“Danny Barker is one of my heroes. I don’t think enough people talk about him. Probably my favorite compliment that I ever received living here was at the Backstreet Cultural Museum. I asked the lady there if there were more pictures of Danny Barker, because I like the way he dressed, and she said, ‘You know, you actually look like Danny Barker.’ I was pretty ecstatic at that.
I’m calling this drink Banjo Alley because there’s a story of how Danny Barker had to hide in an alley from Roosevelt’s bodyguards because of his song, ‘Don’t You Feel My Leg.’ It was playing on a truck, driving around promoting Barker’s record, while Roosevelt was in New York at the Salem Crescent Church, a prominent black church in Harlem—just outside—and it’s a racy song, ‘If you feel my thigh, you’re goin’ to go up high …’ So Roosevelt’s security asked about the song and found out that Danny Barker was inside the church. Danny Barker hid in a dumpster while they were looking for him.
These days, bartenders are being sent around the country like we’re jazz musicians. Making drinks because they want to have a New Orleans night in Hong Kong, then Moscow, France, and this August I’m going to Indonesia.
You know the guy who got sent to New York to make a Ramos Gin Fizz for Huey P. Long? Well, I’m being sent to New York. I know I’m not as cool as Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and all that, but I’m representing New Orleans.
I do old school. Many of our drinks are just as historic as many of our songs. New Orleans created a lot of cocktails and with the whole cocktail craze, people find out some drinks come from New Orleans and want a guy from New Orleans to come and make it for them.
Nowhere else have I felt the appreciation for working in the service industry that I’ve found here in New Orleans. We’re part of the party that is New Orleans; we can be characters in New Orleans. Everyone can become a character if you get it; that New Orleans is really a fantastic play with the best backdrop, real-time choreography and a soundtrack that trumps all others.”
1 1/4 ounce Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky
1/2 ounce Laphroaig Single Malt 10-Year Scotch Whisky
1/2 ounce Meletti Amaro Liqueur
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain over fresh ice. Serve with an umbrella, preferably in a tiki glass.