If it weren’t for Berry, we wouldn’t have the Tiki drinks we have today. They would have stayed lost in the rummy mists of time forever. But he almost single-handedly found them and restored them to their place of glory.
So when the Bum publishes a new book — which he doesn’t do very often; he is, after all, a beachbum — it’s an event worth celebrating.
Coming this December is his latest, Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean. It recounts the spirited history of the West Indies, as seen through the prism of a cocktail glass. I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait to do so.
I’m copying the official information below, but first I want to share these amazing pages from the book. Not only is Berry an invaluable writer and cocktail historian, but his books are downright gorgeous.
This is the “must-give” gift for the cocktail, history, rum, or Tiki fan in your life.
Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff Berry
Hardcover, 317 pages, $34.95
For the Conquistadors, the Caribbean was “New Spain.” For Victorian England, Jamaica was “The New Riviera.” Chicago mobsters transformed Havana into “The Las Vegas Of The Caribbean,” while Tiki-crazed tourists remade Puerto Rico into “Hawaii In The Atlantic.” Since Columbus first stumbled on the Caribbean, invading hordes have continually tried to turn it into something else — and with every reinvention of the region came a reinvention of its drinks.
Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them strains five centuries of this fascinating history through a cocktail shaker, serving up 77 vintage Caribbean drink recipes — 16 of them “lost” recipes that have never before been published anywhere in any form, and another 19 that have never been published in book form. Even more delicious are the stories of the people who created, or served, or simply drank these drinks. People like William Dampier, the 17th-century “pirate of exquisite mind” who plundered native cities but collected native recipes … José “Sloppy Joe” Abeal, who became an overnight celebrity when Prohibition brought millions of thirsty Americans to his sleepy Havana saloon … Conrad Hilton, the bible-thumping tycoon who used drinking and gambling to kickstart modern Caribbean tourism … mysterious Egyptian mixologist Joe Scialom, who escaped a Cairo prison to bring a new style of cocktail to the islands … restaurateur “Trader Vic” Bergeron, whose faux-Polynesian Tiki drinks turned the West Indies into a surrogate South Pacific … and hard-drinking novelists Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene, who hated each other almost as much as they loved frozen Daiquiris.
As “a hybrid of street-smart gumshoe, anthropologist and mixologist” (The Los Angeles Times) and “the Indiana Jones of Tiki drinks” (The New York Times), the Beachbum is uniquely qualified to tell this epic story-with-recipes, lavishly illustrated with vintage graphics and rare historical photos.
The full-color hardcover first edition goes on sale December 10, but you can pre-order your copy now from Cocktail Kingdom: