All posts by Richard

First Bartendro, Now Monsieur: Why Don’t You People Want To Mix Your Own Drinks?

A few months ago, we stumbled across Bartendro, which promised/threatened to end bartending as we know it. Though the device looked a little sketchy — like a trailer park meth lab fueled by booze — the concept was there. We knew it was just a matter of time before someone took the basic idea and spruced it up.

And behold, someone has:

On the upside, “Monsieur” is probably a better name than “Bartendro”, which is a little campy for most tastes.

On the downside…well, look, we understand that sometimes you just want a quick drink, without all the muss and fuss. We get it.  Really. But Monsieur is missing two key ingredients found in truly exceptional cocktails:

1. Freshness. There’s no telling how long some of Monsieur’s ingredients sit in its dark little confines. You know what a container of OJ looks like after a week in your fridge? You wanna make a cocktail with that?

2. Creativity. Sure, a by-the-book Pimm’s Cup can be refreshing. But sometimes, we have a hankering for something different, or we want to improve on a time-honored classic. What if we have a hankering for fresh ginger in that Pimm’s Cup? What if we want to send our Madras down South with apricot nectar instead of OJ? Monsieur can’t cut the mustard.

This gadget — or ones very much like it — will probably be a hit in places like Las Vegas, full of high-end hotels needing high-tech ways to serve thirsty guests and boost profit. But hopefully, there will remain a place for craft cocktails and creative bartenders for many years to come.

Or at least until our livers give out.

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Come See Us: Launch Parties, Signings, Readings, And More For The French Quarter Drinking Companion

Remember how we said that The French Quarter Drinking Companion was almost here? Well, scratch the almost, because it’s on shelves now! As we see it, you’ve got three ways to grab a copy of your very own:

  1. Purchase one at your favorite independent bookseller or big-box shop.
  2. Visit Barnes & NobleAmazon, or any other online retailer to have one delivered right to your home.
  3. Come to one of our parties/readings/book-signings, and get one directly from us. Heck, we’ll even autograph it for you! (You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

Here’s a list of events we’ve planned so far:

Saturday, September 7
Book-signing

A Tisket A Tasket
Mandeville, Louisiana
1:30pm – 3:30pm

Sunday, September 29
Launch party

This is the big one! Join us for light refreshments and readings from The French Quarter Drinking Companion. Complimentary Sazerac with every book purchase!
One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
2:00pm – 5:00pm

Thursday, October 3
Reading and book-signing

Garden District Book Shop, 2727 Prytania
New Orleans, Louisiana
6:00pm – 7:30pm

Saturday, October 12
Book-signing
Barnes & Noble, 3721 Veterans Boulevard
Metairie, Louisiana
1:00pm – 3:00pm

Wednesday, October 16
Party and book-signing
Maple Street Books, 7523 Maple Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Saturday, December 7
Book-signing
Barnes & Noble, 5705 Johnston Street
Lafayette, Louisiana
Time TBA

Thursday, December 12
Book-signing
Bourbon House, 144 Bourbon Street
New Orleans
5:00pm – 7:00pm

We’ll update that list as new info becomes available and new events get put on the calendar. We hope to see you very soon!

Our Book Is Almost Here: Pre-Order Yours Now!

The French Quarter Drinking Companion

Holy samolians, The French Quarter Drinking Companion is on its way!

Technically speaking, the hard copies won’t be ready for another couple of weeks. (There’s a lot of ink to dry.) However, you — yes, you! — can pre-order your copy today at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or any other online retailer. Do so, and you’ll save a good bit off the retail price!

Stay tuned for more information about book launch parties (where we’ll have real books in hand, ready to sign), readings, and many other events — which will of course be boozy and fun. We hope you’ll join us.

The French Quarter Drinking Companion: Coming This September From Pelican Publishing!

The French Quarter Drinking Companion

It’s finally here! (Well, almost.) Our new book, The French Quarter Drinking Companion, will arrive in stores this September! Here’s a short description:

Pull up a stool and join three long-time New Orleanians as they sip their way through the best drinking neighborhood in America, the French Quarter. From sophisticated saloons to dilapidated dives, this essential guide reveals snapshot narratives of 100 Vieux Carré bars and why drinking remains an essential part of the city’s identity. Written by Allison Alsup, Elizabeth Pearce, and Richard Read, with full-color photographs by John d’Addario and Gavin Macarthur.

The book will arrive on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other websites very soon, and we’ll post links as soon as we get ’em. If you just can’t wait — and of course you can’t, right? — you can pre-order a copy today by contacting Scott Campbell at scampbell@pelicanpub.com or 504-368-1175 ext. 335.

Stay tuned for more info, including details about our fabulous, festive launch party and a full schedule of readings!

Wait, Those Rumors About Tujague’s Are TRUE?

Tujague's (photo by Suzanne Johnson)Well, this ain’t good.

Not long after Tujague’s owner, Steven Latter, passed away in February, we began hearing rumors that the bar/restaurant might be closing.

Naturally, we dismissed such talk as complete nonsense. Tujague’s is ancient. It predates the Civil War (which is ancient in the U.S.). Heck, it opened in the 1850s: it predates much of America. In a city like New Orleans, so devoted to its iconic institutions, there’s no way Tujague’s is going to close.

But now we’re not so sure. When Gambit Weekly asked Latter’s son, Mark Latter, about those rumors, he dodged the question, complaining about the number of “variables” that go into making such a decision. Which does not sound promising AT ALL.

Look, we know that as a restaurant, Tujague’s has seen better days. If you want solid Creole fare, there are plenty of other options in New Orleans. (Although their brisket with horseradish is several bites of heaven.)

But as bars go, there’s nothing like Tujague’s. It’s in a great location, and it’s got a great look: there are no chairs at the bar itself, just a brass bar running along the bottom for tipplers to prop up a foot. It’s not the sort of place we long to spend hours in, like, say, Napoleon House or Cosimo’s — but it doesn’t have to be. Tujague’s is the place we can pop in for a quickie en route to a party, the place where we can seek refuge from inclement weather (or from hordes of frat boys and sorority girls) while sipping a smart cocktail. It’s unique to the city and its drinking landscape.

Yes, we understand the demands of business, and we appreciate the fact that businesses should never outlast their moment (cf. telegraph operators, bromide manufacturers, MySpace). But Tujague’s seems so timeless, it would be hard to let go.

Spring Fling: The Cooper’s Folly Cocktail

Cooper's FollyHere in New Orleans, the weather is changing. It’s the two- or three-week period we call spring, during which Mother Nature teeters on the fence before throwing us into full-tilt summer.

Once that happens, we’ll switch almost entirely to chilled drinks, like nice, frosty Pimm’s Cups and the occasional frozen Separator. But for now, we’re going to enjoy the Cooper’s Folly — a cocktail consisting of mezcal, vermouth, pineapple syrup, and sage leaves. Given that last ingredient, it could probably work just as well in the fall, but frankly, we’re not inclined to wait.

Bartendro: The End Of Boozing As We Know It?

BartendroBartendro is a new gadget at the center of a Kickstarter campaign. In a nutshell, it’s an automated system for serving cocktails: just link your tablet or smartphone to Bartendro’s software, select your favorite cocktail, and wait for it to be dispensed.

On the one hand, we appreciate the ingenuity behind Bartendro. A quick look at the demo video shows that the machine was harder than you might think to create.

Also, automated service like this seems to be the way of the future. Over the past decade or so, countless bars have begun placing gizmos on the spouts of their liquor bottles to measure “perfect pours”. We’re sure the manufacturers of such devices claim that they help bartenders make better drinks, but the bottom line is that they control costs by preventing barkeeps from giving away the shop. Bartendro is the logical next step in that evolution.

On the hand…well, on the other hand, where do we start?

First and foremost, Bartendro can only make the most basic of cocktails on its own. Until the designers coax the machine into shaking, stirring, muddling fruit, chilling glasses, and adding rims of salt, it’s probably not going to be very useful. For parties? Maybe. For serious drinkers who appreciate a mixologist’s touch? Not so much. It’s the kind of thing that might come in handy at some Bourbon Street bars, or on the Vegas strip, but elsewhere, the appeal will be limited.

Second — and perhaps most importantly — Bartendro obviously lacks the human element. If we wanted to drink pitch-perfect gin-and-tonics, we could do so at home. We go out, in part, to be social with friends, strangers, and — yes — the bartender. At this point, Bartendro doesn’t even have the personality of Rosie the Robot, much less that of a bona fide mixologist.

Like cooking, mixing cocktails is an activity that can be replicated by machine, but given today’s technology, the products — and the experience of consuming them — lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. Going forward, there will obviously be a demand for Bartendro and its ilk, and in fact, the Kickstarter project will likely reach its $135,000 goal. But until the machine learns how to smile, listen to our problems, and improvise at our request, we’ll stick with our human barkeeps.