Yesterday I had the fortune of checking out the new tiki cocktail restaurant and bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans. My husband and I have been waiting forever for Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s place (Latitude 29) to open, which it did in November. Now, some of you may be wondering what in the world a tiki bar has to do with my gardening blog, so hold on to your seats as I try to weave a story for you.
For many years I have been getting into tiki culture. It began as a sideshoot interest from being both a parrothead and a big fan of Hawaiiana and Hawaiian travel. That led to a great interest in Exotica music (both retro and modern), surf music, and Hawaiian traditional music. On and on into 1960’s backyard tiki culture and home tiki bars my love went. Everything from the furniture, colors, and fabrics used then to the renaissance and popularity of the retro MOD look. Antique and modern tiki artists found their way into my home, and especially the use of bamboo furniture.
My husband and I hosted our first tiki party in Fayetteville, Arkansas many years ago and carried that love of mainland Aloha everywhere we went.
One of the main motivators of this retro culture was the desire to bring a bit of Hawaii to the home for those who were not lucky enough to travel to Hawaii or to return to Hawaii as often as they liked.
It didn’t hurt my interests that I became completely mesmerized with everything Disney, especially The Enchanted Tiki Room. A visit to the attraction at either Disneyland or Disney World was more a of note -taking session in how to bring that “look” home.
One aspect of trying to keep tiki alive is creating a tropical-looking landscape or garden. Whether hiding tikis among the foliage of herbaceous perennials, or tucking cold-hardy palms among the cannas and castor beans. I even brought back Plumeria (frangipanis) from two trips to Hawaii and gladly move them in and out of the house each fall/spring.
In addition to this, my husband and I began a great interest in classic, fresh, cocktail mixing. Fortunately a great history of tiki cocktails can be found in Beachbum Berry’s book, Potions of the Caribbean. Together, my husband and I wrote an article for State-by-State Gardening Magazine on the cocktail garden, back in May 2013 called Shaken or Stirred?
I am also a huge fan of Texas author James Michener and have read many of his books including Hawaii, Caribbean, Tales of the South Pacific and Return to Paradise.
At any rate, whenever given the chance, we seek out any remaining tiki culture (such as the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale) or new tiki. That brought us to Latitude 29.
It did not disappoint.
The food was great, the cocktails tasty and refreshing (we prefer to sit at the bar and chat up the mixologists), and the ambiance is SPOT ON with a fab music playlist by “Mrs. Bum”, who is as delightful as you could want in a tiki hostess.
We sampled the following drinks: Paniolo, Latitude 29, Nui Nui, Espresso Bongo, Lapu Lapu and an after dinner coffee drink. We also sampled the Noodle Bowl, Ground Filet Hamburger, Taro Fries, Crispy Sesame Green Beans and for desert the chocolate won tons. Tip: if you are on a low sodium diet as we are, request the fries and beans to be unsalted as they come with sea salt.
Check out the photos I captured with my old school “stupid phone”. They leave a bit to the imagination, but that’s what should pull you to pop in and let the tiki culture take you away to the South Pacific or other exotic Caribbean locale!
Start planning now in these bleak days of winter how to bring some aloha spirit to your landscape or garden! After all inspiration could be as close as your nearest tiki bar!
Mahalo for stopping by!
The Garden Maiden 🙂
All images and text copyright 2015 The Garden Maiden