“I picked Jarboe, a musician who’d sing with Swans and Neurosis in the ’80s, but also does a lot of experimental rock and has released like 11 albums, still under the radar. Her full name is Jarboe La Salle Devereaux, and I always thought it was a stage name, but looking her up, I learned that she’s from New Orleans and that totally made sense, as to why she has this crazy name and her sound. She was trained classically as an opera singer and has organ training, and then started singing weird rock music. So I wanted to make a funky drink inspired by that—avant-garde, dark, super-bizarro, but amazing.
So I made a really weird drink. It’s called the Mahakali, which is the name of her ninth studio album, named after the Hindu goddess Kali, the goddess of time and death. I also knew I wanted to do a drink with red wine, because of her old-world flavor and classical training.
There’s a Spanish drink called Kalimotxo, which is Coke and red wine, and this is a spin on that. It’s definitely off-putting at first, but after a couple of sips—or listens—you get it, ‘I appreciate this now.’ It’s a weird hybrid between Kalimotxo, rum and Coke and a red wine punch.
Jarboe has this androgyny about her, which I’ve always liked. I discovered Swans in high school and didn’t really appreciate them. I feel her music has an underlying mystical element to it, not unlike New Orleans with its old energy and old soul, which comes through in her music.
I grew up in Virginia but I’ve been here off and on for about eight years. I moved up to New York for a couple, did a brief six months in Hong Kong, and then came back here. That’s what everyone does who move away from New Orleans—they eventually figure out that it’s part of them.
In New York I was a cocktail server. I originally moved there to do modeling, but, ‘You’re too short.’ And I was like, ‘I know…’ So I was working as a cocktail server at 19 and couldn’t bartend yet, but I was getting all of this amazing knowledge. I realized this could be a career.
You’re not just pouring things into other things meaninglessly. You’re working with flavor, and you get to have these artistic expressions. So I wanted to learn everything I could while I was there and it was awesome because every week we’d focus on a different spirit and taste everything we had. I’d ask the bartenders a million questions about mechanics and technique—like, why are you shaking this one, and why are you stirring that one?
Opening Manolito has been really fun. There was one day when we had to dig into the ground to put the grease traps in, and we found a cannonball. In New Orleans, you never know what you’re standing above.”