Located 150km east of the main curve of the Caribbean Islands, Barbados is where many of us get the first taste of the wonderful Caribbean islands. And for good reason with temperatures that remain around 28 degrees Celsius, wonderful white sandy beaches, incredibly friendly people, an incredible selection of villas in Barbados and then of course there is the Rum!
The chances are that your introduction to rum in Barbados will be when you first arrive at your villa(will you villa be one of our Top 10 villas in Barbados?) and you are greeted at the door by your beaming warm and friendly House keeper with a tray full of colourful cocktails that initially look pretty innocent but will definitely get you straight into the holiday mood!!
But the best place to drink rum is of course at a rum shack and Barbados has almost 1500 of them sprinkled across the island. That’s an awful lot for an island that is only 19 miles long and 6 miles wide. Hanging out at a rumshack is arguably one of the best things to do in Barbados.
Many of the Barbados rum shacks are family owned for generations and are supported by the local distilleries who have their posters decorating them. Most of the rum shacks are not tourist bars so don’t expect any luxury. In fact the appeal is to dress down and enjoy the rough and ready atmosphere. You will find plastic chairs, pin up calendars and rows and rows of bottles lined up with lots of weird and wonderful concoctions. The names are wonderfully Bajan – The watering hole, Bombas, Vernon’s cosy bar to name but a few..
The first thing to know is that you can only order rum by the bottle but a lot of the local manufactures produce different sized bottles with names such as pint and flask. The second thing is that it will not be long before you will be chatting with some of the other customers. And expect anything and anyone – from local Rastafarians to local politicians.
You might even bump into Simon Cowell or Wayne and Colleen Rooney who spend much of their holiday time in Barbados. The most important part is that you do some ”limin”. Like the Irish word Craic (having great fun), the word lime means passing the time, having a chat with plenty of banter.
Here are a few Rum shacks on the West Coast in St James where most of our luxury villas in Barbados are located that we consider worth a visit.
Really centrally located just below Gibbs Beach and beside the well known and upmarket Lone Star restaurant. Read more about the Lone Star Restaurant in my guide to dining in Barbados. They even share a car park. Ramshackle is an unpretentious watering hole providing all the basic necessities of life!! Order some Mount Gay 12 year old rum and Coke and enjoy the incredible view.
Rum Shack at Westmoreland
If your preference is to start with a more sophisticated experience of a rum shack, try the rum shop at Royal Westmoreland. Even though it is more touristy than the traditional shack, it does play homage to the local traditional Bajan rum and gives you a feel for the great atmosphere.
Chris’s Place and Bar
Chris’s Place is very rustic and has an amazing atmosphere. It is pretty small and limited in space and you can expect to sit on plastic seats. It is fully of locals and is famous for its ribs but does offer fantastic fish too. Chris’s Place is located just inland slightly from Gibb’s Beach in Rock Dundo.
Lexies is located in Oistin’s Fish Market to the north of St James in St Peters. During the week, you will find the local fishermen discussing the current fishing climate. It is a great place at the weekend when the whole fish market becomes one big party.
If you are looking for the perfect authentic rum moment whilst you are on vacation in Barbados, head to the East coast of the island. Not only it is the most captivating part of the island, it is also the least touristy and therefore you will get the real deal. Here the rum shacks are strategically placed at road junctions and viewpoints.
Try Grantley’s shop which is located in Bath Hill St John. It is half bar and half convenience store. This is the type of place where the locals come to buy some washing up liquid but stay for a quick glass of local Eclipse rum!
Grantley’s Shop also has a wonderful and ancient duke box from the seventies.
For just a few cents, you can listen to Elvis or some more locally inspired Reggae and Calypso. When you step outside, the view across the sugar fields and the crashing Atlantic waves will be even better then when you arrived!!
Ollie’s Famous Secret Rum Punch Recipe
- 1 measure of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 measures of sugar syrup
- 3 measures of dark Mount Gay Barbados Rum – the older the better
- 4 measures of water
- A dash of Angostura bitters and some freshly grated nutmeg
Start by creating the syrup. Place two measure of brown sugar into a pan with a little water and cook until the sugar has melted.
Add the dark rum and water. Ollie’s secret ingredient is to change the water for passion fruit juice.
Serve with plenty of ice, a dash of bitters, some fresh fruit and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg.
We at Exceptional Villas are big fans of Barbados and you can read more about this Caribbean paradise in our Essential Barbados Travel Guide.