The tropics and cocktails have had a long and storied love affair. Rum’s popularity in the West Indies dates back to 1650. We’re talking seriously old! But it wasn’t until the 20th century when “exotics” exploded on the scene in the 1930s when the first tiki bar opened in Hollywood, California. Tropical cocktails reigned supreme through the 1970s, combining the flavors of coconut, citrus, and pineapple. Along with the popularity of exotic libations came other tropical popular culture offshoots such as the vibraphone exotica music of artists such as Martin Denny and Ima Sumac and the bad-assery of Jack Lord and Hawaii Five-0: “Book ’em, Danno!”
Today, beach lovers and those just seeking the beach mentality still thirst for a tropical cocktail. Whether it’s tequila and freshly squeezed lime in the cantina or a Mai Tai at the retro tiki bar, sandy beaches, sunsets, tropical mixed drinks, and craft cocktails simply go together. But the truth is, if we are to be totally honest, there has been little change in the tropical cocktail menu over the decades. Old favorites remain the reliable stalwarts with little evolution or experimentation, despite the contemporary era of unprecedented mixology we are currently enjoying. Craft cocktails have become art, and we are living in the midst of its renaissance.
Enter Mikey Bortone, CEO and co-founder of Watertown Whiskey, to kick up a little sand.
Bortone knows a thing or two about the tropics. As an alum of Survivor: Micronesia—the 16th installment of the perennial CBS fan favorite reality television show—Bortone gets the island vibe and the tropical milieu.
It wasn’t just his time in Micronesia that inspired Bortone to shake up (and stir) the world of tropical drinks, it was his own love of mixology which led him to create the latest splash in cocktail culture: Watertown Whiskey.
The Origin of a New Tropical Classic
One evening after his stint on Survivor and back at his home in Los Angeles, Mikey Bortone discovered a whole new take on the world of tropical cocktails.
After drinking a highball of whiskey, he felt a bit dehydrated and realized he had a taste for a mixed drink. He instinctively reached for a bottle of coconut water, a wellspring of hydration he knew all too well from his days in Micronesia and reality television.
“We had a choice of dirty, warm water from a well,” he told the Los Angeles Daily News, “or crack[ing] open a coconut and be[ing] refreshed.”
And that’s when a tiki torch suddenly lit up in Bortone’s mind. Why not mix the two?
So, entrepreneur and whiskey enthusiast Mikey Bortone began experimenting with different brands of whiskey and different ratios of coconut water. He went with only top shelf materials. In a flurry of iced-up creativity, he nailed it—the perfect fusion of smooth, traditional rye whiskey and coconut flavors to, as Bortone describes it, “create a taste of paradise that you can enjoy with friends or family, whether you’re out at an event or having a nightcap at home.”
And in that moment, Watertown Whiskey was alive!
Ironically named for his non-tropical childhood hometown of Watertown, Massachusetts, Bortone tinkered with a cornucopia of various whiskey recipes until he landed on a low-sugar, 73-proof blend that had enough bite for a good sunset beach buzz, but was also light and refreshing enough for people who are not normally whiskey drinkers. Bortone designed Watertown Whiskey to be savored neat, on the rocks, or mixed in classic whiskey cocktails or tiki drinks.
It was tropical libation culture redefined! This is cocktail culture 2.0 for the 21st century. Until now, no one ever thought of sunsets and sand and whiskey as a go-to cocktail, but mixed with pure, distilled, organic coconut water, the waves are crashing once again and the palm trees are swaying, beckoning craft cocktail lovers to enjoy Watertown Whiskey on the beach or simply in their backyards.
For more information or to find the nearest bottle of tropical coconut paradise, go to www.watertownwhiskey.com.