Richard Odell, bartender (RO): I’m Richard.
Marc Paradis, musician (MP): That’s my middle name!
RO: Dick in the middle. Got it. [laughs] Well, come on back here. Just remember that this bar is 160 years old, so at your own risk…
MP: What did you make for us?
RO: For Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, I was thinking, what’s dirtier and stankier and funkier than a 60-year-old construction worker? See, there’s this guy who comes in every day and drinks his tequila and an IPA. That sounds terrible, I know…
RO: So I thought, naturally I’d make this drink that fancy, and call it the Dirty Note. It looks like a dirty, stinky martini.
MP: Do you mind? Fellas? [grabs glass and sips]
RO: It’s kind of a margarita with a floral hop note…
MP: The olive goes good with it.
RO: I actually haven’t tasted it myself.
MP: You should! I would not have guessed that hops would get along with tequila, but it’s actually cool—even if on paper it sounds gross.
RO: When you make the Hopitoulas syrup, you should use just plain white sugar. People like to fool around with turbinado, and it does have a beautiful flavor, but hops are surprisingly delicate and you want them to shine through. Also, I didn’t apply any heat to this. I didn’t simmer it. It just takes a while for the sugar to dissolve. I stuck it in a hot water bath for a second, half sugar and half beer—couple of pinches of salt—and made it no more than body temperature.
RO: I’ve talked with other bartenders about their creative processes. I tend to be either right on the money or I abandon the entire idea, because the other option is to sink a lot of time into it and end up screwing your drink up by making it really complicated. I tend to keep it simple. There really are only 10 or 15 great cocktails in the world.
RO: I’ve been here at Tujague’s for a year and a half. Before this I was at Doris Metropolitan. I’ve been bartending in the Quarter for five or six years—time’s slipping… Tujague’s has America’s oldest continuously operating standup bar, dating back to 1856. The Dirty Note isn’t connected to any of them, but some classic cocktails were created here at Tujague’s, like Philip Guichet’s Grasshopper and the Whiskey Punch. He won the Early Times [National MixedDrink] Competition with his Whiskey Punch in 1956.
RO: So, why Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes? I’ve always enjoyed their music. Good, funky, jazzy stuff; very much a New Orleans band. I have lots of memories of seeing them with my brother, sneaking into Tipitina’s. I was probably underage. Don’t tell anyone.