POSTED Mon. Jul 22, 2013
A Saturday stroll with bartenders
Chris Hannah

As a French Quarter bartender, the only Saturdays I get off work are when I take trips out of town. A Saturday earlier in the month was an exception. Arnaud’s‎ was bought-out for a wedding and the usual suspect bartenders didn’t have to work. So there we were, Maxton Kennedy, Hadi Ktiri and myself, with a free Saturday night in the French Quarter. What to do?

Do the town, that’s what. And I think we put forth a good effort.
We met at Bar Tonique, where Kristen and John Peterson were at the helm. It was a beautiful start to the day. A relaxing beer around 6pm, and then we were off.

On to Iris, where we found our friend Scott Maddox.
Scott has been making delicious drinks at Iris for some time now, and I finally got the chance to see him in action. I ordered an Americano and checked out his bar. This is a guy who is aging Samogon, an extremely random spirit from Russia, in barrels. Like a mix between Grappa and Pisco, and we all got shots of it before we left. When you go to Iris, do yourself the favor of asking him more about Samagon. Ask Scott why he barrel ages it, and have your own taste test—aged vs unaged.

After Iris we had to pop into Felipe’s for a Margarita. Felipe’s is making an amazing name for itself as a Tiki destination on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but always has the freshest Margaritas in town, daily – not bad for a burrito spot. PJ was our bartender and we all ordered Margaritas to go, with Ocho Tequila (to-go margaritas, by the way, are very fun…the salt is poured on the lid so you lick the top after each sip).

We headed to a spot I’ve had to wait over a year for: Kingfish. Well, not just Kingfish, but Chris McMillian. McMillian is, in my humble opinion, the most important bartender in New Orleans. He’s a walking cocktail encyclopedia. Kingfish opened a month ago, and now he’s behind the bar. He made us his signature Jane Doe and a drink sourced from our cocktail friend, Tony Abu-Ganim a Cable Car. It was good to see Chris behind the bar rattling off history to the other guests. Hard to believe I haven’t had a drink from him in almost 2 years. And it was delicious.

Our next station was Bourbon-O bar inside the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, right on (you guessed it) Bourbon Street. Cheryl Charming has been looking for a spot to renovate. She found it here, and she’s killing it. Revamping the inside and the cocktail list as well, Bourbob-O is turning into one of the smartest stops on Bourbon Street. Becca June was behind the bar and aside from pouring us beers, she also served us the sexiest boilermakers) a person can savor

Next stop was Sylvain for wine and dinner. Liam and Lucy were our bartenders, and this proved to be a perfect stop. Sylvain is a Quarter favorite; the staff, drinks, food and ambience are all pretty excellent. It was the perfect break before our last stop: Hotel Modern.

We took a short cab to Lee Circle. The Modern caters to everyone; there’s Tivoli & Lee restaurant, which employs a good chunk of the best bartenders in the city, and the adjacent Belloq bar, which hired the rest.

In the courtyard, my fellow bartenders and I smoked cigars to celebrate finally having a Saturday night off together. It had been a hell of a tour and a pretty perfect night…even if it may have been overkill to go back to my house for Mezcal afterwards.

Cover image courtesy of Kingfish


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