“I picked Louis Prima to be my inspiration for this cocktail because I think he represents New Orleans and a lot of the Italian influences on our cuisine and on our culture here. [Some 100 years ago, the French Quarter was more Italian than French.] Also, I love, love, love Italian food, and Louis Prima helped popularize it and a lot of Italian words, like antipasto and chicken parmigiana all over the country.
I named this cocktail The Swing King. It’s made with Ford’s Gin, which has juniper berries from Sicily, Italy, and it made sense to use an Italian amaro that has some nice notes of rose and citrus in it. The bubbles in here put a little zip in your swing, too.
It’s been a whirlwind of excitement being part of the opening of Bywater American Bistro [this March, across from NOCCA in the old Mariza location]. I was part of opening a restaurant before, but I wasn’t the main go-to person, more like an assistant or lead bartender. It’s been incredible. The way it happened is that I started working at Compère Lapin and worked there for at least two years and then one day, Chef Nina Compton called me and said that they wanted me to run the bar program over here. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say, but of course my answer was yes. I just had so many questions… But here I am!
I’m from Belle Chasse, grew up there. Been bartending for about 15 years now, and it’s been well worth it. My first bartending job was a little hole-in-the-wall place on Belle Chasse [Highway] that served beer and highballs. I made my hundred dollars and was totally fine with that. ‘I’m 18 years old and I got $100! Whoa!’ But making that every day—it really was great.
I love citrus and I love bitters. I love gin martinis and wine and French 75s. Every now and again I’ll really enjoy a Sazerac. It’s the official cocktail of New Orleans, but I love going to other places and watching the bartenders to see how they make it.”