“I grew up here but spent seven years in California and got spoiled with great wine bars and retailers, so that’s why I opened Pearl. We just had our four-year anniversary. We do live music; I book local acts, or people I know coming through town. I’m a former musician myself; played in high school and college, got a minor in music performance—flute. It will always be part of what I do. I was not a rock ’n’ roll flute girl. I was a total marching band nerd, but I also danced. Dancing took me out to California for drum and bugle corps. Now, I only dance in my kitchen, but I used to teach dance at Tulane. I’m telling you all of this because that’s how Paul [Sanchez] came into my life. His brother taught me in the ’90s when I was doing drum and bugle corps—Paul’s brother Johnny lives down the street. I saw a lot of Paul’s shows, whether that was solo or with Cowboy Mouth, because of his brother. And I just knew as soon as I opened Pearl that I needed to reach out to him, and he comes and plays a couple of times a year, which is really special to me. When he plays, unlike most other groups, it’s very concert-style where there isn’t a lot of conversation going on and he’s storytelling and taking questions and requests. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, and I never miss a show.
Paul doesn’t have to ask when he comes; I just open a bottle of pinot for him. He’s a gentle soul, and I appreciate that about him.
This cocktail was a collaboration. I had an idea in mind—some way to incorporate pinot noir since Paul loves pinot, but pinot can be difficult because it’s easily overpowered, overtaken. I also wanted to collaborate with my staff and make it a team effort because if this is something we’re going to keep around [on the menu], I want them to love it too. I want my passion to come through them.
People ask, ‘What’s your favorite wine?’ That’s like asking, ‘Who’s your favorite child?’ I like them all. But I do love pinot noir.
At Pearl, we try to focus on small producers because those small producers, just like local businesses, are the ones that really make an impact on education, innovation and local—even global—economy, and create quality. If you want to special-order some Barefoot, I’ll let you. But I might try to talk you out of it…”