Food & Drink | July 26, 2022 7:30 am

This Top Miami Cocktail Bar Pays Tribute to Jean Cocteau With Gold-Dusted Cherries and Much More

Featuring a menu so beautiful, people are actually taking it home

Jean Cocteau inspired Beauty and the Beast cocktail
Jean Cocteau inspired Beauty and the Beast cocktail
LPM Restaurant & Bar

Jean Cocteau — the French poet, playwright, painter, novelist, filmmaker and designer — was one of the most famous and versatile artists of his era, as well as a noted co-bon vivant alongside luminaries ranging from Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel to Charlie Chaplin and Louis Cartier.

He’s also the perhaps unlikely focus of a new cocktail menu, aiming to trace his colorful life over the course of 12 drinks, at one of Miami’s best cocktail bars: LPM Restaurant & Bar. The menu comprises four chapters, each highlighting a place that Cocteau once called home.

We chatted with LPM Miami’s bar manager Barna Jeremias about the fanciful new menu and how he went from a small town in Romania to running the show at LPM’s busiest bar — no small feat given their locations in London, Dubai and elsewhere. 

InsideHook: You grew up in a small town in Transylvania — how did you get into bartending and end up here at LPM Miami?

Barna Jeremias: I am from Sovata, a very small town with just 10,000 people, but its thermal mineral baths are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Romania. I’ve been working in hospitality since I was 14. Once school was over in June, we would all start jobs as waiters or bartenders. My first bartending job was in 2007 at a club famous for their electronic music and beverage program. At that time in Romania, it was really unique to have that level of drink in a club environment. I ended up by accident behind the bar. My cousin was working there, and I had to fill in for their barback one night. The rest is history. When I saw the environment I fell in love with everything — the creativity, the interaction with guests, the music. I was offered a job within a week. 

How familiar were you with Jean Cocteau before launching this menu? 

Not very much, to be honest. I was working at LPM Dubai when we decided on this concept, and we spent more than six months researching different periods of his life, the artworks he produced and different areas where he lived. It was amazing to come up with all of these clues and connections tying him to the world of bartending and the South of France and the feel and creativity of LPM. We built a story around all the data that we collected and then we decided to structure the menu in the way we did, with four houses he lived in, connected to different periods of his life.

So what did Jean Cocteau like to drink? 

He used to share Champagne with Coco Chanel and absinthe with Pablo Picasso. A lot of his illustrations incorporated martini glasses and bottles. He was a true bon vivant, and he connected with a lot of people. A lot of these conversations and moments of connection involved drinking cocktails. Cognac was his favorite drink, so Hommage, the last cocktail on the list, pays tribute to that, including cognac and cherry heering, which is one of Jean’s original recipes. We add a gold-dusted cherry as a garnish, thinking of this cocktail as a cherry on top of the cake to finish Jean’s story.

Cocteau directed the original 1946 Beauty and the Beast before it became a Disney movie. Can you tell us about your thought process behind the Beauty and the Beast cocktail?

Honestly, the original movie in black-and-white was pretty dark and a bit grim, but that was Jean’s style. We took elements that are common to both movies and tried to recreate it in a drink. If you think of beauty, you think of roses and affection, chocolates and strawberries. So we picked ingredients representing beauty and affection to make a twist on a French martini. We make a strawberry and fennel seed cordial and use Saint German, an elderflower liqueur. Rosewater is sprayed right at the end, and it’s served in a large coupe, with an ice sphere with a frozen rosebud, just like the rose in the movie.

How are you able to execute such complex drinks at such a high level? 

All of our drinks are pre-batched and labeled to reduce waste and ensure better consistency. Lemons and limes are the most inconsistent ingredients in every bar. They change pH level and oxidize so quickly. By pre-batching, we lengthen the shelf life too, and it’s very easy to execute, even for new team members, since we have pretty high volume.

These shimmery, red-bound menus are gorgeous. Are people stealing them? 

We’ve lost 10 menus already in just one month, and one copy is probably around $80 to print. The cover is very expensive. It’s a biodegradable pineapple fiber and the paper inside is all 100% recycled paper that we source from London. The element of sustainability is more and more important in our industry and the pineapple is a universal symbol of hospitality. Plus, pineapple was Jean’s favorite fruit, so that’s the first connection before we even open the menu. 

The menu looks like a diary, so it looks like something personal, with a couple of secrets inside. All the illustrations were done by Lwin Maung Wai, our assistant restaurant manager in Dubai. It’s a shame, but we knew this might happen. I’ve stolen cocktail menus in my lifetime, so who am I to talk? I think the best one I’ve taken was from Oriole in London.

Where can we find you hanging out on your days off?

For drinks, I go to Swizzle and Cafe La Trova in Little Havana. It’s an iconic place in Miami, a Cuban restaurant with a beautiful cocktail lounge and live salsa music. Swizzle is a tiny speakeasy bar specializing in rum cocktails in Miami Beach. To eat, I like Zuma and Kyu in Wynwood, where they do roasted cauliflower with goat cheese and coriander dressing. And their duck burnt ends are really great too. 

For clubs, I go to Melinda’s — they bring a lot of DJs from Romania. Romanians are well known in the world for techno and house music, and it feels like a small piece of home for me. I know some of them and I connect with them every time they come into town. I haven’t been home since 2019, but I’m hoping to get back soon.

P.S. If you can’t get a reservation at LPM, bar seating is first-come, first-served and you can order all the food off the menu too. If it’s your first time, definitely try the Tomatini, a signature tomato-based martini with a dash of white balsamic vinegar. This aperitif is the best selling cocktail at all seven LPM locations worldwide.