“I was going for something almost cartoonishly French. Calling it Cartoonishly French also crossed my mind, but I think the Royal Garden Sour fits better. Sidney Bechet’s ‘Royal Garden Blues’ was my sonic inspiration, so vivacious and upbeat.
In the experimental phase of this I got pretty lit up on Pernod. It just feels wrong to throw away those rinses. Like most drinks, it’s kind of an intuitive or spontaneous process. You think about something for a long time and then [snaps fingers] let it do its thing. I thought of squeezing some Lillet into this, too, but that’s possibly overkill.
I love cassis. A kir is the most under-rated two-ingredient drink. People—especially maybe men—are afraid to drink it. But if you go to Burgundy, there are all these old guys sitting around crushing cigarettes and drinking kir…
[I tell him the story of why I don’t much care for anise-based drinks such as Pernod, because of an experience I had a long time ago when I mistook a glass of ouzo for water.] I had a similar experience with hydrogen peroxide, which I chugged as a child, thinking it was water. My mom had inexplicably put it into an unmarked glass jar and I came home and chugged the whole thing. Things got weird. I became a human fire hose. I might have had drinking experiences that bad since, but I literally can’t remember. I’ve gotten pretty good at drinking over the years. It’s funny, I lived in Chicago before this and I probably drink less here than I did in Chicago.
I first came down in 2010. I took the train. Only vaguely considered the possibility of moving to New Orleans, but definitely looking to leave the big city. Aurora was maybe the first musician I saw. It was completely incidental. I was wandering down Frenchmen, a Wednesday or Thursday evening in April. Went into Three Muses, sitting at the bar, back turned to the stage, but as soon as she ripped into that clarinet it was like a palpable physical reaction. Sidney Bechet is my favorite musician and he might possibly [obvious understatement] be a significant influence for her as well. To hear someone remotely capturing that powerful piercing vibrato still is to me a drug-like sensation. And the hangover isn’t nearly as bad. Music remains the single biggest inebriant I know of.
As far as ingredients, I went with overtly classical ’20s ingredients that would have been widely consumed at that point in this town as well as in France. Old-school, but fresh. A lot of time you see drinks with these ingredients that don’t have any citrus element and they might sound good on paper but when you drink them they’re heavy-handed and really kind of gross. This is my attempt to approach those ingredients like Aurora might the music: keeping it alive and up to date, while still being classical in origin.”