Bryan Batt, the darling Mad Man of Nola, wrote a great article about throwing a partay at his carriage house in Nola, highlighting some of his (and my!) fave spots. The link to the arti is here, but I had to include the text for you lazy boneses out there.
Party at the carriage house.
A Madly Stylish Party in New Orleans
Actor Bryan Batt downs martini after martini on TV's 1960s-era Mad Men. He also loves having cocktails at home in New Orleans. He celebrates the city's great cocktails and great style with a party in his old carriage house.
By Bryan Batt
I love my job—or should I say jobs? For the past three years, I've worn the smartest early-1960s suits and skinny ties as Salvatore Romano on AMC's hit series Mad Men. A typical day on the set might require me to drink four or five martinis or Manhattans. Well, I'll admit, they aren't real drinks. A TV martini is water with an olive in it, and a TV Manhattan is tea with a maraschino cherry. I learned a valuable lesson while filming the pilot: Don't eat those cherries. After 50 takes and 50 cherries, red dye practically dripped from my ears.
My other job is in my hometown of New Orleans: I co-own a home-furnishings shop on Magazine Street called Hazelnut, which means I'm always on the hunt for beautiful design. I'm also constantly adding pieces to my own personal collection and using them for cocktail parties, like the one that appears on these pages.
My love of all things cocktail began long ago. I actually have a photograph of my grandmother giving me a silver mint julep cup for my second birthday. Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around my parents' soirees. At the age of five, I would walk through the crowd with an olive-skewered swizzle stick to dip into unsuspecting guests' drinks. Toward the end of the evening, I could often be found under the kitchen table making polite cocktail chitchat with an imaginary friend.
Bryan prepping for his bash.
These days, I get my cocktails at a fabulous new local spot called Cure. So I recently asked the owner and mixologist, Neal Bodenheimer, and chef, Jason McCullar, to cater a party at my turn-of-the-century carriage house. Creating the guest list was simple, too. New Orleans is the biggest "little town" in the country; I've often thought there are only six people here and the rest is done with mirrors. I made a few calls, my friends Margaret and Sallie Jones of Scriptura (who design the best stationery in town) did the invitations and the plans were underway.
Neal modernized a few classic cocktails, like the martini; in contrast to Mad Men's high-octane vodka version, his is a softer, more food-friendly mix of half gin, half vermouth. Jason prepared hors d'oeuvres that included a brilliant spin on New Orleans's classic shrimp remoulade. Proving that bartenders aren't the only ones who can experiment with spirits, he poached the shrimp in vermouth and swapped out the traditional mayonnaise-based dressing for a zippy, gingery dipping sauce. His paprika-smoked baby back ribs in a sherry-spiked glaze were terrific with Neal's French 75 cocktail, as well as with the Aria cava procured from my friends who own the Wine Institute of New Orleans (a.k.a. WINO). By the time we got to dessert, a rich chocolate tiramisu, there wasn't a dry glass in the house.
**Editor's note: I love WINO and think that it is one of the most delightful wine bars in Nola.
Up close shot of the Cure martini.
Okay, as if Bryan Batt, Mad Men references, and a party with champers (in Nola) aren't enough to make me convulse, Food and Wine also included a supplemental piece called "New Orleans' Best Design Street," referencing some great stops on Magazine Street. Of course, I have discussed one of my fave shops, Hazelnut, on multiple occasions (have I ever mentioned that B.B. is co-owner?), but there are some other great spots included. Here is the link to the slideshow.
There are some really special shops highlighted. If you are visiting, some of the spots mentioned have walkable (if not five minute drivable) distances between them.
My personal faves include:
Perch: One of my absolute favorite stores on Magazine. You can ALWAYS find something fab there....whether a tiny giftie or some amazing piece of furniture that you have to save for, but will have forever. Perfectly styled, perfectly edited...oh, and the nicest people (hi, Vamp!) You can subscribe to Perch's blog here, which is a great read. Giveaways, too.
GO to Perch. You will not be disappointed. (oh, and they also have a pretty nice selection of e-commerce, too, just if you cannot jump on a plane and head here tomorrow)
N + O: I absolutely love love love the "look" and style of N + O. Their art selection is one of the best on Mag, in my humble little opinion. You can also hop over to Julie Neill's other store, Julie Neill, which is right next door for amazing design overload. My favorite part about N + O/Julie Neill are the fab painters/faux finishers in the back though... (hi, Christine!) GO to N + O and say hello. You will not be disappointed. They are super sweet and helpful and all around fun in there!
Hazelnut: Of course. Not much more needs to be said about how much I love every single item in the perfectly-edited Hazelnut.
I hope this post was edumecational for you. One of my great passions is obviously New Orleans and, mostly, sharing it with you. I always want visitors to be steered right and inspired by their time in our little corner of the world. My main goal is to keep guests eating the best food they can eat, seeing the showstopper stores and sights, and, of course, knowing that there is more to Nola than blinking boobie beads! (unless you solely want to know about where to find blinking boobie beads and then your wish is my command, of course!)
P.S. Ladies and gents, the fan is still for sale....$40.00!