a drinkery that’s become not only a local fixture but the favorite local haunt of visiting celebs as disparate as Li’l Wayne, Paris Hilton, Derek Fisher, and Victoria’s Secret models.
But as he whips up a drink from behind the bar, sporting one of his signature baseball jerseys (apparently he has 175 of them; tonight it’s the Phillies’) with his name emblazoned on the back in large red letters, there’s no doubt who’s in charge.
As a wedding party whoops it up at one end of the bar, and tourist couples sway in the shadows on the sand, Elvis agrees to mix me one of the rum punches he claims to be the best on the island. First, a (very) liberal pouring of Ron Cortez white rum; then a mix of orange, pineapple and guava juice; followed by a slug of of amaretto. Garnish with a cherry and orange wedge, and finish with a dusting of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Above: Elvis’ signature punch (Photo by Risee Chaderton)
“You like it?” Elvis asks. I take a sip, and am instantly impressed by its smoothness, and the kick offered by the surprise of cinnamon at the end.
The first one goes down easily. So easily that, uncharacteristically for the lightweight I am, I order another. But then the Christmas lights strung around the bar seem to get blurry; the band’s music sounds a little softer, and my bar stool begins to feel just a teeny bit unsteady. And that’s when I realize: I’ve had a good night on Anguilla. I’ve sashayed to the Pumphouse, and sauntered over to Elvis’. But now its time to stagger home.
Elvis’ is open every day except Tuesdays, from 5pm until the last person leaves (usually 5am). 264-476-0101 or 264-772-0101