Rehoboth vs. New York City: Who’s the cocktail king?

September 19, 2013
The magical "Tortuga" at The Rum House in New York City. BY FOODIE

Last week I had the opportunity to combine business with pleasure in New York City. Actually, much of my business turns out to be pleasure – after all, I get to write about restaurants! As excruciating as that might sound, this trip it was all about bars. See the pain and suffering I endure for my Beach Paper readers?

Over the years I’ve written about so many of our esteemed bartenders here at the beach, and I have a lot of admiration for the likes of Bee Neild, David Engel, Geno Harris, Kymmr Barker, Johnny Farquhar, Andrew Thomas, Mimi LeVasseur, Ginger Breneman … just to name a few. So it only seemed right to see first-hand how we measure up to the mixology magnates of the Big Apple. After all, there’s a fair amount of sipping that goes on in Manhattan … well – duh – they did name a cocktail after the place!

As I trudged from bar to bar (all the while reminding myself that this was business…) one of the chemists who stood out from the crowd was Brennan Sweeney, barkeep at The Rum House, the pub in the historic Edison Hotel on 47th between 8th and Broadway. Like many of our bartenders here in Rehoboth Beach, Brennan takes a lot of pride in what he does, which explains his frown of disapproval when I ordered my undeniably boring Kettle One and tonic. In place of my ho-hum potion, Sweeney delivered a “Tortuga,” which roughly translates to: Roller coaster in your mouth! Spicy ginger and cinnamon were mulled and mixed with aged rum and three kinds of citrus, then topped with a startlingly fiery slice of candied ginger. He put other stuff in there too, but when asked, he would admit to only one ingredient: “A whole lotta love.” Serves me right for asking. The Tortuga was delightful, and I now have even more respect for the guys and girls who mix, stir, shake, mull, slice, blend, squeeze, infuse, crush, crack, drizzle and pour right here at home. Sure, the Big Apple is the undisputed granddaddy of mixological history. But our sandy little corner of Delaware definitely holds its own when it comes to creating potent treats for the thousands who belly up to our bars every season.

The Rehoboth Foodie is the author of the popular iPhone and Android travel app, Rehoboth In My Pocket. Arrive as a Visitor, Live Like a Local! Contact at

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    The Foodie is also the author of the popular iPhone and Android travel app, Rehoboth In My Pocket available at iTunes and Google Play. Arrive as a Visitor, Live Like a Local! Contact at