Nick Detrich

Nick Detrich

nick-detrich-largeBefore New Orleans bar owner Nick Detrich discovered The Perfect Purée Coconut, he would make his own coconut puree by breaking open a young coconut with a hatchet and prying out the meat with a pottery tool. “That took a lot of time so The Perfect Purée Coconut was a revelation as far as the piña colada goes,” says Detrich, the bar manager at Cane & Table, a highly-acclaimed tropical-inspired bar and restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter. “Not making your own purees saves you the time for making your own grenadine,” he says with a laugh.

Conceived by Detrich, who’s long dreamed of opening his own rum bar, Cane & Table debuted in July 2013 just ahead of Tales of the Cocktail. The kitchen features “rustic colonial” cuisine like Grilled Yardbird, Peas N Rice with pickled pork and Crispy Rum Ribs. Detrich dubbed the bar concept “proto-tiki” to reflect the influence the long history of tropical drinks has on the playful, trendy tiki movement. His versions forgo the frothy over-sweetness typically associated with tiki-style drinks and opt for a sophisticated twist.

Drawing on Detrich’s impressive knowledge of the history of tropical drinks, the bar menu at Cane & Table traces the worldwide history of rum 500 years to the present. “I definitely like to take a historical approach and part of what we do is take a step back in the culinary history of New Orleans,” says Detrich, whose sources include Google Books travelogues and archaeology books detailing what people drank centuries ago, plus how they made certain ingredients.

Detrich says his ultimate goal is making drinks that are “just delicious,” which may sound simple but often involves crafting ingredients from scratch, like the grenadine, plus all of the syrups and many of the cordials poured at Cane & Table.

“Our philosophy is, if we can make it and we have a good reason to, we do,” Detrich says. To that end, he says The Perfect Purée works for him in a variety of ways. To make grenadine from scratch, he simmers The Perfect Purée Pomegranate Concentrate with water “to make it super-rich and unctuous,” he says.

The Perfect Purée Passion Fruit goes into Detrich’s Hurricane, an iconic New Orleans drink of rum, passion fruit and lemon that Detrich says rarely resembles its original mid-century version anymore.

“At a lot of places, it’s some weird red-colored thing with rum in it,” he says. The purees make an occasional appearance in the dessert program, too, where the chef might spread Passion Fruit on a single-origin, 85-percent dark Ecuadorian chocolate paired with an aged Puerto Rican rum.

Detrich has come a long way since moving to New Orleans in 2008 with a group of college friends from Indiana. After gigs on Bourbon Street, he ascended the ranks to co-manager at Cure and worked on the opening management team for Bellocq — two establishments renowned for the type of innovative mixology that’s spurred New Orleans’ cocktail renaissance. Prior to opening Cane & Table, Detrich ran two successful rum pop-ups. In 2013, he became one of three finalists for Eater NOLA’s Bartender of the Year award.


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