Photo by James Murray II
When you are sailing the salty sea on a vast vessel like the 125-foot Solaris Yacht, moored at the Baytowne Marina at Sandestin, you want a heavyweight who can handle sailors, a motley crew and precocious pirates who may belly up to the bar. The Solaris has Megan Cooper, who goes by “Cooper.”
With certification from the ABC School of Libations, you don’t want to challenge what this 26-year-old Crestview mixologist can sling on the rocks. From her sushi-inspired Cocomoso—an infusion of coconut sake and brut Champagne to Hot Blooded—a ruthless blend of Jameson Irish Whiskey, muddled with fresh jalapeno topped with fresh blood orange juice—Cooper figures she’s got at least a couple hundred creative cocktails filed away in her cranium.
Okay, we’ll spill it. The Solaris isn’t full of wayward pirates and crusty Old Men in the Sea types, it’s a lovely, upscale luxury yacht that is the go-to alternative venue for holiday celebrations, memorable special occasions and weddings on the Emerald Coast. Still, we wouldn’t want to corner Cooper. If she can tame cocktailing at sea, she’s got skills in our book…or captain’s log, as the case may be.
“You definitely have to have your bearings about you,” Cooper says of bartending aboard a boat. “You will be rocking and rolling, so you have to be comfortable with the sea. If I move, my shaker moves with me. I try to have fun with it and have a laugh.”
With seven years in the food and beverage industry—three of those on the Solaris as the beverage director and events coordinator—Cooper has plenty of experience, but her secret ingredient may just be her charm. Approachable with personality, plus she can coax nearly any barfly into trying a new concoction.
“I just talk to them and get a feel for who they are,” she says. “If they like Old Fashioneds, I might say, ‘Try a French 75, it’s got an old-fashioned feel.’”
Aboard the Solaris, the cocktails practically sell themselves. The fellas are hot for the spice in the Hot Blooded, but Cooper says the ladies are partial to the “light and bright” flavors in the Citrus Sunset, a mix of orange vodka, coconut rum, cranberry juice and a splash of pineapple juice.
If you want to charm a delicious precision cocktail from Cooper aboard the sexy Solaris, that’s easily done. Just “be polite, have manners and always order another one.”