Yesterday marked another victory for Hattiesburg native Robert St. John with the opening of Branch, his new cocktail bar adjoining Purple Parrot Café.
A ribbon-cutting was held with special guests Governor Phil Bryant, Mississippi Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn, Head of Tourism at the Mississippi Development Authority Malcolm White, Minister Michael Dixon of Ekklesia Hattiesburg and The University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett.
St. John opened Purple Parrot Café in 1987 and the need for an expansion started in 1993 when the kitchen reached capacity. He also wanted to expand the kitchen in order to help out the management and staff, which he credits as the reason they have been in business for 25 years.
St. John and General Manager of Purple Parrot Café Dusty Frierson also wanted to turn the bar into more than just a waiting area. They wanted to create more handcrafted cocktails and become the premier wine location in Mississippi.
Branch has about 6000 bottles of wine and a wine label list of over 1000 varieties. The new addition includes a wine cellar with nearly half of their inventory and a private dining room.
Frierson has been into the cocktail culture for about seven years ever since he traveled to The Violet Hour, a cocktail lounge in Chicago. He helped to create the handmade cocktails served by Branch.
“There’s a lot of development that goes into figuring out these cocktails to find the perfect cocktails,” Frierson said.
Frierson says his favorite of the cocktails are ‘The Nine Pound Hammer,’ ‘Dear Doctor’ and ‘Streets of Fire.’
Branch is now open and is set to open another private dining room soon.