Some places just happens to have that special feel about them that makes you feel at home right away and Baba au Rum in Athens is one of those places. This world famous rum bar is not just a must go to bar while in Athens – itÂ´s a reason to go to Athens! and trust me they will pamper you with lots of love, an array of amazing cocktails, tiki drinks, rums andÂ other spirits!
One of the first things you most likely do when you arrive at a bar is checking out the menu and the cocktail and spirits menu of Baba is quite special….it comes in the form of a very cool designed bookÂ which has been awarded twice at the Athens bar show. The menu was designed by Kostas Theocharis and has been presented at the Milan Expo Exhibition and also in bars in Paris and Nikosia where it received great reviews.
The menu book is presented both in greek and english and itÂ´s a simple cool, playful design!
Baba au Rum was founded in 2009 by Thanos Prunarus who has been a bartender since 1999 and this bar has greatly influenced the bar and cocktail sceneÂ and the barÂ which wasÂ awarded one of the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2013 — always at the top lists worldwide. Baba Au Rum is often awarded the Best Bar in Greece and Thanos is considered as a main influencer in his country.
And once againÂ Baba has been included for one more year at World’s Best Bar Sellection!
ThanosÂ travels around the world to discover rum, visiting and participating in rum festivals the world over, including judging at the world final of the Havana Club Grand Prix in Cuba which he recently did.Â Thanos also publishes an International Cocktail and Travel magazineÂ called FINE DRINKING.
Baba au Rum is, despite the name and being a rum bar,Â a place where you canÂ just sit back, feel at home and drink anything you want, it doesnÂ´t have to be rum… And regardless of what spirits are used – the cocktails are immaculate wonders of liquid art that is a joy to behold and imbibeÂ – but this place is a lot more than just the drinks….it`s a whole experience and the fact that people travel from all over the world to come here speaks for itself.
I for my part love it! I like when you come to a bar with super friendly bartenders, unpretentious relaxed atmosphere, interesting and beautiful interior, amazingÂ drinks, good music and super comfy bar stools! – Baba got it all.Â If you get a chance or happens to visit Athens, do yourself a favor and go and spend time at Baba!
One thing that striked meÂ on my visit was their amazing warm hospitality….they went out of their way to make me feel part of their family, never will I forget that! thank you everyone at Baba!Â My drinks which were consistently good, were made by theÂ amazing bartenders Ellias Stergiopoulos, Phaedon Papakonstantinou and Nikos Gartzolakis -Â paying attention to the smallest details – you guys rock!!
So whenÂ you sitÂ down…which drink to start with is not that easy because thereÂ´s a lot of great drinks to choose from the menu. One that I really liked a lot ( but I liked everything I tried) was their beautiful namesake drink, the Baba au Rum cocktail – a sweet and savory umami daiquiri with both sweet and botanical notes, and itÂ´s a beauty….
The taste is fresh, sweet and savory at the same time, smooth like silk and incredibly refreshing. I leave you here my readers to enjoy a bunch of pictures from Baba, because you know they speak louder than my words…some of these pics are mine and some are courtesy of Baba.
This…is liquid perfection!
Baba au Rum cocktail made byÂ Phaedon Papakonstantinous.
RumFire Daiquiri…to finish the night!
They make the work look so easy….but don`t be fooled, they work really hard!
What a beauty…
And here we got playful tiki…
And the “Lulu White” tiki mug!
If you don`t get thirsty when you see these kind of cocktails…..
Guadeloupe Tiki Punch! served in one of Baba`s own cool tiki mugs.
Yeah….they got some really good rums…
An interesting and fun detail is the lit up mini carousel….so playful and fun!
And finally, yours truly with Nikos Arvanitis ( Rum Traveller in the Caribbean and writer of the upcoming “From the West Indies to the World” and bartender at the lovely bar Kolokotroni 9Â (you should go there! and while you explore the bars close to Baba, go and try some fine rhum agricoles and cocktails at Rehab too! – another great bar) drinking and talking rum! the International Rum Family is really a wonderful thing! WhenÂ “From the West Indies to the World” is ready I`ll postÂ about it on this website.
The adress to Baba isÂ Kleitiou 6, 10560 Athens, Greece, +30 21 1710 9140, firstname.lastname@example.org
First time I tried rums from Ekte Spirits was last year at the UK rumfest and what I found was good…I also liked the design of the labels with their unusual names such as “Pungent and Geeky” or “Spicy and Rich”. This year at the Paris rumfest they were back but also with a new selection of limited release rums which were some very good rums.
I have a selection of a few of the blends and one of the limited release up for review but you can also see some pictures from the Paris rumfest here.
The name Ekte comes from the word marriage (aegte) in Danish, because they see themselves as a blending house to start with and then moved on to the private bottling with the development of the wide range of Ekte rum (including the five blends and the six limited edition rums) which originally were bottled and blended in Denmark, but areÂ now comingÂ out of Europes second oldest family owned distillery, 1831, in northern spain…the destileria Acha. The entire philosophy ofÂ EKTE is transparency , something that I for one like to see more of!
So here are the rums that are up for a short review:
P&G – Pungent and Geeky:
This rum is Jamaica and Barbados together…the ABV is 47% and itÂ´s a blend of eight different types of rum among them some overproof rum.Â The appearance is a golden yellow clear liquid with a sort of buttery nose withÂ a lot of tropical fruits like banana, mango, bananas, apricots and driedÂ raisins. ThereÂ´s also something grainy or malty in the nose. You can dip your nose deep into the glass without getting a whole cloud of alcohol fumes and inÂ overallÂ it`s quite mild and round.
In the mouth you get the same rich tropical fruit notes delivered with a slight kick and a sharp hint of cask. The rum appears quite dry or semi-dry, if it has any sugar in it it has to be very little. The mouth feel is not too viscous but itÂ´s a robust and pleasant rum with a great aroma. Me like!
The finish I find to be medium long and nice.
D&A – Dark and Aged:
The Dark and Aged blends rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Barbados. It`s up to 5 year old pot still rum blend from Guyana (demerara from DDL) and up to 5 year old column still rum from Trinidad and 8 year old rum blend from Barbados. ABV is 38%.
The color is a nice mahoganyÂ brown color with excellentÂ clarity. In the nose thereÂ´s a bit of oak barrel and vanilla, orange peel, lightly fruity and sweet, itÂ´s not a heavy nose.
In the mouth comes the same notes of vanilla and orange, itÂ´s a bit light and slightly on the sweet side and not as heavy and dark as the name “Dark and Aged” sounds to me, but sure thereÂ´s elements of Guyana in it adding body.
ThereÂ´s a pronouncedÂ Â orange flavor in this rum, somehow it reminds me a little bit of Pyrat, maybe it`s just those hints of orange…Overall itÂ´s a good mixer and sipper.
S&R – Rich and Spiced:
Hailing from Barbados and Trinidad, the Spiced and Rich has a very light nose, of slight perfumey vanillaÂ notes. I already had a feeling this would be too sweet for me and I was right, itÂ´s tooÂ sweet for my palate andÂ it has very much vanilla in it. For those who likes light rums with vanilla notes, itÂ´s an elegant rum and only lightly spiced even though to me it could benefit from less vanilla and sugar. The ABV in this one is 43% which I cannot detect at all, so itÂ´s stronger than it tastes like.
No 3 Limited release, Nicaragua 15:
And finally, the limited editionÂ 15 year old single cask rum from Nicaragua.Â The single casks are of course what interests me the most…
This rum is aÂ column still single cask rum at 68.6%, andÂ 250 bottles was released. The nose is that of deep cask and very full bodied, deep, strong, woody, and full of flavors, tobacco, leather, cask. Due to the high ABV I pick up some medical notes in the beginning but they give way to deep flavors…itÂ´s an exceptional rum, well balanced. The ABV is 68.6%.
Conclusion: The EKTE Spirits blends and single casks are worth seeking out and trying but these are just a few of them. I cannot pick a favorite since I haven`t tried them all but to me the single casks are the most interesting…and the one I like the mostÂ of the blends so far is the Pungent and Geeky. I tried a few others at the UK and Paris rum fests andÂ they were really good as far as I can remember. I also like the design of the bottles and the labels with their simple yet cool design.
And now…time for the drinks…
So with the Aged and Geeky I decided to make a Colada variationÂ addingÂ some coffee notes and a bit ofÂ bitterness fromÂ Campari. The Aged and Geeky mixed very well with all these ingredients without loosing itself in the sumptuous mix of flavors and the cocktail was very tasty!
Pungent And Geeky Colada
60 ml/ 2 oz EKTE Spirits Pungent and Geeky Rum
60 ml/ 2 oz fresh pineapple juice
45 ml/1.5 oz fresh lime juice
30 ml/0.5 oz banana syrup
30 ml/0.5 oz Coco Real
30 ml/0.5 oz cold strong coffee
7.5 ml/0.25 oz Campari
Blend in blender at high speed for 10 sec with 2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice and pour into a snifter.
Fill up with more crushed ice if needed.
Next up is another tiki extravaganza, with Dark & Aged and Pungent &Â Geeky, fresh lime and pineapple juices, peach nectar, rich honey-mixÂ and a little spice from Angostura and Pimento dram.
30Â ml/ 1Â oz EKTE Spirits Dark & AgedÂ Rum
30Â ml/ 1Â oz EKTE Spirits Pungent & Geeky Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
30 ml/ 1 oz peach nectar
15 ml/0.5 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/0.5 oz rich honey mix (2:1 honey to water, heat up to dissolve the honey, cool to room temp
1/2 tsp Pimento dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Pulse blend in blender at high speed for 5 sec with 2.5 dl/1 cup crushed ice and pour into a tiki mug, fill up with more crushed ice if needed.
Garnish with a pineapple crown.
Grand, extravagant, sumptuous and lush!
Next and the last is not a tiki but itÂ´s a tropical style sour:
Dark &Â Aged Coffee Sour
60 ml/ 2 oz EKTE Spirits Dark & Aged Rum
30 ml/ 1 oz fresh pineapple juice
15 ml/ 0.5 oz cold strong kona coffee
45 ml/0.75 oz fresh lime juice
15 ml/0.5 oz demerara syrup
Shake (or use hand blender) and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or speciality glass.
Here`s a couple of exotic spirit syrups, they are made byÂ CentÂ´Anni Spirit Syrups, createdÂ byÂ Victoria Dâ€™Amato-Moran who hails from San Fransisco. I first met her at the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans back in 2009 and now seven years later I hold her new syrups in my hand ready to try them out, see how Tales brings people together!
She`s the daughter of a local bartender and started her career in the restaurant business and her family, theÂ Dâ€™Amato-Moranâ€™s family owned Dâ€™Amatoâ€™s Bar on the historical Broadway strip, and with herÂ grandparents – who were talented chefs themselves – making wine, grappa, liqueurs and vinegars.
Victoria managed her cousinâ€™s bar, Tony Nikâ€™s, in North Beach in 2000, where sheÂ knewÂ classicÂ bartending and cocktail design would be her art, along with creating innovative syrups toÂ compliment.
SheÂ enteredÂ and wonÂ her first drink competition in 2003, and voted the BestÂ Sidecar Cocktail in 2005Â by San Francisco Magazine, and nowÂ 21 successful winning competitions later, which includes the mostÂ recent WSWA Las Vegas 2014, the Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Showâ€™s, Battle of the Mixologists 2012 &Â 2013.
Victoria has created cocktail portfolios for a whole number of companies includingÂ Square One Spirits, Pur Spirits, Campari USA, Preiss Imports, IconicÂ Brands, Arta Tequila, and started from the ground up the bars and cocktail menus for among many more, the Michael Chiarelloâ€™s Bottega, Yountville, Gaston Acuriosâ€™ Â and La Mar Cebicheria San FranciscoÂ and currently working in Half Moon Bay at the historical San Benito Ale House.
SheÂ has been recognized for her work in many noteworthy magazines such as theÂ Examiner, Gary Regansâ€™ 2011 & 2012 Bartenders Guide,Â Tasting Panel Magazine, SanÂ Francisco Magazine, The San FranciscoÂ Chronicle, The Don Julio RecipeÂ Book 2011, Natalie Bovisâ€™ Garden Cocktails 2012, Pur Spirits Cocktail Book and many more and was assistant to TimÂ Federleâ€™s Tequila Mockingbird.
Centâ€™Anni Spirit Syrups started in 2004 and were used in bothÂ cocktail menus and cocktail competitions. Getting these syrups to bottling has been a long journey and with the support ofÂ many fans, and 10 years in the making!
Centâ€™Anni Spirit Syrups will initially launch these three signature syrups: Lemon Spice, Pineapple SpiceÂ and Chocolate Chili Spice, offered in 750 ml. size bottles. Her syrups were created for ease of cocktailÂ preparation behind the bar, for the home bartender, helping cocktail enthusiasts create delicious cocktailsÂ at home,Â and for culinary recipes. The syrups can be used with any base spirit as well as in cooking.
The complex flavor profiles will create innovative cocktails and enhanceÂ the classics as well as create wonderful non alcoholic beverages. These syrups are an exotic blend of spices,Â real juice, and pure cane sugar.Â The three new syrups are these:
Lemon Spice – Lemon juice and spices and tastes like concentrated lemon juice, very “zingy”!
Pineapple Spice – Pineappple juice, vanilla extract and lemon juice, has aÂ mildly spicy pineapple flavor.
Chili-Chocolate Spice – Dark cocolate chips, orange juice, cocoa beans, cane sugar and dried cloves. It has a mild chili bite and hints of cloves and chocolate.
Here are three cocktails I made with these amazing syrups!
Saffron Sour (Recipe by Victoria Dâ€™Amato-Moran)
1 oz Centâ€™Anni Lemon Spice Syrup
1.5 oz Old Raj 92 Gin
1.5 oz Fresh Orange Juice
0.5 oz Velvet Falernum
4-5 Spanish Saffron Threads
Egg White from 1 Organic Egg
Add ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake hard 20 times. Add ice. Shake hard 20 more times. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish: Saffron threads
Well, I didn`t have saffron threads but I did have powdered saffron, it was still nice and added a lovely saffron flavor on the silky/creamy/foamy top of the drink…very rich and lush!
0.5 oz CentÂ´Anni Lemon Spice
0.5 oz Pineapple juice
0.5 oz Aperol
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole
Dash Zulu Orange Bitters
Garnish Cinnamon dust and dried Pineapple slice
Glass: Daniel Gallardo
My take on Victorias “Rumway” which wasÂ named for the airport runway near the beach in Half Moon Bay. Well, this drink is named for the rum it contains which may lead you into the way of rum….
Chili-Chocolate Banana Daiquiri
0.5 oz Centâ€™Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
0.5 oz Centâ€™Anni Pineapple Spice
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Banana, well mature and thinly sliced
2 oz Appleton Extra Jamaican Rum
4 oz Crushed Ice
Blend in blender at high speed for 30 sec and pour unstrained into a fancy glass with ice.
Garnish banana slice cut diagonally.
1 oz Centâ€™Anni Chocolate Chili Spice
1.5 oz Ron Abuelo 12
2 oz Coconut Milk
Squirt of fresh lime
Add ingredients, to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frothy. Pour into a glass with ice. Garnish with a tropical orchid.
This is a twist of Victorias Chili-Spice Cream Soda but i didn`t have half and half or cream soda (not available here) so instead I used coconut milk. The drink tastes creamy rummy and coconutty with a hint of spice.
Conclusion: These are well made organic syrups fit for everything from cocktails to tikidrinks to culinary adventures!
Two years ago was the first time I tried the Zulu aromatic bitters made by LaÃ¨rcio Zulu, bartender and mixologist from Brazil. I was always so fascinated by all the things he did, especially with all the fruits, roots, tinctures etc he did experiment with, and he did experiment a lot!
Brazil is a country that really has an abundance of interesting fruits, roots and herbs, a lot I have never even heard about much less tried.
He is nowÂ working with cocktail consultation through hisÂ brand Custom Cocktails – Bar Marketing, throughout Brazil and also making his bitters – Zulu Bitters.
Zulu is a master in making amazing cocktails, very often with his own exotic house made ingredients.Â The bitters I tried back then, this was 2013, was his firstÂ aromatic bitters and which have developed unto what I now have in hand along with a 5 year commemorative bitters, a barrel aged and an orange bitters.
A lot have happened since then!
Here he tells his his own story:
The first Brazilian bitter brand with BrazilianÂ heartÂ and soul tookÂ it`s first steps in September 2010, that`s when theÂ Zulu Bitter brand was born and developed along with the career of its creator; Zulu Bartender.Â So, lets talk about this guy and his amazing journey.
Thinking about #valoresnacionais (national values), Zulu chases not only unusual ingredients, but also different ways to produce his cocktails, from using ants from the Amazon rainforest to shake cocktails in capoeira rhythm. Every detail designed to give classic cocktails a Brazilian twist.
He says: “My biggest goal is to show the real Brazilian flavors, not only by giving another direction for the use of tropical ingredients, that are, of course, very common in Brazil, but also going way further than that.”
This crazy guy got out of his small town in Bahia to be a bartender in Sao Paulo in 2009, taking American-style bartenders classes in schools like Bertones Bartenders and Flair Brazil, both already extinct, and started working in that same year.
From this point on, he got more and more passionate for mixology and immersed himself on self-learning and reading about it in every book or piece of information he could put his hand on. In the next year, things started getting bitter (LOL).
Before even begin his research of national ingredients, he felt the need to understand more about the history of mixology, how it was developed and how to produce ingredients from scratch.
He dived intoÂ classic mixology books, such as Gary Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology”, Tony Abou-Ganim’s “The Modern Mixology; David Wondrich’s “Imbibe”, Dale Degroff’s “The Essential Cocktails” and, more important, the very first cocktails guide: Jerry Thomas’ “The Bartender’s Guide” 1862.
All these readings helped Zulu to make sense not only how the consumer behavior changed through the years and how each region had its characteristics for consumption of mixed drinks. Most of all, he made sense of the real value of mixology and became fascinated with evolution of the techniques and how the mixed drinks took a very interesting place in society.
That’s when the so acclaimed seasoning (Bitters) steps in.
During the beggining of mixology, to talk about “bitters” was to talk about a “bartender’s secret”. It was the “special touch” for cocktails, responsible for bartender’s authenticity and personality in each cocktail. This concept sounded very well with Zulu and the idea of creating and producing his own bitters was born.
In the following article, Zulu explains his process:
For the technical side of production, I started producing a series of known recipes to understand how the infusions of different ingredients worked. These recipes are still very famous, like Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters, Boker’s Bitters and Gaz Regan Orange Bitters. I did this for innumerous times to get sense of the balance of the ingredients.
For each sample of the first batches (back in 2011), I always shared with professional bartenders who had my respect and admiration like Marcio Silva, Marcelo Vasconcelos, Marcelo Serrano, James GuimarÃ£es and Talita SimÃµes to have an orientation, mostly because, until then, I had not tried many different bitter’s brands. The positive feedbacks were a great motivation.
After that, I started to buy several bitters online, because, in Brazil, Angostura Bitters was the only brand you could find. So, everytime I could find a different one I restlessly tried it and ran to my kitchen to produce new recipes for my bitters.
By 2012, I gave up on any imported ingredients, focusing just on local ingredients.
During my experiences, I divided three groups of ingredients to get the recipe I believed to be the face of Brazilian spice:Â As I tried commercial bitters with amazing textures, I added Brazil Nuts to the body of ingredients of Zulu Bitters. That gives the viscosity and shine I wanted in the mixture.
For aromatic complexity, cinnamon, guarana seeds and amburana seeds stand out.Â For color, jurema preta and cashew were up to the task.Â I believe that these three pillars are the main factors to say that Zulu Bitters does have Brazilian heart and soul… because to explain the â€œAxeâ€ and the “ginga” that goes inside that little bottle, one have to know Brazil.”
That`s a great story isnÂ´t it? I had to ask Zulu what axe and ginga means, and a little about his use of ants in cocktails, because I find that veryÂ interesting (especially after I first tried amazing foraged cocktails made by Marcello Biancaniello with ants beer in them) which were some of the most amazing cocktails I have ever tried, and he explains it like this;
“I used Amazon ants in a cocktail during a presentation at the World Class 2014 Finals, in London. My intention was to combine the citric touch of the ants with my recipe of Gold Label Reserve Whisky, umbu reduction (Umbu is tropical fruit from Bahia) Abatetuda molass (an Amazonic island) and Zulu Aromatic Bitters.
Axe represents energy, strength. The energy giving and receiving. It is directly connected with the lifestyle of Brazilian people who believes in spirituality from african religions.Â Ginga is a lifestyle, its the Brazilian “swag”. Its also the movement that preceeds the capoeira game. Very related with people from Bahia”
So, on my tableÂ here I now have four of his bitters, the aromatic, the barrel aged, 5 year commemorative and orange bitters, i`m gonna try to describe their flavors:
Very much what the name says – aromatic! thereÂ´s a lot of roots flavors and what IÂ´d call “dark spices” but the color is light brown, itÂ´s earhty, aromatic and at the same time brilliant and lively. It has notes of roast cocoa,Â dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, cinnamon, banana and dried spices.
A little bit bitter yes but not too much and well balanced, I Â don`t feel any specific spice taking over.
I can also imagine these amazing bitters in cooking, not just cocktail making! some of these aromatics on meat before grilling…
Woody and spicy, but definetily woody, well,Â “barrel aged” right? but there could be other woods and roots in it as well, interesting flavor and very aromatic, very nice bitters. It has some kinda coffee and raw cocoa notes too, at least to me. The color is light brown.
Brilliant! with a tingling on the tongue! very strong flavor of not only orange peel but theres a lot going on in this little bottle.Â Mainly composed of Bahia orange peel, guarana seeds, cumin and balsam bark but thereÂ´s more than that.Â The color is dark orange bordering to brown, and thereÂ´s hints of wood and roots.
ItÂ´s very tasty bitters. Perfect for lighter cocktailsÂ andÂ would be great inÂ someÂ desserts as well and withÂ grilled seafood.
These bitters aromatics are intense!
5 Year Commemorative:
HereÂ´s astringency and very herbal flavor, my guess is that thereÂ´s some mimosa or chamomille in it. These bitters are aromaticÂ and spicy and very very herbal, also the color, itÂ´s light greenish-yellow.
I also have to mention his first aromatic bitters, they have a totally different flavor than the aromatics of today, itÂ´s a different kind of woody flavor in them and they are still tasty after 2 years.
I must say that these bitters are all amazing and some of the best i`ve tried so far! heÂ sure knows what he is doing.
HereÂ´s a super cool cocktailÂ from Laercio:
Boca de Lobo
50 ml CachaÃ§a Leblon
20 ml homemade Castanha-do-parÃ¡ cordial (Brazil nut cordial)
15 ml lime juice
15 ml Catuaba (a Brazilian bark)
4 dash Zulu Orange Bitters
Shaken together and served in a tiki mug with crushed ice.
I haven`t tried it yet, because I don`t haveÂ the Brazil nut cordial or catuaba beverage, whichÂ is a drink made from extracts of a plant found in the Amazon forest which alsoÂ isÂ an aphrodisiac and a famous one too, and it`s sold in bark form, as tea or beverage.
And how do you make a Brazil nut cordial? (hereÂ´s for going out and google again… :-)) but the recipe can also be seen as inspiration for using these bitters and the bark can maybe be substituted with something else or be omitted if you cannot find it.
Brazil nut cordial can maybe be switched for a homemade Brazil nut orgeat instead? it would totally change the flavor but itÂ´s easy to make and Brazil nuts are usually available and I believe it would still be a good drink. Just donÂ´t forget to change the ratios too!
I`d maybe do 2 oz of cachaca, 0.5 oz Brazil nut orgeat, 0.5 oz lime juice, 2Â dash Zulu orange bitters and instead of the catuaba barkÂ tincture, 2 dashes of the barrel aged bitters.
SoÂ where can peopleÂ get these bitters from? because they cannot also be substituted… and frankly I have never tried any other bitters that are anywhere close to the flavors of these and naturally so since these contains local Brazilian ingredients.
inquiries:Â email@example.com and here is his Facebook page.
And with these interesting and flavorful bitters I had to make a cocktail or two of my own to try them out:
Champion of theÂ 42 Below cocktail world cup and owner ofÂ theÂ Nu Lounge Bar in Bologna, Italy – master of tiki drinks and tasty libations and undisputed lover of pineapples, meet Daniele Dalla Pola!
Hailing from Milan and now living in Bologna where he resides at the Nu Lounge Bar when he`s not travelling the world spreading tiki and tropical drinks and aloha. UPDATE: He have nowÂ opened a new bar in Miami called Esotico!Â
I have been admiring theÂ tiki drinks and vintage styleÂ photos of Daniele Dalla Pola for a long time, I hope toÂ one day be able toÂ have one in person! (UPDATE: Now I have! and they are every bit as good as I thought! his bar (I visited the Nu Lounge bar in Bologna) doesn`t deliver just fantastic drinks, they deliver an experience)Â When I first met Daniele was in New Orleans at the Â 2014 TOTC, at the event “Dynamic Duos” at the Cane and Table where Jeff Beachbum Berry did bartend together withÂ Nick Detrich mixing up drinks with Plantation rum.
It was an evening of great friendship, fun and tasty cocktails as this picture by my friend Laura Godel can tell!
Curious about how Daniele came into the world of tiki and what tiki means to him i asked him about his story:
You are one of the most prolific bartenders out there… tell us your story Daniele?
Thank you for a compliment! A long story short, to be a prolific bartender it`s essential to have passion for what you are doing, but passion without talent is nothing. My talent is all about hospitality. I learned how to improve my skills during my long time living in Miami, USA.
Everyday was a challenge, because I could loose my job in anyÂ moment. There was and there is still a lot of competitors-hardworkers so if you are not on focus you can loseÂ your chance to success.
And itâ€™s like this everywhere in the world.Â In last 10 years our world has been changing so much, a lot of â€œtrainsâ€ (opportunities) pass by….you have to jump in.
And tiki, how did you get into that?
I been a tropical oriented kind of person since I started this profession and I always dreamed aboutÂ opening a bar in Hawaii. I just fell in love with this incredible world of cool fancy drinks many years a go. Then thanks to the new golden era of cocktails I even decided to make a radical change to my bar, like Trader Vic did in the past.
I have seen tiki getting more popular inÂ Europe, especially in the UK but itÂ´s not near as big as in the US, naturally, and a lot of people seem to think tiki is just just all about the drinks,Â when the drinks are actually just aÂ part of a whole movement and art form, what`s your thoughts on that?
Tiki Culture is the coolest era ever, sometime I just wish that I can travel back in time and walk into one of the Don The Beachcomber or participate in one of the amazing Luaus at the Encino Plantation, maybe make a Missionary`s Downfall to Clark Gable…
I agree that tiki is not just a type of cocktail, tiki can beÂ a lifestyle, your home can be tiki style, you can buy outfit tiki style, you can have even a tattoo, butÂ without Aloha Spirit all this won`t be possible.
And as for the drinks, whatÂ´s your favorite tiki drinks?
I love to make the Pearl Diver and the Missionary s Downfall…. my favorite depends of the moment…. now it`s Don`s Special.
I cannot do this interview without talking about pineapples, you really do promote the King of Fruits like no one else, why is it so special?
You just said it !!!! it`s the king of fruit and a symbol of friendship and of hospitality. ItÂ´s so good and i love the texture in cocktails and now it`s fashion too.
Obviously a silly question, but tell me why should IÂ visit the Nu Lounge Bar?
Because of me !!!! is a joke !!!! 🙂 many reasons, one of them is for sure the location and all the good looking guys that work there…..
Â I see you use a lot of coconut, pineapple and banana, are they yourÂ favorite flavor pairings?
That was an easy question – RUM and LIME…….. 🙂
Your photos have a very nice vintage look, do you have any photography tips?
Just buy cool apps and practice, make sure that the background is nice and that there is nothing that can disturb, for example like a garbage bin, also IÂ usually don t like pics with straws, try to have your style so the people can recognize your works easily. And change it when you dont like it anymore…..find a new style and start again.
Tell me something about Hawaii…. and what the Aloha shirt means to you!
Hawaii isÂ magic, Hawaii isÂ paradise…. all the islands are incredibly beautiful, everything there is so special, all the breathtaking views, the beaches, the sound of ukulele, the kalua pig, and the beers are amazing,[ liquid Aloha ] the Kona coffee… and you can see some cute hula girls dancing.
But you can live with Aloha Spirit everywhere you want.
Talking about Aloha Shirts, I`ll say just one thing, now we cross the line a bit because fashion industry in the last couple of years is doing a lot *Hawaiian Style* and people will get tired of this.
But I`ll not! One day I hope to become a KamaÊ»Äina, so I`ll have a discount in the Aloha Shirt Shop….
And finally, you recently hadÂ a gorgeous pineapple mug made,Â is that a new signature mug for your bar?
Of course ….the Sexy Colada! and here`s the MANOA:
45 ml Bacardi Carta oro rum
30 ml Arcane cane crush rum
10 ml Pimento dram liqueur
15 ml Passion fruit syrup
15 ml Homemade falernum syrup
20 ml grapefruit juice
20 ml lime juice
For the garnish:
1/2 Â lime
1 sprig of mint
1 sugar cube
3 ml Absinthe
A sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1 cup/250g crushed ice
Pour lime juice, grapefruit juice, falernum syrup, passion fruit syrup, pimento dram liqueur, white rum and overproof rum into a shaker and fill the shaker with crushed ice and shake.
Pour together with ice into a tiki mug and garnish with a mint sprig and a half lime with a sugar cube soaked in absinthe. Set the sugar on fire and sprinkle it with ground cinnamon.
After writing this post IÂ know one thing for sure, someday I need to get myself over to Nu Lounge Bar….(and i did, and the Manoa I got was excellent and served in a cute wooden box surrounded by smoke….) and now they also have these superÂ cool pineapple mugs, a part of the Marama Project for Nu Lounge Bar. I made a “Aku Lapu Lapu” in itÂ and the mug is just the right size for a good tiki drink and the top has a hole in it for the straw.
I think the mug is so cool………
And now letÂ´s take a look at Daniele`s drinks! they are photographed in a lovely vintage tiki style and the garnishes and glassware and everything around are all creative and elaborate and the king is of course – the pineapple!
Here`s eye candy for tiki drink and tropical drink lovers! all are DanieleÂ´s drinks and many of these areÂ what you get if you head over to Nu Lounge Bar! I just love the vintage tiki style in these photos! and thereÂ´s such great attention to detail…. but beware – itÂ´s Â a VERY LOOOONG picture parade…..
With a hint of coconut, pineapple and banana…..spices, smoke and fire…….
Aloha is the greeting…..letÂ´s getÂ tropical!
Start with a Mai Tai……
Then get something spicy with a vibrant lively rhum agricole….the Spiced Martinique Swizzle!
And then….here it is! – DanieleÂ´s fresh yummy drooly SexyÂ Colada!
Fragrant….cinnamon dusting on top…..
More pineapple! from Pina to Painkiller!
Sail away to the tropics…. and STAYÂ tropical!!!
The Maori Sour ( Nu Lounge Bar )
20 ml. passion fruit puree 2 barspoon Guadeloupe sugar mixed with green tea ( powder ) 20 ml. lime juice 1/2 passion fruit 60 ml. 42 below vodka 20 ml. manuka honey mix Shake and pour unstrained in a cool glass Add more ice ( crushed ) Garnish with the empty passion fruit filled with green tea , berrys, sugar enjoy
Ready for some heat? the Nu Volcano is erupting!
Followed by smoke…..
Isn`t this just beautiful?
Pineapple and coconut again!!! let`s kill some more pain….
Yeah… we sure are in pineapple paradise!
And weÂ´re on island time aren`t we?
Dreaming of Blue Hawaii…. can you hear the waves crashing?
And the sweet island tones of the ukulele to soothe your soul.
I spy a Scott Taylor mug….
We know what DTO is…. and now itÂ´s even BDT – Banana daquiri time!
Aqua de Mai Tai….very innovative and stunning presentation!
Missionary’s Flip Flop!
Painkiller, Spice Colada and Boo Loo
Pineapple love Â 🙂
As you can see, thereÂ´s a lot of attention to detail here…I mean down to the last tiny details….a sign of a true master! and a lot of Aloha spirit in his works! Beautiful pictures aren`t they? all pics in the picture parade are courtesy and credited toÂ Daniele Dalla Pola, the pics of the smokeÂ are courtesyÂ Ariel fromÂ www.ascocktailproducts.euÂ Mahalo for giving me permission to use them Â here!
Address: Via DÃ¨ Musei, 6, 40124 Bologna, Italy
Phone:+39 051 222532
Hours:5:00 pm â€“ 3:00 am
PS – sorry for the irregular picture sizes, but they became that way automatically after a program/theme update/change and you cannot change it unless you take out every pic and manually resize them… thereÂ´s too many pics here to do thatÂ 🙂
And so finally I got to go the Latitude 29! IÂ´ve been waiting since they opened with great anticipation and (high) expectancy…..well…I try to not have too high expectations whatever it is, better to have an open mind, but with this one i`s a bit different….because this is the BUM`s place….this is the man who uncoded all the secret codes and brought us all these lost drink recipes and who wrote no less than sixÂ stellar books on the subject if you count in Taboo Table.
His books have been my to go tiki drink (and history) books for years and so now he and his wife Annene Kay aka Mrs Bum opens a real tiki bar in my favorite city New Orleans!
AndÂ I wasn`t there when they opened….and had to wait all the way until this yearÂ´s Tales before I could finally go and see it Â – and in the meantime I`veÂ been drooling over all the food and drink pictures (can you say Tahitian Steak Frites?) and the drinks…..oh the drinks….
I`ve seen so many beautiful pictures of these drinks that I didn`t know what to start with….but I ended up ordering a Pontchartrain Pearl Diver as my first drink – in the NEW Pearl Diver`s glass! 🙂
The Pearl Diver`s glass, the Swizzle cup and the skull barspoons are all new for this summer in collaboration with Jeff Berry and Cocktail Kingdom and they were sold at the Tales but are also available online. The vintage Pearl Diver`s Punch glass is more or less impossible to find anymore so I`m really happy they are re-making them and same for the cool swizzle cup! I hope to see more re-making of these type of vintage tiki drink glasses….
And not only are the glasses really cool they come in beautiful vintage looking packages too!
The Pontchartrain Pearl Diver was good…..very very good – well balanced and ohÂ soÂ tasty! I didn`t try so veryÂ many drinks during the Tales because it was so incredibly busy….and so was I…so I decided to wait until after Tales and THEN go there for some seriousÂ drink tasting!
So last friday I went there early and I sat there and happily indulged Tahitian Steak Frites with luscious Coconut Butter and later a Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi accompanied by a whole array of drinks until in the evening, I actually spent a whole “working day” in the place!
And I had a nice chat with the Bum, about rums and rums and rums…and of course, tiki drinks. I was indeed a very good day….The place is so cool and relaxed, beautifully decorated and the music is great! with everything from real good and cool old style Jamaican reggae to surf music! and the co-bar manager Steven Yamada and his staff are very attentive, friendly and nice.
It`s really a place to go not only for the great drinks and food but also to escape from the world outside and it doesn`t matter if thereÂ´s big windows to the outside world…..because this is New Orleans! and the view from the beautiful arched windows is nothing but beautiful….over the pool and the tropical plants in the courtyard of Bienville House Hotel.
This used to be housing the former Iris restaurant, I went there in 2009 with all the Tales bloggers and now I cannot recognize the restaurant and bar anymore, itÂ´s a total different world! quite the transformation….the only things that looks the same is the courtyard and the hotel lobby.
Take a look:
Back in 2009…Alan Walther tends the bar at Iris…..and he did serve some amazing cocktails! he later moved on to Loa, this was long before the Iris became what it is today – a true tiki haven!
The Tales Blogger Dinner in 2009 in the formerÂ Iris restaurant, the same view today of the beautiful courtyard and pool but the dining room has dramatically changed…..
This is such a tranquil and peaceful place….if staying at this hotel you get both all this plus the Latitude29 in one place…..
Eat Drink and be Merry!
Hurricane, Kea Colada and Royal Hawaiian Cocktail.
The food menu has something for everyone! executive Chef Chris Shortall and his staff creates their own take on modernÂ Tiki Cuisine which is playful and tasty and there`s something for everyone including options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free guests.
First thing I opted for was the Tahitian Steak Frites which I`ve beenÂ dreaming about since they opened…..
The Tahitian Steak Frites are tender, luscious and juicy (I ordered mine medium-rare) served with hot crispy thin fries and a tasty dipping sauce plus a dollop of coconut butter on top! the Bum told me that in Tahiti they add coconut to the cowÂ´s diet and therefore everything the cows are producing have a touch of coconut flavor…heavenly….and so they wanted to re-create that idea here with the coconut butter.
I LOVE it!
I`m not joking, I think I could eat this almost every day….the meat is so tender and melts in your mouth together with that lovely coconut butter….
The Mahi Mahi Bahn Mi isÂ wild caught Mahi poached in coconut oil, jalapeÃ±o, sriracha, and shallot….and at a Chef`s Challenge before the Tales I tried the ribs which are very tastyÂ too….and not to forget the crispy green beans!
Another nice dish is the Shrimps in Blanket, the gulf shrimps here really are something special. They are big and juicy….and have more shrimp flavor than shrimps I`ve tasted anywhere else.
Shrimps in Blanket
These green beans were amazing…..
An array of seductive tropical tiki drinks…..
When you enter a tiki bar you want to be seduced….you want to forget the daily struggles and take a “trip to the South Seas” with exotic tropical drinks! (inspired by drinks in the Caribbean….) 🙂
So I started with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver….it`s such a good drink!…..balanced, fruity and rummy! The Pearl Diver is a mix ofÂ honey-butter-spice mix blended with passion fruit, lime and Jamaica rum. The butter adds a wonderful slightly viscous mouth-feel, if you didn`t know it was butter in the mix you wouldn`t know what it was but you would know there was something there….
They are both gorgeous in their presentations with the Pontchartrain Pearl Diver in the new re-made super cool Pearl Diver`s glass.
The Latitude 29
The Rum Barrel is according to the menu a communal drink but it says “For 2 to share, or 1 thirsty pirate to hoard. A kill-devilâ€™s brew of 3 rums, 4 juices, multiple herbs, spices and sweeteners …” – so apparently I`m a “thirsty pirate” since I had no problem drinking it all by myself….
It sure makes you feel like a rummy pirate! 😀
It`s presentation is BEAUTIFUL! and fun! see the picture….they really take time to garnish up these beauties….and the drink itself is strong and rummy/fruity/spicy. One of my favorites!
Rum Barrel, complete with pineapple peel, cherries, orchid, swinging monkeys and umbrella! superfun garnish 🙂
And so is the Coffee Bongo…..also incrediblyÂ nicely garnished….with a pineapple leaf cut out to look like a palm tree frond…..topped with two coffee beans….stunning! the drink is also strong/spicy and rummy with lots of character and if you like coffee and pineapple together, you find it here.
Every drink is not rum though….thereÂ´s a drink called “Outcast of the Islands” which was amazingly tasty and is a mix of London gin and Persian lime…with cinnamon, ginger, almond and anise,Â heavenly….
And it LOOKS heavenly too! it comes served with an ice shell…..how cool is that? and the Navy Grog comes with the iconic ice cone which is made with the Bum`s ice cone device sold by Cocktail Kingdom (as well as the Pearl Diver`s glasses, the swizzle cup and the skull bar spoons)
And there are drinks with bourbon, brandy, tequila, beer and vodka….but I haven`t tried them all yet….there`s something for everyone in the drink menu too. Me, I tend to mostly stick to the rums….
Outcast of the Islands and the iconic Navy Grog
TheÂ Professor Remsberg`s Punch is a very interesting drink and very tasty too,Â the drink contains “Fine old Guadeloupe rum, gently stirred with lime and a Caribbean spiced syrup discovered over 30 years ago in San Juan by the Professor himself”…….I wonder what is in that syrup?Â If you didn`t know, Stephen Remsberg is the worldÂ´s biggest rum collector.
It`s evident to me that they pay as much attention to the garnishes as the drinks themselves because some of these drinks ar off the charts when it comes to beautiful presentations! you get a little work of art in your hand!
And the drink names alone takes you on a exotic journey…..a lot of them created back in the heydays of tiki.
Tasty, exotic and beautiful.
The Hawaii 504
You know, you need to go there and just try all these heavenly things! btw….between 3 and 6 pm every day itÂ´s Happy Hour with a special menu….where among the drinks you`ll find the Banana Banshee and the Royal Hawaiian Cocktail….both perfect to cool you down when itÂ´s hot outside which is a guaranteed thing in New Orleans during the summer.
And the best thing of all….you get the Steak Frites for half the price!Â what is there not to love?
The Banana Banshee is a frozen cocktail with Jamaican rum, lime, coconut milk and coconut cream, fresh banana and aztec bitters and topped with grated chocolate!
I also ordered a few off-menu drinks with the help of Jeff Berry`s Total Tiki app, such a handy thing to have! and they were delivered top notch! I think Steve outdid himself with the Coconaut….coming beautifully garnished with a Cruzan Blackstrap float on the side. It tasted absolutely heavenly…..it was a mix of Hamilton 151 Demerara, El Dorado 5, for the rums plus that lovely float of blackstrap to pour yourself 🙂
This Coconaut was incredible!
The Zombie was spicy and nice just as I expected, and just about right with the strength, and the Kamehameha Rum Punch did live up to itÂ´s name…..
Kamehameha Rum Punch and the Zombie…..
This interestingÂ drink recipe is from Sippin`Safari and originates from the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii, as the origin of the drink around 1960.
So who was King Kamehameha you might ask?Â Kamehameha â€“ also known as Kamehameha the Great was the head of a dynasty ruling the Hawaiian islands for more than a century. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means â€œthe one set apart.â€Â He conquered the Hawaiian islands and formally established the Kingdom of Hawai`i in 1810.
This drink is actually named after the Hotel King Kamehameha in Kona, Hawaii who took the name after the great Hawaiian King â€“ Kamehameha.
Every year on Kamehameha Day (June 11, a state holiday in Hawaiâ€™i), National Statuary Hall is the scene of a ceremony in honor of the king and the statue of Kamehameha the Great is draped with lovely (and loooong) leis of fragrant flowers from Hawaiâ€™i. The Festival continues to pay tribute to Kamehameha and acts to preserve and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.
And as every tiki bar should, there:s also a couple of different communal drinks on the menu, the newest one is a monster drink called the “Plantocracy Punch” for 6-8 people but we were only three so we tried the Lapu Lapu which uses a recipe which according to the menu is aÂ Don The Beachcomberâ€™s â€œlostâ€ unpublished 1964 recipe, recently discovered by the Bum and presented here for the first time in over 40 years.
And of course it`s appropriately garnished with little mermaids taking a rummy ice bath…..
Fruity, spicy, rummy Lapu Lapu and little mermaids swimming in the bowl….
While sitting in the bar I spotted two Samaroli rum bottles….and so of course I ordered a sample of each….and with the rum samples you get a small shot glass with water and a dropper, neat.
One was the 13 year old Guadeloupe 1998 Rhum Agricole and the other 1988 Demerara Dark Rum. The Guadeloupe is spicy and a touch smokey, with aÂ strong character but at the same time, not too aggressive, itÂ´s fruity, peppery, balanced and picky but also smooth.
A few drops of water brings out a whole array of tropical fruits flavors! this rum is incredible. I REALLY liked it!
The 23 year old 1988 Demerara rum had flavors of wood, macerated tropical fruits, apricot, vanilla, banana peel, mango and something else I couldn`t define…..but here a few drops of water didn`t bring out much change….still very woody, strong and fruity. Also a very good rum!Â Both of these rums are distilled in the Caribbean and then matured in Scotland.
They are not cheap but they are unique rums and they give you something to remember.
Then I saw a curiosity on the menu….it had a sort of mellow toasty coconut flavor…interesting….and I think it also could be used as ingredient in some of the drinks maybe? how about a Toasted Coconut Daiquiri?
The Interior Decor…..
Here is top crafts….the first thing you notice is of course the big centerpiece which now is in the same spot as the huge mirror was when it was the bar at Iris. The centerpiece is a huge carving ofÂ the Pacific Islands in a map in the forms of small tikis made by Daniel Gallardo aka Tiki Tiablo, and it`s a stunning work of art!!
Here is a collage of close-ups ofÂ the “Islands” in the map and thereÂ´s a nod to New Orleans too….do you see the fleur de lis on top?
Bosko Hrnjak did all the new (non-vintage) light fixtures and all of the new (non-vintage) tiki carvings, wall panels, etc, over 50 of them in total. And Dave “Basement Kahuna” Wolfe did 8 Easter Island carvings on the hut wall-dividers.
It`s all beautiful….
Another (practical) thing I greatly appreciate are theÂ power outlets with USB ports located on each side of theÂ tables, I wish more bars had that, it should be standard everywhere.
Tiki glasses, Barspoons and Orgeat
All tikiphiles already knows about the Pearl Diver`s glass, the swizze cup and the cool skull bar spoons which you can find at the Cocktail Kingdom which I mentioned above….but a new thing is the Latitude29 orgeat which comes in a heavy round glass bottle and is sold in the bar.
I haven`t tried the orgeat yet even though I bought a couple of bottles (USD 15 each) but i`m out travellling so that will have to wait.
So to sum it all up, what I was looking for was how the food and the drinks tasted and wereÂ presented and if thereÂ´s consistency….(and yes I have returned) and how the decor and the feel of the place was, what music did they play and how loud? is it possible to have a conversation or do you have to scream? and how I was treated as a guest.
Personally I have nothing to complain about, the food and drinks are top class, the decor tasteful and genuinely tiki, it`s a laid back and relaxed feel, the staff attentive, professional and very sweet and so I`ll keep coming back, this is now my primarily watering hole in New Orleans :-).
That said thereÂ´s a lot of very good bars here, I just happen to really really like well made tiki drinks and in the relaxed vibe andÂ environment ofÂ a real good tiki bar, there I feel the most at home.