best bars key west

We’ve Got A Lot To Drink About

On any given Thursday night in Key West, the spirited staff from Margaritaville don their domestic caps and assume the laid-back lifestyle that our island is known for; walking the beach, applauding the sunset, lounging poolside or in my case, hoping to hell I don’t fall out of the hammock as I dose off….again.

But last Thursday was different, last Thursday was better, last Thursday the sun set a little slower, last Thursday Jimmy Buffett was in town.

We got the word on Wednesday and even though we were sworn to secrecy, by 8PM the following evening a throng of locals were choking the 500 block of Duval. I’m not sure how they all knew because I told my friends not to tell anyone. But no worries, this time there was a list, a VIP list I suppose you could say and we were all on it. This time Jimmy saw to it that the employees were in first, seated first, and had a drink in hand…first. Of course we had to pay for the drink(s) but being on the list is, at the risk of sounding cliché, priceless.

Jimmy had spent the week in CMA Musician of the Year Mac McAnally’s Muscle Shoals recording studio working on new songs. The current state of the country prompted our troubled troubadour to take pen in hand and put his spin on the state of the union, noting in particular that "we have a lot to drink about.” And since drinking was involved, what better place than Key West to premier the new song.

Key West’s current living legend embodies the spirit of our islands infamous forerunners in the guise of shipwreck salvors, road weary writers and bar owners; it’s safe to say that best-selling author Jimmy Buffett has certainly found treasure in Margaritaville. So he and Mac came into town on Lincoln’s Birthday to share the new song, spend some time with old friends and favor the Margaritaville crew with Key West classics, the songs we know by heart.

Tryin’ to reason with hurricane season while reminiscing over lost landmarks and cousins who’ve crossed over, Jimmy took us all on a nostalgia trip that I for one, at times, wish was one-way. The past is so pleasant, the memories so malleable, the beer is too cold the daiquiris too fruitiful….but I digress. Jimmy played the good old songs for over an hour, recorded a video of “We've Got A Lot To Drink About” that is probably already on YouTube, gave a heartfelt thanks to partners and supporters and then told the staff, “…you don’t have to go to work tomorrow!”

The economy is in a bad way, my 401(K) took a hit, and the ATM machine kept my card, but this is one night that I can truly say that it pays to work at Margaritaville. So despite Jimmy’s verbal permission slip and the protestations of the morning shift, Friday morning its bidness as usual. But in our case, usual is pretty special.

PHOTO: Rob O'Neal