From late 1934 through the summer of 1935, Ray was a fixture at Auby’s Lagoon, a nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida. In the Miami Tribune, I found dozens of ads and mentions in columns about area nightlife of Ray acting as an MC and performer at the club during that period.
One column, from the January 31, 1935 issue of the Tribune, was a little promotional piece for the club.
“If you like a bar that is a real bar with no fancy trimmings, try Auby’s Lagoon at the Miami Beach end of the Venetian causeway. You can perch on a high stool at the long walnut bar and discuss the events of the week with Jimmy (Dude) Doge, the genial bartender, who knows who’s who and what’s what around town. If you prefer to sit around a table, there are many attractive covered ones overlooking the water.
Tonight is the opening of the new dinner show so if you go you’ll see “Carmen, the Tiger Girl” in a novel whirlwind dance routine and Phylis Sterling, blues singer, with the popular Ray Bourbon, who has been master of ceremonies at Auby’s since its opening.”
The article goes on to suggest you try one of Auby’s signature drinks and gives you the recipe for both.
The first is the “Lagoon Loop”, consisting of 2 ounces Bacardi Rum, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce grenadine, 1 ounce of cream, and the white of an egg.
“This tastes just like an ice cream soda and will certainly make you “loopy”,” the article notes.
The second drink is the “Auby’s Aurora” made with 2 ounces Carioca (white) Rum, 2 ounces Coruba (dark) rum, 1 ounce of lemon juice and a teaspoon of powdered sugar. The ingredients are shaken “briskly”, strained into tall glasses filled with cracked ice, and decorated with fresh fruit.
It’s not often that you find local mixed drink recipes like this and collecting and reviving vintage cocktails has become a whole area of research for retro-mixologists. Many drink recipes were never published, since bartenders and clubs looked at them as proprietary, and they often disappeared as tastes changed and bartenders and bars came and went over time.
The Lagoon Loop is similar to a recipe for a classic Pink Lady, substituting rum for the gin more commonly used in that cocktail. While egg whites aren’t often used in mixed drinks today, it used to be common to add froth and creaminess to a drink. (You can find out more about how to make cocktails with eggs at this site.)
I haven’t found any equivalent to the Auby’s Aurora, but I imagine it had quite a kick with generous shots of both dark and white rum. (A standard pour of alcohol in a contemporary mixed drink is usually 1 1/2 ounces, rather than the 2 ounces called for here. There were hardier livers back in those days.)
I don’t have a specific address for Auby’s Lagoon – the ads and articles mentioned it as being on the Miami Beach end of the Venetian Causeway, so I’m not sure what might be at the location today.
In the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Ray owned his own nightclub, the Hollywood Rendezvous at 1841 North Cahuenga Boulevard. Some time ago, I found an original menu from the club – zoom in on the images below to see what was being served at the bar and the prices. The back of the menu, by the way, mentioned that Ray’s records were for sale at the club.
The menu encourages us to “Try a Ray Bourbon Special” for sixty cents. We don’t know what was in that drink, but it must have been something, since most drinks were about half that price.
Today, the current location of where Ray’s club used to be appears to be a restaurant, the Madera Kitchen, and a cafe, Solar de Cahuenga. To the left of Madera looks like an original building that might have been apartments or a hotel back in Ray’s day.
Ray’s club closed after four years and he and the other investors opened Chez Boheme on the Sunset Strip. In a 1944 piece on Ray in the Brooklyn Eagle, Ray mentioned that he lost money on the club when he wasn’t appearing there.
The Chez Boheme was at 8950 Sunset Boulevard. Google Maps doesn’t show anything but an office complex at the location today; the Roxy Theatre and the Whisky A Go-Go are within a few blocks of the address.