“Right after Hurricane Katrina, I worked at the Copeland’s on the Westbank. This was right after Fats had lost his house in the Ninth Ward and he came in one day in pure Fats regalia, with the boat captain outfit and everything else, and he came up to the bar and asked me—apparently Fats likes to drink sherry—did we have sherry? We didn’t, so I ran to the CVS that was right next door and picked up a bottle of Dry Sack just so I had something for him to drink. ‘Here you go, Mr. Domino! Here’s your sherry.’ And he was like, ‘Baby, call me Fats.’ After that initial conversation, he was the coolest human being I’ve ever met in my life.
I wanted to make a cobbler, a traditional summertime drink for him. Since I knew Fats likes sherry, I was thinking I could make a blueberry shrub—‘Blueberry Hill’ was the inspiration for that. And then I put Seven Three Distilling’s St. Roch Vodka in there, which made sense, because it’s close to the Ninth Ward and really good—everything just tied in together. This is like a really tricked out Cosmopolitan—the kind of Cosmopolitan I’d drink; no cranberry juice, no triple sec.
Shrubs are a great way to preserve fresh fruits and berries—especially in New Orleans with the short growing season. It’s a great way to preserve local fruit. A shrub can last you a year if you keep it refrigerated.
I’ve been bartending since I was 18. Way back when Bruning’s was on the lake, I was a bar-back there and a friend of mine was a manager at a different bar and asked if I really wanted to bar-back or if I wanted to work as a bartender. Later, I went to Lafayette to go to school and bartended in the college bars around there, and then I came back to New Orleans again.
‘Walking to New Orleans’ is probably my favorite Fats song. When I got back to New Orleans after the storm, it was the first song playing on the jukebox when I walked into Le Bon Temps. The whole ordeal with the storm and then coming back to familiar but bizarre surroundings and having that song play when I walked in, I was like, ‘Now I’m back home.’”