What’s shaking and stirring: Atlanta bartending legend breaks down latest trends
When the restaurant One Flew South opened in 2008 inside Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport, travelers started looking forward to a long layover. The restaurant brought high-end dining to a concourse, and the Black-owned and operated restaurant was even a semifinalist for a James Beard Award. In the early years, Tiffanie Barriere oversaw the cocktails, turning this bar past airport security into one of the best cocktail destinations in Atlanta.
Barriere still lives in Atlanta, where she is a bartender, consultant and researcher. She talked to Southern Kitchen about the current state and the future prospects of cocktails in the South.
Southern Kitchen: For many years, bartenders from the East Coast, West Coast and Chicago got most of the attention. Where does the South stand now when it comes to cocktails?
Tiffanie Barriere: We're still keeping it Southern. We're still making things with our sorghum. We're still incorporating who we are, but we're showing you that we have the education that you're receiving up north. So we're really trying to still prove ourselves in a sense.
SK: What flavors do you see Southern bartenders using? What style of bars are Southerners creating?
TB: We're definitely gonna have some tea cocktails. We're gonna be boozy. We're in the South. We're comfortable. We love on you.
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SK: Across the South, what cities have cocktail scenes that you’re excited about these days?
TB: With D.C., I can't get enough. Goodness, gracious. Not only do they embrace their community, but they are a binding of so many different cultures in that area. They're so progressive in my eye, and they're not cocky about it. And we always have to keep an eye on Austin, Texas, because they are in their own space, but they own it.
SK: Not that long ago, having excellent cocktails made a bar stand out. But today great cocktails are easier to find everywhere. How does a bar stand out today?
TB: We've decided, thank goodness, that the customer might be right. We’ve got to give them what they want. That means we do have to give them that vodka menu. We have to have that low ABV menu. We do have to make that sweet drink. We’ve got to give them what they want, versus giving them our show. I think the consumer is getting a little more excited about going back out and not feeling so intimidated by the bar menu or the bartender.
SK: The bar world, even more so than the restaurants, has struggled with increasing diversity among staff and owners. Do you see that improving with cocktail bars in the South?
TB: Honestly, as much as I would love to talk about people of color, we don't see it just yet. It's very slow. It's unfortunate that we're not seeing enough brown and Black. We're not seeing enough women. But we're seeing a lot of our queer kids. We're seeing a lot of acceptance of the fashion that the queer community brings.
Note: Interview edited for clarity and length.
Keeping It Colada
Barriere created this drink for Don Q rum, which shared the recipe. No matter the season, the fresh drink will make you feel like it's summer.
Makes: 1 drink
3 pineapple chunks
½ ounce fresh lime juice, plus 1 wheel for garnish
3 ounces homemade coconut cream (see recipe below)
1 ounce Don Q coconut rum
1 ounce Don Q pineapple rum
2 dashes angostura with garnish
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the fresh pineapple. Add lime, cream, rums and ice. Shake hard for 20 seconds. Pour entire contents over clean ice into a hollowed out pineapple. Grate fresh cinnamon on top, and add 2 drops of angostura.
Homemade coconut cream
2 pounds shaved coconut chips
1½ cups heavy cream
⅛ cup white sugar
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring all to a boil. Take off the heat and let cool. Strain using cheesecloth and squeeze out the coconut cream into a glass container. Cover and store cold for up to 5 days.