I Walked with a Zombie

When Jeff "Beachbum" Berry started writing about tiki drinks, they were the mess that prompted the cocktail renaissance - sweet, sad and degraded cocktails that endured years of half-assed mixing. They were your parents' fond memories, and even the idea of them seemed yellowed by time. Berry's start with tiki certainly has its roots in the old days, when his folks took him to an over-the-top Chinese restaurant that tried to capitalize on the tiki craze in California's San Fernando Valley.

Twice-Told Tales

The challenge at Tales of the Cocktail is not to fall in a hole, or not to do so too soon. The festival that takes fine drinking seriously started most mornings with drinks before 9 or 10, and while they were rarely big drinks, they added up. In one tasting room, I sampled two cachacas followed in short order by Hine's Rare VSOP and Hine's Antique XO cognacs--both cognacs that make you want a winter night that they could warm--in a 10 minute stretch.

Tales of the Tales

How do you measure success? By the amount of ice you need? Which, if you're Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC), is 25,000 pounds. French Quarter Ice starts making ice for it in May.

By its impact? This year a bar in Washington, D.C. will close so that its staff can attend the tenth year of the annual celebration of the cocktail and cocktail culture. The event brought Tiki-drink expert Jeff "Beach Bum" Berry to New Orleans as a speaker, and now he lives here.