One can’t talk tiki without mentioning Beachbum Berry.Before the re-emergence of tiki in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, he was already rediscovering and cracking the code to many lost and secret recipes from tiki’s glory days. He has written numerous books about tiki drink history, Polynesian food, and of course, recipes. It was only a matter of time before he would join his legendary predecessors like “Trader” Vic Bergeron, and Donn Beach, and open his own tiki bar. In November 2014, he did just that, opening Latitude 29 in the famed French Quarter in New Orleans.
Since New Orleans is not terribly far from Dallas, Todd and I decided to head out there for a couple of days, and check out Latitude 29, as well as the rest of the local color in the city. It was an 8 hour drive, but not out of the question. After checking into our hotel, we walked a short 18 minutes and reached our destination.
Todd and I outside Latitude 29
When we walked in, we were immediately drawn to all the amazing tiki art and lamps, all of it appropriately decked out for the holidays with colorful lights, ornaments, and tinsel. The amount of detail given to the space is truly impressive. The bar is divided into three sections: The lounge area, which is visible immediately when you walk in, the bar area, and a dining area, which is separated from the bar and lounge by a wall. The whole place was dimly lit, as any good tiki bar should be, with only a small amount of daylight coming in.
Todd and I promptly took a seat at the bar, where the bartender, Drew, was slinging drinks like a champ. Despite how busy he was, he was extremely pleasant, engaging, and I’ll be darned if he doesn’t make one hell of an amazing drink. I started off with the signature Latitude 29, which bowled me over. I am a huge fan of passionfruit, and if you are too, I strongly suggest you start here. The drink comes in a Collins glass, wrapped in what looks like a banana leaf, and also comes with a swizzle. Todd went straight for the Zombie, and noted its cinnamon-heavy flavor, and its smoothness.
We were having a hard time deciding on Round Two. One of the detriments of having so many awesome options is having to decide on one. In the end, we went with a Rum Barrel, and decided to share it. I had never seen a drink so crazily and elaborately garnished. It, too, was absolutely delicious. Drew was even kind enough to let us have a taste of the new Plantation O.F.T.D. Rum, which is not out yet, from what I hear. For an overproof rum, it was really smooth! I had to sip mine very slowly, though, as rum tends to sneak up on me quickly.
It was about this time that we met some fellow tiki friends, who had come in from Atlanta for their own mini vacation. One of the best things about tiki is the people you meet along your travels, and our new friends Will and Tara are no exception. We had fun talking tiki and having the time of our lives! We hope to go visit them and check out the historic Trader Vic’s out there.