“I made a cocktail for Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington because when I first moved to New Orleans I got a job at Boucherie uptown and one of my regulars was Hank Staples of the Maple Leaf—such a sweet man. He’d come to the bar and have dinner and write his name on a paper napkin and we’d call them ‘hankies’ [laughs]. Anyway, he gave them to all of us on the staff so that after our shift we could go dancing and drinking at the Maple Leaf. You presented your ‘hanky’ at the door and the door people let us in for free so we could see some music. Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington played the first night I ever went out and that was the first time I had really seen music like that.
My parents lived here and went to medical school at Tulane. They worked at Charity [Hospital] for a long time, so I heard so many crazy stories about New Orleans growing up in Portland, Oregon. They were working at Charity in the ’80s, so I heard some crazy shit. We had come down here to visit a few times, but I had this whole idea of New Orleans that was so magical.
Seeing Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington—awesome guy with a dangly earring—playing the coolest music… That was like, ‘What is this place?’ Then I started seeing him around town. One of my favorite bars was Pal’s, and I’d see him at Pal’s all the time, just drinking, hanging out.
When I started working here at N7, since it’s a French-Japanese place, I started getting really interested in Japan. There, people drink chuhai, which is shochu mixed with soda or fruit juice or something. So I made a chuhai for Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington—as if Pal’s was in Japan… We were joking and saying we should call this cocktail WWWWWD, or What Would Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington Drink? [laughs] But that was just too silly.
N7 is like the I-10, the N stands for ‘national’ in French—N7 is the name of the highway that bisects France. In August, people pack up their cars and families and hop on the N7 and stop on the way at farmhouses that do popups for hungry travelers. And it became such a big thing that the Michelin tire company made an index of the popups and gave them a star—a Michelin star, that’s the origin. So we do small plates for people who want to relax, hang out and drink wine. Lots of wine, or chuhai.”