Since 1932, the Swizzle Inn has been welcoming guests (first-timers and repeat visitors) with fresh-made food and their infamous jugs of Rum Swizzle. For anyone not in the know, Swizzle is a cocktail made from a combination of rum and fruit juices and is notorious for going down easy, and leaving you...happy. The perfect "welcome back/home", if you will. There are many variations on the Island - everyone has their own take - but the most famous of the Swizzles is, without a doubt, found at the Swizzle Inn. More on the Swizzle later.
While there are two Swizzle Inns (the second on South Road in Warwick), we chose to visit the original - the Swizzle Inn Bailey's Bay. Situated in a 17th century roadhouse, the Swizzle Inn is full of history. It's not fancy, and the completely casual atmosphere allows you to check all forms of stuffy conservatism at the gate, and kick back and relax on the upper or lower patios. But if you choose to dine outdoors, be sure to check out the inside pub area. If you're armed with a marker, a business card, or basically any way of leaving an "I was here" mark, your name can be immortalised with the many thousands of others who Swizzled their way into eternity.
Even more nostalgic? Check out the guestbooks piled up above the fireplace. They date back to the 1930s and are full of limericks, poems, Bermuda memories and amusing anecdotes from memorable Swizzle meals, signed by visitors from all over the world. You can sit there with your Swizzle and page through history - an awesome way to spend a rainy afternoon, by the way. The current year's guestbook is on the bar, if you feel like contributing!
OK, enough about that. You get the picture. It's a cool spot.
Onto the food.
The Swizzle Inn's menu has something for everyone. Like we said before, it's not fancy. But the food is reliably good (especially after a long day in the sun), and they are easily able to accommodate most types of eaters. The staff are friendly and will make recommendations if you ask.
We were kind of feeling the fish sandwich on this visit, and whether you're a health nut, a traditionalist, a sampler or an adventurous eater, they have your fish sandwich bases covered.
Making healthy choices? First up is the Sea Breeze Fish Sandwich
Fresh, grilled wahoo fillets lightly seasoned and served on multigrain toast with lettuce and tomato, served with tartar sauce and lemon on the side. Add to that sriracha ('cause we like it spicy) and to keep it healthy, a salad on the side instead of fries (though if you have to have the fries to counteract the healthy sandwich, just ask). Bang! A pretty much guilt-free fish sandwich lunch. One thing to watch though, is with wahoo and grilling, it can get dried out. This one didn’t suffer from over-grilling but it has been known to happen.
If you want a more, traditional fish sandwich, you want THIS one. The Back’o’Town Fish Sandwich
Fresh fried seasoned and battered Northern Atlantic Cod fillets (not the cheap farmed ish) piled high on a bun covered with spicy cole slaw. Served with tartar sauce, and fries on the side. As traditional and equally; as good as it gets.
In the mood for something fish sandwichish but not an actual fish sandwich? Here's an option that is a little different - the Wahoo burger. Technically not a fish sandwich…but there is fish and there is bread…meh…let’s call it a sandwich. A Swizzle Inn original, this wahoo version of a burger is made with ground fresh wahoo, cilantro, lime and ginger. Quite tasty indeed. (Cilantro is an ingredient not often seen in Bermuda dishes (and has a flavor that you either like or you do NOT), and it pairs well with ginger). Again, this one can fall victim to being dried out from over-grilling. It’s definitely worth a try, but you have been advised! On the day we visited, it was cooked perfectly.
Special mention to one we didn't have room for on this visit but which definitely deserves a spot on the list...bring your appetite if you’re considering the Swizzle original…The Bailey’s Bay Fish sandwich. The menu description starts out: "A ‘huge’ sandwich...". Not just grilled or seasoned, this masterpiece starts with beer battered fish (fish 'n chips-style), and then they add tomato and melt cheddar on top. Basically this is their "eat-this-then-walk-around-the-parking-lot- three-times-with-a-smile" type of fish sandwich. The person sitting across from you who is the calorie counter at the table will go crazy…and it’ll totally be worth it.
Now fish sandwiches aren’t all Swizzle has on offer...there is something for everyone, remember? Some of the menu highlights (and our favourites) include:
The Dip – hummus served with warm pita triangles that much to our chagrin was off the menu the day we visited (not sure if it’s gone for good or not)
BBQ Chicken Nachos – Nachos smothered with mixed cheeses, jalapeños and black bean & corn salsa (a must try and perfect accompaniment to a table full of friends and those jugs of Swizzle)
Conch Fritters – a tasty, traditional Bahamian treat consisting of fried doughy balls with conch and red and green peppers throughout.
They also have a small but worthwhile list of pizzas (including the option to create your own). Our minds went straight to the last time we tasted the Caprese (white) pizza made with mozzarella, tomato, red onions & fresh basil. It is kissed with a syrupy balsamic reduction and absolutely delicious.
And then there are the wings. We went there for the fish sandwiches, but one of us emphatically stated at the table that “Swizzle Inn Buffalo Wings are the BEST on the Island" (and also noting that we need to do a wings challenge, so stay tuned on that, friends). With an intro like that, what else can be said but “8 wings please!?”
There is no denying it. The Buffalo Wings are off. the. hook. That tangy, spicy heat is perfectly matched with the celery and bleu cheese dressing, and quite honestly none of us has much more to say than that because they were just so freakin' good. They didn't last long. If you're a wing fan, go straight for the basket of 15. But beware...the Buffalo has kick!
The Swizzle Inn also offers up special menus based around certain themes. We went in time to experience the last days of the Canada Day menu which featured one of their limited time offerings; a Grilled Kale Salad, topped with red onion, pecans, orange slices, cranberries and a maple mustard dressing. A combination that landed on the better side of perfect (and has later been attempted - albeit not perfectly - for a recreation at home)! Telling you about it is a bit of a tease as it was a limited offering, but we had to share. It was beautiful and healthy and we think Canadians would be happy to have the association.
Oh right, the Swizzle.
We ordered two pitchers of Swizzle during our visit - the first because it's basically a requirement and the second*.... It's safe to say they have their own recipe, and it isn’t necessarily like the Swizzle you will see or taste many other places. At the same time, it’s consistently good in its own right. And don’t be fooled by the pretty peachy colour and the cute little glasses that you sip from…this Swizzle will go down like fruit juice and then knock you on your rear end at the end of the night if you're not careful. It's strong. As they say at the Swizzle Inn: Swizzle Inn, Swagger Out. Or stagger. Whichever. Buyer be warned.
The Swizzle Inn has a lot going for it, beyond its long history of getting locals and visitors happily "swaggering":
Yes, we provide public service announcements too. You're welcome.
*By the way, our second pitcher was a toast to you, our friends, followers and fans. We’d love to hear from you, so please leave us a comment below or drop us a line.
Your Swizzled friends at Team #biteofbermuda
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