“I picked Irma Thomas for a lot of reasons. Sentimental value, I guess. Almost 10 years ago—I grew up in Slidell—Irma Thomas was maybe the first New Orleans artist I ‘discovered.’ Her music means a lot to me. I grew up playing guitar and singing and soul music is something I’ve always connected with the most because it suits my vocal range, and her music sits right there, perfectly. I sing Irma Thomas wherever it strikes me. In the shower—and other places [laughs].
‘If time would stand still’ is a line from her song ‘Straight from the Heart.’ My favorite Irma Thomas song is ‘It’s Raining,’ but aside from the line ‘It’s raining’ there wasn’t a whole lot that stood out to me to name a drink after, so I went with the other one.
As far as ingredients, I worked backwards from a concept. I wanted the austerity of a classic cocktail that could be timeless, but also a little bit off the beaten path and with a really long finish. I’ve been on a sherry kick lately so I made it half sherry, half cognac. Cognac is appropriate because it’s a long-standing spirit, timeless and hopeful, and it has a lot of history to it, like soul music and Irma Thomas. I think of Irma Thomas and her relationship to New Orleans like I think of cognac and its relationship to New Orleans.
I got into bartending by accident. I started off in the service industry at 17 years old at the Ruby Tuesday’s in Slidell, and I did almost every job there, except tending bar. After that, I told myself that I wasn’t going to work in the service industry anymore. I did a little bit of volunteering, some interior design stuff—I went to school for interior design—and then decided I wanted to work in cabinetry. Moved to New York to work in a cabinetry shop and started tending bar on the side to subsidize my income. As it turns out, I really dislike doing cabinetry work for other people, while I genuinely enjoy making drinks. And that’s how I ended up here. I got offered this job at the Piscobar at the Catahoula Hotel several months before we opened, which was in May of 2016. When I did my interview they hadn’t even begun to build the bar! It was just scaffolding and I was like, ‘Okay. I believe you…’ But hey, it worked out!”