Key West Magazine November 2007 : Cover

bars “Some people stay here so long they can’t ever go back. they never grow up,” says bartender Laura Rolston while pouring her classic margarita. Bartender Laura Rolston reminisces about the old days of Key West The Way We Were W e’ve been warned upon entering Half Shell Raw Bar early one wednesday afternoon that “she’s a ham,” but that proves an extreme understatement when we meet bartender Laura rolston. For the next hour, rolston is a one-woman show, entertaining us with stories of her stint as “Iowa Cowgirl Queen” at the age of 16 (armed with a tiara and chaps), her travels from new Jersey to St. Thomas, her love for Lyle Lovett and finally her affection for lAurA’S SPeCiAl Drink How to make Laura’s Margarita 2/3 Shot Jose Cuervo 1800 tequila 1/3 Shot triple Sec 1 Fresh-squeezed Lime Splash of orange Juice Splash of Club Soda Splash of grand Marnier Pour shots of Cuervo and Triple Sec in shaker filled with ice. Add fresh-squeezed lime juice, splash of orange juice and splash of club soda. Shake. Pour in glass over ice, add a splash of Grand Marnier on top and serve. Half Shell and Key west (which she refers to as “neverland”). The fiercely loyal bartender has been in Key west and at Half Shell for 14 years—and that’s something to brag about given the island’s transitory lifestyle. “It’s a unique bar,” she says. “It’s got an eclectic feel to it. a lot of people come all the way down here every year just to come to Half Shell for happy hour. They know us by name. we know them by name.” The historic bar—a former shrimp-packing building off Caroline Street—is lined with old license plates customers have left over the years, as well as long pic- nic tables and benches overlooking the harbor. “when I started working here, none of these other buildings were here,” rolston says nostalgically. “There were still shrimpers out back. You could walk here to the electric plant. There was nothing but this little shack.” The one-time television and film production student discovered Key west after a particularly cold winter in new Jersey. “I moved here for a season and pretty much never left . . . I got here on the tail end of all the fun people. You know, there were still the folklore and the legendary people. I got lucky by meeting them before they left.” but after another one of her stories and her loud, infectious laugh, we’d argue that rolston may just be one of those “fun people,” in which case they are still very much here. —Emmy Nicklin 231 Margaret St., Key West; (305) 294- 7496. Open 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday- Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday. november 2007 key west magazine 63 photogRaph By JESSICa taLLEy

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