By: Mimi Read

We know you’ve tasted every alarming ingredient from baked beans to grasshoppers in your latest craft cocktails. But you’ve probably never sipped from the soul of a marvelous city.

Alan Walter, the bartender at Loa in downtown New Orleans, has just released a new menu of fascinating, playful cocktails full of luscious local botanicals. They’re modern New Orleans classics –liquid expressions of the peoples who have shaped this city. Its architecture. Its food and music. Its theatrics and rituals. Its exuberant, irreverent culture. From Sicily to Senegal. From Venice to Vietnam. From Marseilles to Madrid. Don’t forget Haiti and Havana. All and more are here in the mix, suffusing our swampy little corner of the US with their spirits, their colors, their memories, the very contours of their thoughts. Each one comes with its own story at Loa, the elegant bar at International House hotel, 221 Camp St., New Orleans.

But wait. Is the notion of decanting the soul of a city into a cocktail glass just too fanciful a metaphor? Is it like a ship in a bottle, only more maddening to make? Can a bartender –even a brilliant bartender – do this?

We think he can. Especially when the bartender is Walter, a philosophical sort of eccentric and a most creative mixologist. He gets things other people don’t and makes things others can’t, such as his own syrups, tinctures and teas created from local produce. He cooks up a birdseed syrup concocted from his own birds-of-Louisiana blend, then stirs it into his Wild Birdseed Old Fashioned. His mixes a drink called the Double Shotgun with his honey and shiitake liqueur made from the stuff of local gardens and hives.

With its Afro-Caribbean soul and its European roots, New Orleans has always been a city given to style but resistant to fashion. It’s a lot like us in that way. Here at Loa, a New Orleans bar owned and operated by longtime locals, we’ve been stirring up the best craft cocktails for nearly 20 years. We do it quietly and stylishly, in this enclave of ruined finery and flickering candlelight – a bar where the vibe is as rare and romantic as what’s in your glass.

The Sazerac, the French 75, even the Ramos Gin Fizz – these fine New Orleans warhorses are certainly in our repertoire. We love them and they’re part of us, so we make them with reverence. But cocktails, like great cities, should always be evolving. So we don’t dwell on the past. Instead, we delve deeply into this place, New Orleans, in our own time. In the aisles of the grocery store, we make nerdy discoveries. On the street, we meet people we’ve never seen before. Soon they’re supplying us with captivating new ingredients. We drive to farms. To apiaries.  Consult witch doctors. In the middle of the night, we have cocktail epiphanies. We push ahead and we invent things. Strangely delicious. Fresh and inspired by this improbable island of a city we call home.

We’ve set the bar high and the lights low. Come have a drink with us.

 

For More Information:
Call Mimi Read / Read Ink   504.913.9400   readmimi@gmail.com
If you would like to contact Meltwater, they can be reached at:
Meltwater, 225 Bush Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, California 94104