News with a Twist kicks off Tales of the Cocktail with Tiki expert Beachbum Berry
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The 14th annual Tales of the Cocktail kicks off Tuesday. It’s a gathering of the best of the best in the cocktail industry and cocktail enthusiasts.
News with a Twist features the latest trends and histories from New Orleans’ best bartenders, and we begin with the foremost expert on the Tiki revolution with deep roots in New Orleans cocktail history.
“Beachbum” Berry owns Latitude 29 at 321 N. Peters in the French Quarter and has written six books. He brought his wife to New Orleans for a past Tales of the Cocktail conference, and that’s how he ended up owning a bar here.
“We were looking for a place to move to from where we were living, and stepped off the airport shuttle onto Royal Street and was like, ‘Where’s this place been all our lives? This is amazing. Everybody we met was amazing, and there were Julliard trained musicians playing for change on the streets. It was like, okay, this is it,” Berry says.
Beachbum Berry says when it comes to classic Tiki drinks, the Mai Tai and the Zombie top the list.
“The Zombie became famous because Prohibition has just ended, and the Zombie was just basically a punch in the eye to the anti-saloon league,” he says. “It’s like, we’re not just going to start drinking again, and we’re going to start drinking the strongest drink in the world. The Zombie was advertised as no more than two to a customer.”
What’s the best food to pair with tropical rum drinks? Berry says that’s an easy one: Pork.
“Pork and rum go together beautifully, like a plate of spare ribs and a Rum Barrel or Navy Grog is sort of my idea of heaven,” he says.
Speaking of Tiki restaurants, remember Bali Hai at the old Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park? It closed down in the ‘80s after serving exotic Tiki drinks and food for more than four decades.
Twist talked to Matthew Batt, the grandson of the man who owned the amusement park and Bali Hai. He says he’s writing a book about Pontchartrain Beach. It will be released next year.