“The artist I made this drink for is Kaye the Beast. He’s a local rapper in the up-and-coming phase, but I’ve seen him a few times around town and he’s super-engaging, really energetic; an inspiring hustler. At first he comes across as escapist, but in recent months he’s started to comment more on social issues that surround the poor communities of New Orleans. He also has a few really great music videos that have come out recently. When I think, who’s the voice of the New Orleans community, I think of people who both know how to enjoy life but also don’t shy away from some of the worse aspects of the city, aren’t afraid to comment on what goes on—inequality, police violence, things like that. Kaye is very cognizant of that and it comes through in his music, but at the same time, other parts of his music is all about enjoying a party, meeting people and engaging with the community in a more positive way.
For this drink, I used a ghost pepper–infused tequila from Mexico. What really comes through on the palate is bright berry with a little bit of heat at first, and then the traditional tequila vegetal flavors—which works really well, because what we’re doing is using a jam made by our kitchen that’s raspberry and jalapeño. You get the sweet and the heat, and I add a touch of lime for acidity.
When you taste it, it’s almost like salsa on the front end, and then the umami-vegetal flavors, and then you get the pepper. It all fades into something really refreshing.
[Speaking of Kaye the Beast’s second album, Salt, from 2017…] It’s interesting how a little bit of salinity affects a drink. It takes the citrus and brightens it. It also offsets the astringency of booze in general and gives any drink a bigger mouth feel. Salt is amazing! Realizations like this continue to expand the drinking pantheon—we’re not done yet. For example, one of the drinks on our menu here is a Caribbean sidecar, using allspice and pear brandy, and the rim is equal measures salt and sugar. It’s very good.
Can you believe it—lately, I’ve been dealing with, of all things, cat scratch fever. Not a music joke… It’s a bacterial infection caused by cats scratching you. It starts in the skin and moves through the lymphatic system—my throat is still a bit closed up because of it, so if you can’t hear me from across the bar—sorry. Last week, I had this large rash and swelling on my face.
It was my own cat, too!”