I listen as a woman orders a jack and coke.
“We don’t have Jack here,” the bearded barkeep says with a slow southern drawl. “I recommend Buffalo Trace. It is the most similar.” The woman asks about vodkas, what about Titos. “I can make anything that calls for vodka with Titos. Do you like pineapple?”
Yes, she replies with a certain unease as all of her go-to drinks are denied at a prohibition inspired cocktail bar.
“I know an excellent cocktail with vodka and pineapple,” he says with a cordial hospitality. He wins her over with the principle of saying no and offering a solution.
A metal library ladder is used to access the bottles on the back bar, the selection of gins and bourbons and amaros is quite large. Big barrels act as extra shelving units and another is hollowed and used as a service pass. The space has a NOLA flair with steampunk decor. Chandeliers hang above dining tables. A duct and an old milk can has been transformed into a floating tap system that dominates the bar. It acts as a barrier between the bartenders and patrons and allows them to carefully concoct each drink without too much distraction.
I order the Dandy (rye, cocchi torino, dry curacao, cardamaro, and agnostura). Each drink on the short list has tasting notes – the Dandy will be stirred, dark spice, light bitter, sweetness. It is deep, sweet vermouth forward, with a gentle bitter finish. It tastes like home, and by that I mean drinking in New York. I muse on the NOLA-style cocktail bars around the country — the one I sit, Maison Premeire, Bo’s — and how the formula for a NOLA bar is not like most bars in New Orleans. It is as if these bars are attempting to recreate things from photos. However the spirit of prohibition and New Orleans is recreated, accurate or embellished, it is well done.