Life has a funny and sometimes tragic way of turning on a dime. One minute you’re posting a story about one your favorite places in the world to drink rum, the next minute you find out the place just burned down.
Such was exactly the scenario that befell me one week ago when UC reader David Heronemous commented on my latest story about Papa Zouk’s Fish ‘n’ Rum, Antigua with a question…
I thought Papa Zouk’s burned down???
Turns out, sadly, that David was right. Papa Zouk’s suffered a catastrophic fire in early-December of last year. What’s worse, Papa Zouk’s owner, Bert Kerchner, had no insurance on the place, a sure sign that the good times here were gone for good, right?
We’re almost there, building everything back up again bigger and nicer than before!
These words were spoken to me earlier today by a very excited, and even more grateful Bert Kerchner. I reached him by phone while he and a few friends were busily putting the new and improved Papa Zouk’s back together in time for a planned February 23rd grand re-opening complete with a street fete and live zouk music.
Like the Phoenix, Papa Zouk’s is rising from the ashes!
How is it possible that Bert managed to pull off such an incredible resurrection in such a short space of time? One word: friends.
We’ve had calls and support from all over the world. I really had no idea how much this place meant to people. It’s been humbling, exciting. Hundreds of hundreds of hundreds of people called. Without the help of friends, we’d have nothing.
When the new Papa Zouk’s opens in just over a week, the kitchen and dining space will be larger, the decor even more colorful. But what about the rum? Did any of the 250+ bottles survive the fire?
We pretty much lost all of the rums in the fire, but we’re working now to bring it back.
What rums did survive are also being put to good use, though. In typically uncommon Papa Zouk’s style, the surviving rums were all combined into one huge drum. Upon re-opening, you’ll be able to get a taste of the dynamic new concoction. It’s name: Papa Zouk’s Fire Rum.
The undoubtedly “interesting” flavor of Papa Zouk’s Fire Rum will have to wait until my next visit to Antigua, hopefully this summer. For today’s happy hour fun, though, I’m toasting the re-birth of this truly special place with Papa Zouk’s own homemade Ti Punch Rum Cocktail.
Note: this is not Ti’ Punch in the celebrated tradition of the French islands – rhum agricole, cane sugar or sugar syrup, lime, and no ice – as we’ve profiled before. Bert’s Ti Punch is more of a strong and spicy punch, heavy on the lime, but pretty well-balanced on the sweet. Over a good amount of ice, it’s very refreshing in that sneaky way that will soon have you on your ass if you put away too many of these too quickly.
Bert sold bottles of his Ti Punch Rum Cocktail, like the one pictured above, at the old Papa Zouk’s. Let’s hope that’s one thing that doesn’t change about the place as it gets set to begin anew.
Cheers to Bert and everyone that’s helping Papa Zouk’s rise from the ashes!