“I’m from New Orleans and I met King Louie [Bankston] when I was 24. I was dating a friend of his at the time, and he was such a crazy character. I loved running into him; I hated running into him. But he was always kind and friendly to me and he’s like a mad scientist when it comes to music. I was involved with New Orleans’ garage rock and punk scene and he was someone I ran into all the time, fascinated by how crazy he was, or how talented. For my 25th birthday, he brought me two records—my second and third record!—and that started a wildfire of record collecting. They were from a band he was in called the Exploding Hearts. I didn’t know much about them, but to this day I listen to those records at least once a week. They’ve become such a big part of what I identify with musically. I wanted to dedicate this cocktail to him because he’s very unexpected and I like that about him. One of my favorite things to do when I make cocktails is to play a trick on people. I like them having a certain perception about how something is going to taste and then go in the completely opposite direction.
People in New Orleans don’t talk much about the punk scene or the rock ‘n’ roll scene, but it’s got deep roots and it’s good stuff. They only talk about jazz and blues and some of the funky folk music, but when I think of New Orleans, I think about rock ‘n’ roll and punk rock and the people I’ve met here over the years.
I worked at Delachaise for a while and then with Neal [Bodenheimer]. I helped open Cure and I was also working for the City Council and fielding all the fun phone calls about pot holes and broken streetlights for Jackie Clarkson, and it was on the weekends that I got to work at Cure. I loved working in the service industry so much that I didn’t want to just do the 9-to-5 job.
In 2011 I moved to Chicago. Such a wonderful art scene. I worked at Big Star and then helped open a place called Analogue. They said we had an identity crisis, but we knew exactly what we wanted to do: craft cocktails and Cajun food and live shows and art and we were a bit of a community center with people getting married, anniversaries, record releases… Fun stuff! But it was challenging communicating all of that. People asked, ‘Are you a restaurant?’ ‘Are you an art space?’ To us there was no conflict, but people were confused. It just wasn’t a concept you could put in a box and present to people.
What we do here at Seaworthy is very rooted in classic cocktails. With the place being so new, I think it’s important to offer products that are well made and not too fussy or esoteric. A cocktail has to be made exactly the same way every time. That doesn’t happen, of course, but if it’s not perfect it doesn’t go out to a customer. I’ll stand at the end of the bar and taste every single cocktail. It gives the bartenders so much anxiety, but it really has taught them to refine their skills, which they can take with them wherever they go.”