Bloody Marys on the Block Island Ferry

Rob Anthony mixes up an iconic drink on deck


Sail away with Jamestown native Rob Anthony as he whips up a legendary Bloody Mary. His quick wit and funny signs will have you looking forward to the boat ride home.

How did you end up bartending on-board the Block Island Ferry?
It’s not as awesome of a story as I would have liked. Two years ago, I was waiting tables in Newport. I saw the ad on Craigslist, applied and here I am - bartending year-round on one of their five boats.

There’s more than one ferry?
Yes, two of them are high-speed boats, each one with an indoor bar. The other three are the traditional big boats so to speak, these are equipped with two bars each. Out of all the boats, only one of the “traditional” boats has an outdoor top deck; this is the year-round boat.

Any difference between bartending on land versus on sea?
I don’t see a lot of familiar faces and we have very little repeat clientele. In the wintertime, it’s mostly the locals traveling on board. During the summer, it’s high volume.

Tell me about the legendary Block Island Ferry Bloody Mary.
The owners pride themselves on their own secret recipe mix. It’s nothing extremely complicated nor does it have any surprising ingredients. Everything is perfectly balanced. It’s so delicious that I’ll just drink the mix virgin with my sandwich. If you catch us in a rush, you can sometimes catch us making the mix in front of you on the fly. It’s always garnished with olives, lemon, lime and celery. We also make a Spicy Beefy Bloody Mary - made with Absolut Peppar with a stick of beef jerky on top of everything I just mentioned.

Besides a Bloody Mary, what’s a cocktail a passenger must order when onboard? The most tropical drink - a Dark n’ Stormy.

What else are you pouring?
We have a pretty good beer list, a few different types of wines and 30 different types of liquors. We have a very robust drink list with almost 40 cocktails. I’d be lying if I said I had every one. It’s the same list yearly with a featured bartender’s choice special.

What’s your special?
I’m a big fan of Swedish Fish. I’ll make it with Citrus vodka, cranberry, grenadine, triple sec, lime garnish and float some Swedish Fish on it. I’ll post a fun sign with a drawing stating, “May or may not contain real fish from Sweden.” I’ve developed the reputation for having the most fun signs. I take the sign to the next level, although my penmanship is reminiscent of a 3rd grader with a crayon.

What’s a seaworthy cocktail for captains to make onboard their own boats this summer?
Aloha Screwdriver - made with vodka, coconut rum, and equal parts of orange and pineapple juices.

What’s your signature cocktail?
I call it the “Bill Cosby” because it tastes just like Jello. It’s made with vodka, cran- strawberry juice and a secret liqueur.

What’s proper ferry bar etiquette?
Bring cash and don’t expect to be served until we are in transit. The ferry is not equipped with ATMs, wifi or credit card machines. We’re not allowed to sell alcohol while the boat is docked; only when at sea. Don’t cut the line and rest yourself on the counter next to me thinking I’ll skip everyone. I will look at the last person in line and serve ten more customers before I get to you.

What’s your favorite thing about the island?
They’ve done an absolute outstanding job of keeping out corporations and that ritzy lifestyle you find in other island destinations. Block Island still has a very historic and family-style feel. Even the ferry is a family-owned company. The owners and employed family are always here. There’s no corporate office that they hide behind. If you need them for anything, they are always present and accommodating.

What are you doing when you’re on land?
I play bass in a reggae funk band called James and The Giants; we play covers and write original music. I also volunteer for the Tillinghast Pond Management Area when I can; I help maintain the trails and areas.

Block Island Ferry. 304 Great Island Road Narragansett 783-7996.