“If someone asks me for something special, this is what I make for them. It’s basically a weird take on a Negroni. Both of these spirits are from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Hoodoo chicory liqueur is amaro-ish, sort of like a southern amaro with a nice, smoky quality, and this is their gin—it’s made by the same company that makes Cathead vodka. And on top, I’m putting a dehydrated satsuma slice, which enhances the citrusy quality to the cocktail. We use special equipment to do this here at Coquette, but you can probably put it in a regular oven, too, on very low heat.
This is like a Negroni, but not with equal parts. Normally it would be vermouth, Campari and gin—both bitter and sweet. This version is only slightly sweet and what I like to drink myself. Negronis, bitters, Boulevardiers… Sometimes I’ll go for a Paloma.
I originally worked for Ancora for five years. I worked for Adolfo Garcia for seven, actually. I started bartending at 20 at Ancora—I wasn’t legally old enough to drink, or taste the drinks I made, but I could still serve. What drew me to bartending was making liqueurs, shrubs and syrups. Love doing that! I guess I really wanted to cook, but my parents were like ‘No. You should be in the front of the house.’ Bartending was like a beautiful medium. I actually went to school for restaurant and tourism management at UNO, so my parents don’t mind me being a bar manager.
I wanted to make this drink for Leon Bridges because he has family in New Orleans, but was raised in Texas. One of the reasons I like Leon Bridges is that I was born in New Orleans, but my parents would send me to Honduras a lot. I know he feels like both New Orleans and Texas is his home and I feel like that too, between New Orleans and Honduras. We play his music during brunch here at Coquette because it has this ’40s-’50s kind of vibe. That’s the kind of music my parents would play when they had parties and things like that. We listen to a lot of music at our family events.
I love Leon Bridges’ song ‘Mississippi Kisses.’ It’s the kind of song that puts me in a good mood no matter how busy or how slow we are at the restaurant. Since both the gin and the chicory liqueur are from Mississippi, the name works.
We try to have fun with our cocktails here, but also to respect the classics. Almost like Leon Bridges—creating something new, but still, going back to the classics. That’s what I like about him, and that’s what I like about bartending too.”