Spirited Inspiration: The Dolphin Head

Inspired by the big city bartenders who created iconic New York-centric cocktails like the classic Manhattan, LOCAL Life Magazine and

Rollers Wine & Spirits have leaped to the challenge of creating and adapting cocktail recipes to celebrate Hilton Head area landmarks, events, and founding fathers.  

The Inspiration:  Dolphin Head    

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Tucked inside Hilton Head Plantation - on the island's "Achilles Heel"- is one of the island's greatest natural treasures.  

The geography of Dolphin Head beach (also known as the "Ghost Beach") is dynamic: it's shoreline has retreated as relentless tidal currents in Port Royal Sound have pushed the beach onto at least one hundred yards of once fertile fields at the nearby salt marsh. At high tide this strand of beach is only a few yards wide.

At low tide, vast gray sand flats appear. The landscape is a gallery of things past: bleached live oak logs, clumps of ancient marsh grass, tidal pools that lure shorebirds, and mysterious odd blocks encrusted with oyster shells. These were tabby cement footings on the renowned Myrtle Bank Plantation. Here William Elliot was the first to cultivate the long-staple sea island cotton. What is now beach contained over one thousand acres of fluffy sea island cotton for Myrtle Bank, which brought great wealth to Hilton Head Island planters before the Civil War washed away the plantation economy, and the rising sea level washed away the Elliot's mansion. Elliot himself drowned in the tumultuous current here.  

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In more recent drama, Dolphin Head served as an emergency landing strip when a pilot and passenger, coming back to Hilton Head Island from a trip, were forced to make an emergency landing on the 11th fairway of Dolphin Head Golf Course on April 7, 2016, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office news release. There were no reports of injuries.  

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Then, of course, there was Hurricane Matthew.

Dolphin Head and accompanying Pine Island Beach took a major hit. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the plantation's application to place additional sand on Pine Island Beach, and to install a boardwalk from the Dolphin Head Recreation area to the Pine Island Ithmus.  

The dynamic evolution of Dolphin Head deepens its unique, almost mythic, allure.  

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 The Cocktail:  

The Dolphin Head      

One of the most beautiful spots in the low country deserves a toast!

  • 1½ oz local botanical gin, such as Bulrush or Hat Trick

  • 1 oz real English sloe gin (like Hayman's or Plymouth)

  • ½ oz crème de cassis

  • ½ oz strained lemon juice

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir vigorously for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle a scant pinch of sea salt on top if desired.