“I used to come to New Orleans on vacation all the time, before I picked up and moved here. Seattle is beautiful, but it doesn’t have the same history and architecture and culture and love for music. Also, I’m not sad about the weather here.
We have traditional New Orleans cocktails on our menu and I wanted to make a version of the screwdriver. Local navel oranges are amazing; they’re one of my favorite things, so juicy. A plain screwdriver is boring, it just is, so I asked the sous-chef what was in the walk-in [refrigerator] and what I could use. He said, ‘Fennel’s here, sage, rosemary’s here.’ And I had just made some sage simple syrup and decided to try that with fennel and a little bit of Herbsaint. The Herbsaint really brought out the flavor of the fennel and the sage.
I love creating cocktails after famous New Orleans people, because history is fascinating to me, all the little things. So far, I’ve done a Laveau daiquiri, which had coconut rum, demerara syrup and lime. I did one for a famous madam Uptown, a lavender cocktail with lavender simple syrup mixed with Absolut Vanilla, a squeeze of lemon and topped with Prosecco. It was strong and sweet.
Jazz music is my favorite. When I go out, I go to Frenchmen and listen to jazz. That’s my release. Buddy Bolden, known to be the first bandleader in jazz, you could hear him from miles around, and with his band, he took his Baptist church music and the rhythm of ragtime and this dirty funk and created a new music. You take the horn, you take the saxophone and you take the harmonica, three things that could sound terrible together, and he made it amazing. So to make this drink in honor of him, I took flavors that could be terrible together—fennel, sage and anise—and it ended up being rich and bold and something new, which is exactly what he did with his music.
Buddy Bolden never got to record because he went insane and was committed to a psych ward by his mom in 1907. Nobody interviewed him after that, no one heard his music, and then he died in there in 1931. What made him go insane? How do you go from being the king of music to insane? There was never a diagnosis. Some people attributed it to alcohol, but no one really knows.”
- 2 tablespoons chopped bulb fennel
- 1/4 ounce sage simple syrup
- 1 1/4 ounce Grey Goose orange vodka
- Juice from 1 navel orange
- 4 sprays Herbsaint (from spray bottle)
- In a cocktail shaker, muddle fresh fennel in sage simple syrup.
- Add vodka, orange juice and Herbsaint and shake well to combine.
- Serve on the rocks in an old fashioned glass.
Sage Simple Syrup
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 bunch fresh sage
- Bring water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Add sage leaves, immerse fully and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Strain and bottle, or pour into a glass jar.