Road Notes: Day 113
Today we sat down on camera with Brad Smith, GM and self-described “hand of the bum” at Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s tiki mecca Latitude 29 in New Orleans, LA. We had a great conversation about the history of tiki, its present resurgence, and Brad’s predictions for the future of a movement that began in the 30s, hit its peak in the 50s (during which time it pretty much engulfed the drinking world), and then almost went completely extinct in the 80s and 90s. It is really no stretch to say that the resurrection of the movement is very very very much due to the efforts of Jeff Berry. The conversation took a very early detour when I discovered that Brad was from Wisconsin and had bartended there in the early 90s. The “Wisconsin old fashioned” is a cocktail of particular interest to me as I am convinced that it has been maligned unfairly as a cocktail lacking history/pedigree. Anyhow, more on that another time.
After our conversation we were invited to stay and taste through the Mount Gay rum portfolio. Naturally, we agreed and used the opportunity to exchange cards with the brand ambassador in the event that we make it to Barbados in the foreseeable future. Her name escapes me now (I could grab my wallet but it’s in the other room and that feels so far away right now) but she was very knowledgable and very sweet and braved through the tasting despite the fact that she had almost completely lost her voice the day before. I hope we will be getting in touch with her sooner rather than later.
We left Latitude 29 in desperate need of some lunch (Brad had made us a very boozy mai tai variation and then, ya know, rum) and were extremely fortunate to not only find parking near Willie Mae’s Scotch House but to walk in and be seated immediately (it is not uncommon to wait in line an hour or more we hear). It’s worth the hype. It’s the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. I suspect the recipe was acquired at a dusty crossroads at midnight or something like that. Worth it.
After that we returned home to Reba and I edited some photos while Lauren made another unauthorized visit to the YMCA (see Day 110) during which time she was evacuated for nearly two hours due to a suggestive note being found in the women’s locker room which read: “At seven o’clock all eyes and all lights will be out.” The note didn’t mention a date though (rude) so I’m not gonna say that’s a closed case. Lauren eventually made it home okay.
While she was held up I read a bit about wine and then listened to a GuildSomm podcast while I made dinner. I’m really trying to catch up to Lauren’s wine knowledge but I have my work cut out for me.
Tomorrow we sit down with legendary barman Chris Hannah at Arnaud’s French 75 Bar. All that’s left to do tonight is open a bottle of wine, watch a little Star Trek, and then drift off to sleep where I will hopefully dream about something inspirational but will probably just dream about food.
Road Notes are timed entries—written in thirty minutes or less at the end of each day.