“I picked Ryan [Scully] for this cocktail because when I moved to New Orleans in 2003, I lived Uptown and he was friends with people that I became friends with, so I’d see him at crawfish boils and began going to his shows. As other people move here, I always get a kick out of introducing them to the Morning 40 Federation because these are lives that people live too, you know; working in a bar, drinking all the time, singing about drinking and generally raging around. And now I’ll get a kick out of making this drink for Ryan, and not telling him about it.
The drink I came up with is called Gin Instead of Whiskey, after the Morning 40 song, and it’s a Manhattan, but with gin instead of whiskey, which is a drink that has a name already [the East-Ender], but we don’t care about that. Morning 40 Federation tends to play when I’m working, so getting to see them is hard since I work at night.
I don’t know the other guys in the band, I just know Ryan. And they don’t play around town all the time. They play just every now and then, and often in smaller venues. Once I started thinking about what songs there were, the drink just wrote itself.
I use regular London dry-style gin, which is what we use for most things, and then our house sweet vermouth, Cocchi Torino, a dash of Angostura bitters, served up with a twist. Simple and easy.
When I first got here I was in school up at Tulane, and I started bartending then, tended bar through school. At this point, I’ve been bartending full time for 10, as my only source of income. At Tulane, I studied law. Got the degree and didn’t want to be a lawyer. Katrina happened, ruining everything for everybody. I didn’t lose a house, nobody died that I know; so I felt like I got off real easy compared to other people. It still had an effect. ‘What am I going to do? Be a lawyer? Hate my life… forever?’ I see all these people losing everything and that made me ask, ‘What the hell am I doing?’ It was a real talk moment. Kept bartending, and now I’m a drunkard bartender.
I’ve named cocktails after songs before, like ‘No Fun’ by the Stooges, ‘Police and Thieves,’ the original reggae version by Junior Murvin. If you see the name of the drink on a list and don’t know the song, it’s just some random name. In fact, those names had very little to do with the actual cocktails. I have a list in my phone of names, maybe a hundred, just random names to stamp on a drink. When I’m out and around, every now and then I’ll hear something and think, ‘That would be a good name for a cocktail.’ When I write them down they seem like good ideas. [smiles] A great list, in fact! They’re there in case I need one.”