The Best Boat Drink

Check out the winning entry in our Ultimate Boat Drink Contest presented by Regatta Ginger Beer.
Boat Drink contestant

Boat Drink Contest

The winning cocktail (second from right) and a few of the other finalists for the Regatta Ginger Beer Boat Drink Contest.

“Wow. That went down way too easy.”

Those were the very words that popped into my head after sampling the winning entry in our Ultimate Boat Drink Contest presented by Regatta Ginger Beer. In fact, that darned cocktail went down so quick I reached for of another of the shot-size plastic sample cups to be sure I wasn’t just thirsty.

Yep. The second went down just as easy. And left me wanting more.


Could it be? Would it stand up against the now ubiquitous Dark n’ Stormy?

Oh yes. Most definitely.

The Red Sky at Night is a worthy, and possibly even superior, rival, if only it weren’t for its key, but hard-to-find essential ingredient: purple basil. I do, however, know this easy-to-grow herb will be making its way into my home garden next summer.


The Red Sky’s mixologist Mark Gillespie reminds us that common green basil will not work as a substitute, so unless you like drinking your pesto, don’t even try it. The Red Sky’s essence seems to be drawn from the purple basil’s mildly spicy flavors—there are hints of clove and cinnamon—which somehow soothe the desired bite of the all-natural Regatta Ginger Beer. When the two ingredients meet juice of lemon and white rum, there’s magic in that glass.

Red Sky at Night

While our in-house mixologist and web editor Eleanor Lawson gave our sample batch a light muddling, we could never achieve the red hue to match the picture submitted with the recipe (above), and try as we might on the second batch (just to be sure we had a winner), we failed again. But no matter, the second attempt went down just as quick as the first, and when the taster rankings were collected the Red Sky at Night was the runaway winner.


Gillespie says it’s the perfect drink for the cockpit after a day’s sail, and we couldn’t agree more: It’s a no-fuss, minimalist thirst-quencher of a cocktail, and whereas the other superb sailor’s drink evokes images of a rough passage at sea, I prefer the vision of a soothing dusk and the knowledge that the next day’s sail will be a delight.

The author mixes up the next round.

The Winning Recipe:


Red Sky at Night Cocktail Recipe

  • 8-12 leaves purple basil (~4g)
  • 1.5 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice – crushed
  • 2 oz white/light rum
  • 4 oz Regatta Ginger Beer
  • Ice cubes (Crushed or cubes)
  • Purple basil sprigs & lemon wedge for garnish

In a sturdy lowball glass, add purple basil leaves, lemon juice and a layer of crushed ice. Muddle in glass until leaves are crushed and liquid has a reddish tint. Add rum and stir of 30 seconds. Add Regatta Ginger Beer. Garnish. Flavor intensifies over the next few minutes.

Best enjoyed in the cockpit of a sailboat after a great day on the water.

Mixologist’s Note: Purple basil is key. Green basil will not work as a substitute.

Submitted by Mark Gillespie.

View all the finalists here.