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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jeff 'Beachbum' Berry's tiki bar to open in Bienville House hotel in the French Quarter

Posted By and on Sat, Apr 19, 2014 at 6:18 PM

click to enlarge Jeff "Beachbum" Berry - OLIVIER KONIG
  • Jeff "Beachbum" Berry

Local tiki and tropical drinks expert Jeff "Beachbum" Berry will be opening his first bar, Latitude 29, in the French Quarter this fall. The space, at 321 N. Peters St. in the Bienville House hotel, is currently occupied by Iris, which will be closing at the end of May. Iris proprietors Laurie Casebonne and Ian Schnoebelen will be concentrating on their newer restaurant, Mariza, which opened in the Bywater in 2013.

According to an email sent this afternoon, Latitude 29 will feature two other familiar names from the New Orleans hospitality industry: head bartender and co-general manager Steven Yamada, who has worked at local bars including Bar R'evolution and Tivoli & Lee, and executive chef Chris Shortall of Coquette and Twelve Mile Limit. Berry's wife, Annene Kaye, will serve as the other general manager. Interior design will be by Bosko Hrnjak.

In the email, Berry said:

We feel extremely fortunate to work with a hotel the caliber of the Bienville House; it’s not only an establishment with impeccable standards, but a place we feel personally connected to. Annene and I are one of those couples — there are more of them with each passing year — who were introduced to New Orleans through Tales Of The Cocktail, in our case back in 2005. Our subsequent stays at the Bienville House and our experiences at Iris, which housed one of the first local bars to feature world-class exotic drinks (by then-bartender Alan Walter), both contributed to our love of the city and our desire to make it our home.
Berry, whose newest book is Potions of the Caribbean, also released his second drinks app this week, featuring never-before-printed recipes from the golden age of tiki (including some from the legendary New Orleans restaurant Bali Ha'i; read Gambit's 2010 cover story about the restaurant here) and some new recipes by New Orleans bartenders.

An interview with Berry about his new app is under the jump.

Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, who will be opening his new bar Latitude 29 in the French Quarter this fall, this week released "Total Tiki," a tropical drinks app.
  • Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, who will be opening his new bar Latitude 29 in the French Quarter this fall, this week released "Total Tiki," a tropical drinks app.
There are about 250 drinks featured in Total Tiki, the new tropical drinks app (iPhone/iPad only) released this week by app designer Martin Doudoroff and local tiki expert Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. When asked how many of the recipes were written by New Orleanians, Berry had the answer at his fingertips (it’s 84). That’s because the Total Tiki app lets you filter all those drinks by recipe writer, as well as by decade, alcohol strength, and which ingredients are already in your kitchen and home bar.

These include recipes from native son Don the Beachcomber, Lake Pontchartrain’s Bali Ha'i restaurant, and 33 written by Berry himself. Just back from a trip to Bora Bora with his wife, Annene Kaye, Berry talks Total Tiki:

How does Total Tiki address the notion that it’s a complicated drinks style?

Berry: One of the best things about the app is that you can check off the ingredients you have on hand. Just enter it into the app, and it will tell you which drinks you can make now. Our database also suggests substitute ingredients, and helps identify what you’re missing, so you can build as you go. By the way, the rest of the cocktail world has caught up to tiki. The recipes we’re seeing today – ones calling for, say, smoked rhubarb syrup – are just as complicated.

Where do you go locally for tiki ingredients?

Berry: I like Dorignac’s and Keife & Co., and Rouses on Tchoupitoulas for Fee Brothers syrups. And you can find frozen fruit purées, young coconuts and other exotic produce at Hong Kong Food Market. But really, once you have falernum and orgeat, a dry Puerto Rican rum and a dark Jamaican rum, you can make many tiki drinks.

Total Tiki also lets you arrange drinks recipes by potency. Is this because of the perception that it’s a high-octane style?

Berry: Tiki was invented the day after Prohibition ended [Dec. 5, 1933], when Don the Beachcomber opened his first bar. Except there were no real Polynesian cocktails, and people’s fantasies were in the South Pacific. So he (and later, Trader Vic) gave Polynesian names to Caribbean drinks. I call it “Caribbean drinks cubed”, because they took the original lime-rum-sugar and made drinks with 2-3 fruit juices, 2-3 base spirits, and 2-3 sweeteners. They made Caribbean drinks more baroque, complex and elusive.

Speaking of which – are any of Total Tiki’s recipes from your latest book, Potions of the Caribbean?

Berry: Sure, you’ll find some drinks from chapters 5 and 6 of Potions of the Caribbean. When we update Total Tiki in the future, we’ll include the recipes from that book. The other drinks, photo and research come from my earlier books. The nice thing is that not everyone buys cocktail books; they get their recipes from the Internet. So Martin has brought these recipes into the 21st century, so I’m pretty happy about that.

Which decades are reflected in Total Tiki?

Berry: The 1930s through the 2000s. I include contemporary recipes from leading lights in the industry. These bartenders have taken cues from the tiki canon and run with it. They’re using ingredients and techniques not available back then, and applying them to the classics. For instance, Don the Beachcomber mixed more than one rum in a glass, and now you see bartenders blending two whiskies, gins or tequilas to get base flavors.

Download Total Tiki for $9.99. Original drinks by New Orleans rum collector Stephen Remsberg and New Orleans bartenders Hadi Ktiri and Chris Hannah also are featured in the app. Their recipes below, all courtesy of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry:

2 ounces El Dorado 8-year or 12-year Demerara rum
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce Soy Ginger Syrup*

Shake with ice cubes and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime and orange sail, laid across the glass (should look like anime eyes laying sideways, or a ship's sail when sitting upright).

*SOY GINGER SYRUP: Into a saucepan place 1 medium-sized bulb of ginger, sliced, and then muddle lightly in saucepan. Add 1/4 ounce low-sodium soy sauce, 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water, 3/4 cup (6 ounces) turbinado sugar, and another 3/4 cup light brown sugar. Dissolve sugar and simmer on medium-low flame for 15 minutes.
Strain and cool.
1 cup of medium-roast coffee beans
2 cups brandy
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water

STEP ONE: Crack all the coffee beans, then place in a jar with the brandy. Seal it and let sit for three to four days, then strain the brandy.

STEP TWO: Make a brown sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Let cool, then combine the syrup with your coffee-infused brandy.

1/2 to 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice (to taste)
1 ounce sugar syrup (equal parts sugar & warm water, stir to combine, let cool)
3 ounces Coruba dark Jamaican rum
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Place all of the above in a large tall glass (such as a 14-ounce Zombie glass). Fill glass with crushed ice and swizzle vigorously until well-chilled. After swizzling the ice will settle, so add more to fill. Garnish with a mint sprig. “I am not offended by an orange slice and a cocktail cherry,” adds Stephen.

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