“Immediately, I was drawn towards metal; I’m a metal head, shall we say, since my early 20s. I grew up in a very strict Pentecostal christian family so my access to music was very limited. When I moved out on my own, the first thing I got into was heavier music. Moving to New Orleans, I realized that there was a huge metal scene here. There are some very influential bands that I used to listen to that I didn’t know were from New Orleans; bands that play such good, heavy rock and roll. When you first mentioned this concept, I figured most people will be drawn towards jazz and jazz musicians, but metal is my music. Initially, I was drawn to Phil Anselmo. But then, a few days ago, the drummer of Eyehategod died, Joey LaCaze, and he was 42, so I wanted to create this cocktail for him. Making a physical representation of a person, something you can drink and taste; I wanted this to reflect his heavy music, something that’s very percussive and has that Eyehategod doom and gloom. Very, very slow; the tempo is slow, but drives its point home. Very robust flavors and heavy layers. As you take a sip of this, there are five distinct flavors that will hit you, and they hit very, very hard.
I went whiskey right away, it had to be whiskey. Whiskey is the alcohol of metal, in my opinion. Especially Jack Daniel’s. A lot of songs have been written about whiskey, like Thin Lizzy’s ‘Whiskey in the Jar,’ an old Irish drinking song that was covered by Metallica, and George Thorogood’s ‘I Drink Alone.’
My first idea was to go with something firey. Using spice, using cinnamon, hot peppers, something like that. Conjuring up the damnation I was fed as a child, that rock and roll is from the devil. So I went in that direction and eventually settled on just black pepper to get a little bit of spice. The strong black-pepper flavor accentuates the heat of the whiskey and the burn of the alcohol. And then I wanted a bitter component and I’m a big fan of the Zucca Rabarbaro, a rhubarb amaro, an Italian liqueur, that’s very strongly flavored as well. Then there had to be an acid component, which is lemon juice. And the last flavor is ginger. Most ginger liqueurs tend towards the sweet side and don’t stay true to the sharpness of ginger, but this particular one stays very true. Five ingredients, all very strong in flavor, and it just tastes like Eyehategod.
If I’d made a drink for Goatwhore, it wouldn’t be the same. They’re more uptempo than Eyehategod and they find a groove a little bit easier. I would still want a firey component, but I would dial back on the flavors and put a little bit more subtlety in there so it’s not like being smashed in the head with a two-by-four—slowly.
Music is an intrinsic part of being in a bar, rarely you go to a bar that’s silent. For me, personally, being a musician when I started bartending, I had a very strong feeling about being behind the bar, having the music going, creating the right environment. I rarely play now, but I started on piano when I was quite young, and then played violin, trumpet and saxophone, and then a little bit of drums and then guitar for a long time.
I always has a strong affinity for dining out. As a child, it was my favorite thing to do in the world. When I was in college, playing music, needing money, I made my way in behind a bar and the owner had me pour water—pour an ounce, pour an ounce and a half—and when I got it right, he gave me a shot behind the bar. For me, it snowballed from there. People liked what I made, so I kept with it.”
The Question & The Answer
- 1 1/2 ounce Sazerac rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce Zucca Rhubarbara amaro
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce King’s Ginger liqueur
- 1/2 ounce black peppercorn syrup
Black Peppercorn Syrup
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) black peppercorns, ground or crushed
- 16 ounces almost boiling water
- 32 ounces sugar
First, prepare peppercorn syrup.
- Add pepper to hot water, steep for 30 minutes, then strain (layer cheesecloth in a tea strainer), add sugar to liquid and stir until sugar melts.
Second, combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
- Pour over plenty of ice cubes in a glass.
- Stir and strain into a glass.
- Rub a piece of lemon peel around the rim, then serve drink with peel.