The crowd at Emeril Lagasse and Sammy Hagar's Rockin' Beach Party was electric with anticipation. Would Hagar, a '80s rock icon, really sing Led Zeppelin? Would Jason Bonham play drums during the set? Does the Red Rocker still have great hair?
Since the answers wouldn't be divulged until 11 p.m., people contented themselves with eating Elena Ruz sandwiches and chicken empanadas from Versailles restaurant and drinking Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Tequila and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum under the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's party tent that was transformed into what can only be described as "electric tiki."
Neon-bright palm trees towered over the masses snacking on croquetas, playing volleyball and bocce, or sipping on libations.
From crisp Strongbow cider served on the rocks to Amstel Light to plenty of rum and tequila served as shots and shooters, there were multiple ways to drink like a rock star.
The best spirit of the evening was Hagar's own Red Head. This ruby-colored rum is flavored with macadamia nuts, tropical fruits, and vegetables.
Emeril's contribution to the evening, a cocktail called the Sand Dollar, was custom shaken. Made with Sammy's Beach Bar rum, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime, Monin almond syrup, and Fee Brothers bitters, it was a sweet, pink liquid confection.
If you were looking for Mr. Lagasse once Hagar took the stage, you'd only have to glance over at the stairs off stage left, where the chef remained the entire time, singing along to his buddy and acting like a total groupie.
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Speaking of groupies, when the band started playing, all food and drink was immediately forgotten as the Red Rocker lived up to his name, belting out a mix of his best like "I Can't Drive 55," "Right Now," "Finish What You Started," and "Why Can't This be Love," along with some classic Zeppelin like "Been a Long Time." After a particularly long and intricate solo, Jason Bonham pointed up at the sky in a touching tribute to his father John Bonham, one of the greatest drummers in rock 'n' roll history.
At the end of the set, Emeril rushed the stage to give his friend a bear hug as the audience roared with delight. Hagar proved that he can still rock with the best of them. And his hair? Like his voice, it "stood the test of time."