Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pre-Jazz Fest Festivities

Jazz Fest! We did not go this weekend (and we don't have tickets for next weekend, at this point) but the whole city is filled with tourists and musicians and it's like a very specific party vibe - different than Mardi Gras. Man, people love Jazz Fest! It's cool to see. An old high school friend that I'd reconnected with on Facebook came into town for the Fest and we made plans to hang out on Thursday night before he got swept up in the Jazz Fest madness. It's the magic of New Orleans and Jazz Fest (possibly aided by the magix of Facebook)- you can just up and hang with folks you haven't seen since 1990, and it's all good.

Jack's a bartender/mixologist (and official "rumologist") in Key West, so I thought it would be fun to bring him to a couple cocktail bars he wouldn't necessarily get to in the course of his festing. I met him at Twelve Mile Limit in Mid-City, which is probably my favorite bar in New Orleans along with the Avenue Pub. Excellent cocktails, awesome vibe. I always love hanging out there, and I think that Jack did too. I had several of the house cocktails (the Lexington, the Great Idea, the No-Name Cocktail) and Jack also enjoyed a Great Idea and when Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails book came out (GREAT book, BTW) to look something up, he pointed out the "Blood and Sand" cocktail to Allie (the bartender) and she mixed one up for him. I also had a Brooklyn Brewing Sorachi Ace, and when Tom met up with us, he had an Anchor Steam (both on draft).

We decided we should leave before we ended up settling in for the rest of the night (it's so comfy and awesome there!) and thought it would be fun to show Jack the development on Freret Street.  We parked the car and decided to take the Ancora dining option, since Tom and I hadn't been there and it was supposed to be excellent. And it was! We had a couple of cocktails- it looks like they do house made limoncello and variations thereof (clemencello, made with clementines; satsuma cello, made with satsumas and was an ingredient in my Ancora Old Fashioned; grapefruit cello, in their Ancora Sazerac) and they're really tasty.  Tom, the ever-patient designated driver, had their house made strawberry soda.

At first, we decided on 2 pizzas for the 3 of us - the Bianca (with olives and capers, yum) and the Meatball (pretty much what it sounds like) - but our waiter convinced us we should add another one, so we did- the Putenesca (tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers). We kind of thought he was upselling us, but what do ya know, we only had a couple pieces left at the end (boxed 'em up for Tom's lunch the next day.) The pizza was good, and definitely different than any other pie in the city. The crust dough is well seasoned and blistered from the raging inferno of the special pizza oven they have imported from Naples. The pies are small, but intensely flavored. INTENSE. Whoo!

After pizza time, we strolled down to Cure for a nightcap. It was pretty hopping, and we grabbed a table near the bar - Jack sat facing the beautiful bar and its thoughtful bartenders and many shelves of bottles of booze. It is indeed a lovely sight. Upon studying the cocktail menu, I decided on the "Floridian Void" (created by Nick Detrich) made with Ferreira white port, yellow chartreuse, Trader Nick's Freret Falernum, lime, honey, and Angostura bitters. Tom had "The Hardest Walk" (created by Turk Dietrich) with Carpano Punt e Mes vermouth, Plantation overproof rum, Gran Classico Bitter, and orange bitters. He said it was "dark and intense, like a sixteen year old poet" (heh.) Jack got the "Arrow in the Gale" (created by James Ives) with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Nardini Mandorla almond grappa, lemon, ginger, strawberry, and black pepper. We did a little round robin to try each other's cocktails- Tom's was definitely the most hardcore, and mine was the most deceptively smooth (served in a highball glass in a straw, no less!)

We quietly sipped our cocktails and digested our pizza. When finished, we drove Jack back to the Quarter and sent him off to the very important business of Jazz Festing.

Happy Jazz Fest, y'all.

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