Caribbean Club employees showed framed pictures of Jimmy Buffet like this one posted on the Crib’s Facebook having drinks. CARIBBEAN CLUB/Via Facebook

I usually sleep through the night without fail. However, last Friday I fell asleep on the couch and was jolted awake by some thunder. 

I got up to get some water and headed off to bed when I thought about checking my phone to see what time it is. It was 3 a.m. A notification caught my eye, something Jimmy Buffett. I almost didn’t click it as JB and Margaritaville updates were nothing new on my phone. I listen to Radio Margaritaville daily, I’ve had my own show on the same channel, I frequent the resorts, I have cookbooks and shirts and I’ve just loved that man since I was little. I thought I’ll just click it really quick, and boom. I saw the news. 

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Jimmy Buffett had passed. 

I searched on every outlet I could find to make sure it wasn’t a hoax. The tears started at 3:06 a.m. and didn’t stop for what seemed like 24 hours. Since then, they’ve been on and off as reality comes and goes. There’s a handful of people who have given me crap: How could I cry over someone I didn’t know? When the sun came up and the world heard the news, I saw the hundreds of thousands of people posting on all the Margaritaville groups expressing the same reaction to his passing as me. I turned on Radio Margaritaville on Siriusxm and could hear the host Kirsten talking through her tears and sniffles. Soon, the Florida-based host JD hopped on. 

Caribbean Club employees showed framed pictures of Jimmy Buffet like this one posted on the Crib’s Facebook having drinks. CARIBBEAN CLUB/Via Facebook

You can tell he was holding back emotion and tried to keep things from getting too sad. I knew I wasn’t alone. Even the famous Barstool Sports and pizza connoisseur, Dave Portnoy, published a heartfelt article. He said he felt as if he lost a family member and even he couldn’t stop crying. It hit the nail on the head for me. I felt like I’d lost a family member. Jimmy Buffett and his brand have been a part of nearly every sandbar weekend, vacation, clothing and meal in my life since I can remember. I’ve always been embraced by fellow Parrot Heads and made fun of by those who weren’t JB fans. But I didn’t care; I shouted from the rooftops every chance that I got that I loved Margaritaville. 

Around 4:30 p.m. I was sipping some Gatorade trying to replenish the electrolytes my tears had taken. I saw an old picture of JB at the Caribbean Club on Facebook. What a perfect place to have my first 5 o’clock somewhere in his honor. I gathered myself and headed out the door with Mark. When I walked in I was so surprised to see all the others there with the same idea. Five o’clock hit, everyone raised their glasses and the Crib blasted Jimmy Buffett hits. Everyone in unison shouted the famous lyric “What would Jimmy Buffett do?”

Caribbean Club employees walked around showing us pictures they had framed of when JB had a few drinks at the Crib himself. It really felt like the perfect way to honor him. I imagined it was the exact vibe he loved, all Keysy easy peasy. No frills. 

Now I’m no newbie and I’ve spent my fair share of time at the Crib. I’ve always seen it as a simple place for simple drinks like a beer or a Jack and Coke. It felt risky to me to order a margarita at the crib. Little did I know James William Buffett was about to send me a little gift from the heavens. One of the best darn freaking margaritas I’ve ever had in my life … at the Caribbean Club no less. I couldn’t believe it. The bartender who just knocked this drink out of the park goes by the name of Bruce. I let him know I’m going to name this drink the “Bruce-a-rita” so he knows to make it exactly the same for those who request it. 

He starts with Patron, a little Triple Sec, orange juice, lime, the smallest little bit of sour mix and finally some Grand Marnier. Bruce gives it all a good shake and pours it into a fresh sugar rimmed cup. I tell you it was easily one of the top three margaritas of my life. No artificial taste. No acid reflux an hour later. Not too sweet at all. It tasted like a real margarita, definitely a new go-to for me. I actually haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I had it. 

Thank you Jimmy, for guiding me to the Crib for one of the best margs of my life and thank you, Bruce, for putting so much effort into making the perfect cocktail. Stop by the Caribbean Club, make sure Bruce is working and ask for a “Bruce-a-rita.” Check out the Jimmy Buffett pictures and give the big man up above a toast. 

As Jimmy said about the Crib, “It was a bar like many others and then it wasn’t.” Fins up, Parrot Heads.

Samantha Dellilo has been in the Keys since she was 1 day old, so definitely consider her a Conch. Holding a passion for food since she can remember, while most kids were watching Barney, she was watching Emeril. "Being half Cuban and half Italian, food in those cultures is considered a love language. It's a total experience whether eating out or cooking." She's been with her other half, Marky, going on 17 years. The two met when they were 9 years old at Key Largo School. Samantha owns Florida Keys Eats, which is a blog of "must eat, must see, and must dos" from Key Largo to Key West.