Sunset Beach Bar, St. Maarten
DEEP BACKGROUND: Two years ago, Louis Bene -- owner of Stan's Sports Bar outside New York's Yankee Stadium -- was vacationing on St. Maarten and found a bar with location (on the beach), location (facing the sunset), location (dramatically situated at the end of a runway). He bought it.
CAST OF CHARACTERS: Beach people populate the bar all day, and gamblers from nearby casinos stop by to celebrate their winnings or forget about their losses. As the sun dips, the crowd grows, with a good mix of locals and tourists hanging out to toast the splashdown before heading to dinner. Once a month, local Harley riders roar in on their chrome ponies and kick-start the party.
DIVERSIONS: While Sunset Beach Bar offers plenty to do -- watching for the green flash (yes, it's real) the instant the sun disappears, jamming to local bands Tuesday through Sunday, sunbathing and swimming in the bay -- the most popular activity has to be hoping that someone wanders down the beach and doesn't notice an approaching jumbo jet until it's a few feet above his head. Sunset Beach Bar is the world's best place for drinkers to sit and watch planes land and take off. And the more you drink, the closer the planes appear.
SUSTENANCE: No need to party on an empty stomach here. The oceanfront grill has a good, basic bar menu -- burgers and hot dogs -- along with more exotic fare like swordfish sandwiches and teriyaki chicken.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Every day there's a $1 shooter special; beers are always $2 and well drinks $3. Sunday sees the biggest crowds, with people on the beach and at the bar all day. The planes start landing around noon; the bar stays open until about 11 p.m. Ladies with no inhibitions will find that their tabs disappear along with their tops. And if the daring damsels want the full treatment, the staff will be happy to let them jump on the indoor swing and be raised above the crowd so they can take their shots in style.
TRY THIS AT HOME:
"BBC" Banana Baileys Colada
Half a banana
1 oz. Coco López
1 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. Baileys Irish creme
Blend with 3 scoops of ice and serve.
Posted online 03/25/04.