“I just moved here from Florida three months ago. Worked as a beverage director and bar manager down at a little place in Delray Beach called Max’s Harvest. Delray is about 30 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale, small little laid-back beach town—one of the original beach communities. Everyone in South Florida loves mojitos, and every bartender hates making them. They gave me the reigns of the bar and I pretty much taught myself. It was a farm-to-fork concept so I tried to use local ingredients. That’s why, with this cocktail, I chose Louisiana sweet corn and Pepperland Farms habanero pepper jelly, which also has Ponchatoula strawberries; I won’t touch a California strawberry ever again now. The strawberries here are so delicious! I moved to New Orleans for this restaurant, but I can’t wait to get out and explore more of Louisiana.
In my mind, New Orleans is the cocktail capital of the world. Very liquor-driven. You can drink for 24 hours and have it to go. I like bitter cocktails, and I love wine. Right now I’m desperately craving a sparkling rosé, but I can’t have it [Ashleigh is seven months pregnant]—so that’s probably why.
My fiancé is originally from Kenner and he’s also the chef de cuisine here at DTB. We’re going to have our second baby on the fourth of July.
I made fresh corn milk for this cocktail. You make it by shucking the fresh corn and then shaving it, cut the kernels off as close to the core as possible and then shave out more milk from the husk by scraping it with the back of a knife. Most of the milk is actually in the stem of the corn. Then you run the kernels and the milk in a blender and pass it through a fine-mesh sieve. First, I tried just muddling [essentially mashing] the corn, but I didn’t get as much flavor as I wanted, so that’s why I did it like this.
I used to not like Mezcal much by itself. So I started mixing tequila with it to a point where I was able to have it on the rocks. I find tequila adds vibrancy and I feel I can taste the agave more.
The strawberry dust that goes on top is easy to make. You take freeze-dried or dehydrated sliced strawberries and run them in a spice grinder.
The Revivalists was really the first band that got me into New Orleans music. They have great energy and make their audience feel good. I love their connections with each other on stage. When my fiancé and I started dating, The Revivalists was the first group he introduced me to and he used to sing me that song, ‘Up In the Air.’ In the second line of the chorus, the song goes ‘…with a magnolia smile…’ so that’s the reason for the name of this cocktail.”