Longitude: Downtown Oakland’s New Tiki Bar

| September 2, 2014 | 0 Comments
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The bar at Longitude. Photo: Kim Westerman

The bar at Longitude.

Suzanne Long, former cocktail maestra at Forbidden Island, has opened Longitude, which feels like your very own Polynesian living room, with fabulous drinks.

As a daily wine drinker, I don’t often foray into the world of rum. But when I see a list that runs several pages, and encompasses imports from Antigua to Guyana, and on to India, I don’t need much convincing. Longitude has opened in downtown Oakland to throngs of thirsty urbanites, longing for a tropical escape and a cool, refreshing beverage to transition from day to evening. They’ve found the ideal spot.

When Susanne Long, who cut her chops at the ever-popular Forbidden Island, learned that Disco Volante was shuttering, she made her move and set up shop. While the food menu is up a notch from places like Trader Vic’s, to be sure, the focus here is on the rums, and the delicious cocktails, each with a vivid and accurate description on the menu. Servers know the concoctions inside and out, and are a great resource for any questions you might have.

We started our evening with two classics: a Mai Tai and a Black Orchid, the former made from (Trader) Vic Bergeron’s 1944 recipe, which most agree is the hands-down best.

Trader Vic’s classic Mai Tai at Longitude. Photo: Kim Westerman

Trader Vic’s classic Mai Tai at Longitude.

The Black Orchid is a more recent masterpiece, Long’s own mix of Angostura 7, tart citrus, and house-flambéed rum cordial, an idea that came to her when she was trying to give the drink a caramelized finish.

Suzanne Long's famous Black Orchid. Photo: Kim Westerman

Suzanne Long’s famous Black Orchid.

Of course, we needed to lay down a base, and the crab rangoons hit the spot. These are made with a fair amount of blue crab, enough to emerge through the melted cream cheese.

Crab rangoons with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Photo: Kim Westerman

Crab rangoons with sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Most versions of coconut shrimp are all breading and little coconut, but this one was coconut- laden, the shredded meat fresh and crunchy.

Coconut shrimp and salt-cod fritters. Photo: Kim Westerman

Coconut shrimp and salt-cod fritters.

Time for another cocktail. We wanted to try the biggest possible variety, so we ordered one light drink and one quite strong: The Cape Verde Collins, the only rum-less drink we ordered, has Pür Spirits elderflower liqueur, gin, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, and a sprig of rosemary, poured over crushed ice in a parfait glass. This is probably the lightest drink on the list, perfect for anyone who’s needing to keep her wits about her.

The light and refreshing Cape Verde Collins, a tropical gin cocktail. Photo: Kim Westerman

The light and refreshing Cape Verde Collins, a tropical gin cocktail.

The Queen’s Barrel is at the other end of the alcohol spectrum. Served in a big brandy snifter, this whopper has three rums, sparkling citrus, and passion fruit.

The Queen’s Barrel, the strongest cocktail on Longitude’s list. Photo: Kim Westerman

The Queen’s Barrel, the strongest cocktail on Longitude’s list.

I suggested we get two more straws and invite friends, but the more I sipped, the more I fell in love with the sweet passion fruit on top of all that high-octane power. Still, we left some behind.

Our favorite two pupus were the salt-cod fritters, Trinidad-style, with cilantro and red pepper aioli, and m’bazzi pea beans, navy beans stewed in coconut milk and served as a finger food in romaine leaves, a Kenyan dish.

Coconut-infused m’bazzi beans. Photo: Kim Westerman

Coconut-infused m’bazzi beans.

You can dine under a palapa or at the bar, but anywhere you go you’ll hear birdsong, crickets chirping, or frogs croaking, thanks to a 22-speaker ambient soundscape that plays recordings of wildlife without repeating in each zone.

The early crowd heats up in the bar area at Longitude. Photo: Kim Westerman

The early crowd heats up in the bar area at Longitude.

If you’re seated downstairs, by all means make a trek upstairs to see Long’s mother’s original art, line drawings of animals—a zebra, tiger, giraffe, and many more—Mary Long’s gift to her daughter’s new place, which has already had an auspicious beginning.

Mary Long’s Zebra line drawing at Longitude. Photo: Kim Westerman

Mary Long’s Zebra line drawing at Longitude.

Address: Map
347 14th St.
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-465-2008
Hours: Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-midnight; 10:30; Friday-Saturday, 4pm-1:30am; closed Mondays
Price Range: $$
Facebook: Longitude Oakland
Twitter: @longitudeoak

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Category: bay area, Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, beverages, cocktails and spirits, east bay, oakland, restaurants, bars, cafes, reviews

About the Author ()

Kim Westerman has been writing about food and wine for most of her adult life. Originally from North Carolina, she moved to Berkeley in 2006 to pursue the California dream, which, it turns out, is all it’s cracked up to be. She’s a farmer’s market junkie, a lover of all things tomato, and Champagne-obsessed. She loves to cook with her five-year-old son, and she makes frequent pilgrimages to International Boulevard in search of her next favorite Mexican dish. She spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about food and wine pairing, often starting with the wine and working backwards when planning menus. She thinks the best places to eat outside the Bay Area are Rome, Crete and Shanghai. Her work has appeared in KQED's Bay Area Bites, Forbes.com, the New York Times, Tasting Table, Fodor’s Travel Guides, and lots of other publications.