Road Notes: Day 112
We spent the morning on our usual routine of reading and coffee. I’m into Wayne Curtis’s “And a Bottle of Rum” now that Branden is finished. Due to lack of selection, Branden has been forced into reading about wine and has picked up Kevin Zraly’s “Windows on the World.” I highly recommend this book. Even if you hate wine, pick it up just to read the introduction. His account of working at the World Trade Center during 9/11 is quite moving.
Today we met up with Wayne Curtis for drinks at Tujague’s. Some background…
Wayne Curtis is an author and historian, covering a wide variety of topics. He is best known for his groundbreaking book “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails." He was the author of the Drinks column for The Atlantic for many years, is currently a contributing editor for Imbibe, and has written about spirits for a number of other publications. He started writing about booze at the beginning of the American craft spirit and cocktail revival, making him an authority of all things booze.
Wayne suggested that we meet up at Tujague’s Restaurant for a few reasons:
It has been a New Orleans staple for over 160 years (but it seems that most places in the French Quarter are that way. Everything is old.)
It has a beautiful backbar that was imported from France in 1856, and who knows how old it was at that time.
Paul Gustings, celebrity bartender and long-time New Orleans personality, was returning to the bar at Tujague’s after many years away.
We met Wayne and Paul and threw back a few drinks…sazeracs and Paul’s original, “El Libertador” (rum, lemon juice, shit tons of Angostura bitters, simple syrup, acid phosphate). It was amazing to hear about Wayne’s history, his perspective of New Orleans, and his observations of the bar renaissance over the past decade. We covered everything…New Orleans cocktail traditions, Mardi Gras, hurricane Katrina, voodoo, and of course recommendations for places to eat/drink in the city.
Leaving the bar, we all headed to Frenchmen St. for hot dogs and music. I am constantly in awe of the wealth of live music in this city. Instruments such as the tuba and trombone that are only typically seen in high school marching bands in the rest of the country are commonplace here in bands of all genres. On top of that, the tuba player is usually the most highly regarded member of the band and performs killer solos. We listened to: an 8 piece band of young guys set up on the street corner, a band at d.b.a. consisting of a tuba, guitar, and homemade washboard percussion set-up, and a swing band at Spotted Cat. This city pulses with music. Spending so much time with Wayne was truly a privilege. He was incredibly easy to talk to, full of interesting information and insights, and fun to be around. We are both so thankful to have spent so much time with him.
Parting ways with Wayne, we ran into the filming of a scene from Preacher season 2. We took a few turns to get around the set and somehow stumbled into Santos, a new bar in the French Quarter. The bartender talked to us about the rise and fall of the New Orleans goth “dark wave” fueled by Anne Rice’s vampire novels. Could this city get any more badass?
Road Notes are timed entries—written in thirty minutes or less at the end of each day.