We're in line for beers at the Jimmy Buffett concert. We're going get the maximum allowed per person (two) in the hope of minimizing the amount of time we've got to spend here waiting behind men in coconut bras, and maximizing the amount of time spent rocking to songs like "The Weather Is Here, I Wish You Were Beautiful."
And so we're ready to hand over nearly $20 for two large Bud Lights when we see that, under the sand-colored plastic that's posing as straw over the beer stand, they're also hawking Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville's Landshark Lager. Though it identifies itself as a product of the Margaritaville Brewing Co. out of Jacksonville, Florida, a little investigative journalism reveals that this company is, unsurprisingly, an arm of Anheuser-Busch.
At the Verizon Wireless Music Amphitheater, the Landshark Lager comes in a noticeably smaller portion than the large Bud Light, and it's only $2 cheaper. That it's diminutive turns out to be not such a bad thing: For $7, the drink comes in a smallish white souvenir plastic cup logoed with its trademark blue shark fin. We assume that Landshark Lager is meant to horn in on Corona's market by lassoing in people like us who aren't huge fans of Corona in the first place and want to try something summery and different. And to this — and pretty much only this — extent it works.
We think back to the fall, the first time we visited Key West. We don't remember her name, but meeting our first bartender there was exciting for us. Here she was — probably in her sixties, but toned, tanned and bartending. This could completely be us in a few decades, we thought. We asked her what it's like living in this tropical mecca we'd long admired from afar. "I've been living here for 26 years and hated every minute of it." Huh. It turns out she moved to Key West from Pittsburgh with her husband and, from our inferences, it sounds as though the marriage didn't quite pan out.
She worked at Willie T's, the first bar we found open that day in Key West, even though it was almost noon and we were on Duval Street. Which was surprising. Certainly, it could be because the locals just went to bed a few hours prior, and they'd rather have their eyes pecked out by the feral chickens that roam Key West's streets (yes, really) than do battle in their favorite bars with tourists like us just belched from a cruise ship. And we totally get that. But really — nowhere to get a drink before 11 a.m. in Key West? Weak.
"You should definitely go to Margaritaville," our bartender had said when she asked if we were Buffett fans. "Yeah," we said. "It's just that Margaritaville seems like such an inauthentic tourist trap." She assured us that it was and that's why we should go. And go we did, grabbing a couple of magnets and margaritas along the way.
This same forced attempt at being islander is also what ultimately befalls Landshark Lager. Maybe it's different, we think after our first taste of the now bland, warmish beer, if you're drinking it outside on the lido deck of a boat headed to St. Somewhere instead of at a concert. We finish our cup of it and briefly consider giving the Landshark Lager another try later on in the night. But, ugh. We'd rather swim with the fishes.
Got a drink suggestion?