Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Valentine's Day Inside the Beltway

Whisk your beloved to an elegantly suggestive dining experience at Oya, in downtown DC. How better to say, “I want to jump your bones!” than surrounded by a simplistic white-on-white décor, marked with a splash of red and a backdrop of hanging chains?

A few highlights from Executive Chef Chris Hylton’s five-course tasting menu include Pan Seared Foie Gras with poached pear; Black Cod and Lobster; and for dessert, a Chocolate Box filled with berries and passion fruit mousse.

Andrew Stover, Wine Director and Sommelier pairs each course throughout the meal, and presents a Sparkling Shiraz or Hana Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Rosé Sake, infused with hibiscus and rose hips, with dessert.

Now, if that meal don’t get you lucky, buddy, it may just be a hopeless cause...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fembot For President (?)
As If Our Government Officials Don't Already Screw Around Enough, Svedka Vodka Thinks This Will Solve Our Problems
I can't say they've pursuaded my vote. The "fembot" is already a sexist concept, so is it surprising that they find 'socialized plastic surgery' and 'tax deductible handbags' humorous? Puh-lease.

I'd much prefer to see Svedka market to real women - who actually buy booze, not Fembot wanna-be's - who are most likely under legal drinking age, anyway...

Svedka_grl on Foreign Policy:

Svedka_grl on the Environment:

Svedka_grl on Health Care:

Svedka_grl on the First Amendment:

Svedka_grl on Red States vs. Blue States:

Svedka_grl on Tax Reform:

Svedka_grl on Politics Making Strange Bedfellows:

Svedka_grl on the American Way:

Svedka_grl on Extremism:

Photo courtesy of this site.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SAG Chooses "No Country For Old Men" as Best Film of the Year

And, I Choose a French Wine to Celebrate a Spanish Actor!

"Who are you wearing?" is so much less intersting a question than "Who are you drinking?" as far as I'm concerned.

Last night, I put on my oh-so-glamorous cozy, flannel robe and poured a couple of glasses of Chateau La Boutignane 2004 from the Corbieres region of Southern France, and settled in to watch the SAG Awards. (After a long weekend of brithday celebrations, I needed the
rest!) A note about the wine... for less than $10 the vintage delivers luscious berries, a juicy nose and went very well with the pate de campagne and multi-grain crackers. Bang for the buck!

I've been a member of the Screen Actors Guild for 18 years. (No, I'm not an aging actress. I got started young, ok? Well, ok, maybe I'm aging a little.) Anyhoo...

In addition to celebrating the film industry's most exciting work, this year also marks SAG's 75th Anniversary, which means that we thespians have been protected by our labor union since 1933!

Last night, SAG members chose No Country For Old Men as the best film of the year, which features some incredible performances from the likes of Woody Harrelson (is he ever bad?), Tommy Lee Jones (powerhouse), Josh Brolin (slated to play George W. Bush, next year) and smoldering Spanish hottie Javier Bardem. (Bardem also got the Best Supporting Actor award).

With the Oscars only a matter of weeks away, I'm already preparing for the big night! Who will YOU be drinking?

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.

Friday, January 25, 2008

For those of you who don't already subscribe to the Cocktail of the Week Museletter, here it is! Sign up here for future Cocktail of the Week alerts.

Welcome to The Liquid Muse Highlights of 2007

Well... since I missed Christmas and New Year's, the least I can offer up is a belated-yet-hearty "Happy Martin Luther King Day" along with my best wishes for the New Year. (Thank goodness I bought one of Jill DeGroff's fantastic Cocktailian Calendars to get my schedule or
ganized in 2008!)

Meanwhile, here are some highlights from last year:

I've covered some of my favorite faces and drinks on The Liquid Muse Blog, the Cocktail of the Week Museletter, and The Bartender Diaries. (This month, meet fabulous Lu Brow of the Swizzle Stick Bar, in New Orleans.)

February found me in Finland for the finals of the Finlandia Vodka Cup cocktail competition. Having been a regional judge in Phoenix, it was exciting to see all twenty-two international finalists vie for top honor at the Ice Hotel in Lapland. (some cocktails pictured here) Side note: Eating reindeer carpaccio after being pulled on a sleigh by one of the sad-looking beasts made me feel a bit guilty, and surely didn't score any points with Santa. Quite tasty, though...

In March, I joined hubby in Thailand, where I got taken by a Tuk Tuk driver, gave offerings to a gigantic Buddha and became an "accidental bulimic" due to choosing the wrong street food. I recovered after a shot of antibiotics and some fabulous Thai soups. (pork porridge = breakfast of champions)

I visited the Playboy Mansion, in April, when hired to create four themed cocktails for the Celebrity Poker Tournament. Not knowing what to wear as a married 30-something without breast augmentation, I donned a black suit... but still got my photo taken in the Grotto. I also learned that the "painted ladies" walking around the party are TOTALLY nude. (Wonder why all my male friends suddenly offered to "help me" at the next one...)

Queen of Hearts
(Courtesy of
2 ounces vodka
1 1/2 ounce White Chocolate liqueur
1/2 ounce cream
1/2 ounce maraschino syrup

Shake above ingredients well, with ice. Strain into a chilled, sugar-rimmed Martini Glass. Serve up, and garnish with a maraschino cherry, in the bottom of the drink.
(Photo: Claire Barrett)

Next gig was to create a twist on the Julep for a Kentucky Derby promotion where I found myself obsessed by ponies... and hats!

Then, June breezes blew me to the gorgeously unspoiled West Coast of Puerto Rico, Porto Del Sol. There, I learned how "not to be a gringo" while surfing and filmed a little video on Puerto Rican Moijtos. The area also boasts secret celebrity getaway Relais & Chateaux's Horned Dorset. (Shhh...)

In August, I sipped around incredible Libation-Loving Londontown. There's no place like London, there's no place like London...

September saw a weekend escape to Monterey, followed by an educational whirlwind at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Who better to learn from than Fred Noe - seventh generation distiller at Jim Beam (his face is on the bottle!) and David Pickerell, Master Distiller for Makers Mark.

Back home, I taught a cocktail class at my all-time favorite cocktail store: Bar Keeper in Silverlake; then went back up to San Fran to be a judge in Square One Vodka's Square Off. While there, I was excited to see the first edition of my syndicated monthly cocktail column with Where Magazine in the hotel room!

I taught organic cocktail classes in Seattle, in October, as part of a 'sustainable stylish lifestyle' promotion. Here's one of the eco-friendly drinks I created for that:

TLM's Organic Cherry Almond Champagne Cocktail

(Courtesy of

3/4 ounce Casal Dos Jordoes Tawny Port (organically-grown grapes)

3 or 4 ounces Can Vendrell Cava Brut Reserva (organically-grown grapes)

2 teaspoon organic sugar

4-5 drops organic almond extract

1 sour cherry

Sugar-rim a chilled champagne flute by rubbing rim with a lime, then dipping into sugar. Pour one teaspoon of sugar into bottom of flute, then add almond extract. Drop in sour cherry. Gently pour in port. Top with cava.

I finally got to make a quick visit to my sister (and the Bar Hemmingway) in Paris, followed a few days in Athens with hubby. (Haven't even blogged that yet!)

I was deeply honored when swanky DC Magazine (Modern Luxury) featured The Liquid Muse in a glorious article, in November.

And, I could not have been more thankful when a wonderful publisher offered me a two-book deal during Thanksgiving Week. (Ah, a home at last.) Book One hits shelves this Fall. Cocktail of the Week subscribers will be the first to receive invitations to book signing cocktail parties around the country! Invite your friends here.

Finally, the year ended with a bang when Sutter Home Wine asked me to be the Spokesperson and Mixologist for their line of alcohol-removed wines, Fre. In addition to creating cocktail recipes, I did in-person demos in Tampa and Houston, and appeared on morning shows in Miami, San Francisco and Phoenix. (Nothin' like Live TV to get the adrenaline pumping!)

Whew! What a year. Needless to say, I thank you all for tuning in, and I'm excited to see what 2008 brings. And, I hope you'll all come along for the ride...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spice Up Your Chocolate Craving...

This recipe sounds delicious, and I dare say that I just might make it this weekend (dieting is prohibited on weekends, right?)

(courtesy of
Tad Carducci of Tippling Bros)

1 1/2 oz Partida Reposado tequila
1 oz Chocolate molé mixture (Recipe below)
1/2 oz agave nectar
1 dash Regan's Orange bitters (optional)

In a mixing glass full of ice, add all ingredients. Shake, as if being chased by seven demons, for ten seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish at will.

Chocolate Molé (approx. sixteen servings)
2 oz high quality semisweet chocolate
5 tablespoons peanut butter
2 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp dried ground guajillo chile, or similar

Bring two cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and add peanut butter and milk. Whisk until smooth. Add spices and let simmer until mixture thickens to the consistency of a light batter. While hot, pass through a fine strainer, using the back of a ladle to push mixture through. Immediately add chocolate and stir to melt. Let “molé” cool to room temperature before using.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Guest Writer, On a Gas Can Full O' Southern Hospitality

In my line of work, I meet some awsome people. Among them is Jenny Adams, author of Mixing New Orleans and freelance writer. We finally clinked glasses, in person, at Tales of the Cocktail this past July, and were instant drinking buddies! Here is a little about Jenny, followed by her first contribution to The Liquid Muse:

Jenny Adams is a full-time freelance writer and the contributing editor of Nightclub & Bar magazine. She dreams of one day being well known for her writing, but still able to run around incognito due to her somewhat handicapped sense of fashion. She digs cream cheese, sailboats, words like 'visceral' and loud, live music. She can't stand overly-fruity cocktails, small children when they're sticky, words like 'genteel' and when her bacon isn't fully cooked. For more aboutJenny, please visit

Oxford is to Mississippi what the city of Austin is to Texas. It’s slightly out of whack with the rest of the state – a sort of oasis for liberal minds and literary genius, a verdant speck of a town where moonshine and Veuve Cliquot are poured with equal zeal as women teeter by on Prada heels. The town earned the nickname “The Little Easy” during its heyday in the early ‘90s, and today, it is still one of the South’s
best places to Happy Hour. Where else do people sit around discussing Faulkner’s lesser known works over fried pickles and Martinis?

In this little oxymoron of a town with only 20,000 residents, one cocktail is known to top the rest, however. You haven’t been to Oxford, Mississippi till you have climbed atop a ripped barstool at Ajax Diner, ordered the catfish and a Bloody Mary. The waitress will heft a red, plastic gasoline can with a smile, and if you it’s your first time, the experience can be slightly bizarre.

In this gasoline can is Proprietor Randy Yates’ town secret to curing the effects of the night before. He mixes it by the gallon to ensure customers never go without. Add in your favorite vodka, and Wah-la!

A note: I once had a theory that if one drank this magical hangover juice all night long, one would awake refreshed and feeling quite normal after an entire night out partying. I regret to say, my hypothesis was proven false in the winter of 2006. I had to have another in the morning before feeling my usual self.

Ajax Diner Bloody Mary Mix:

4 cans of V8 Juice
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cups orange juice
1/2 T. horseradish
1 T. kosher salt
1 T. black pepper
1/2 T. cumin
1/2 T. garlic powder
1/2 T. celery salt
1 T. red pepper flakes
1/2 T. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup Coke
Tabasco to taste

Combine all ingredients in gallon container. Mix well. Fill tall glass with 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and sufficient mix. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon, a squeeze of lime and a spear of pickled okra.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bartender Publishes Second Book!
(posted on behalf of my pal, Carly Sachs: author, blogger, poetess)

People ask two things usually of bartenders. These being in no particular order---
"What should I drink?" or "What do you like to make?" and many of us bartenders either love or hate this question depending on how busy the bar is and who the person asking the question is. It's our time to shine and make you something amazing, show off a new wine or liquor or dazzle you with our knowledge about spirits...all of which I could do at that point, but there is something more than alcohol that draws people to a bar. For me, it's the conversation, which brings me to my next question: "What else do you do?"

When I first started bartending, I took this to be an insult, as if bartending wasn't sufficient on it's own, that people expected me to be doing something else. I started bartending in DC, so perhaps that explains something, but now, I realize, people want to connect with you. More than someone to pour you a drink, they're sitting at the bar for another reason. Luckily, I have some pretty good answers to this question too.

When I started bartending, I was a professor of Creative Writing. Now I'm on an academic fellowship studying Biblical Hebrew and Talmud. And I have two books published. One of my own poetry, but the second is a project that's much more meaningful than that. My second book of poems, the why and later, an anthology of poems about rape and sexual assault was just released from deep cleveland press. The part that I am most excited about is that half of the profits from every book will be donated back to rape crisis centers.

I sold a considerable amount of my first book behind the bar, and that was great for book sales, this book has the potential to do much more good than sustain independent literary publishing. I've found that people who care about cocktails, care a lot about this world and what we take out of it and what we put into it. Coincidentally, my book sells for as much as a martini where I bartend. So, twisting the words of Sally Struthers, for the cost of a martini, you could make a real difference in a woman's life when you purchase the book!

With this anthology, Carly Sachs has drawn together poems of such heartbreaking eloquence and humanity that I felt as though I was placing my hands on raw wounds. Expect to be moved–it is impossible to read this collection and not be disabused, shocked, disturbed, outraged and eventually brought to a place of empathetic tenderness.

---Beth DellaRocco

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Contributors: Alice Anderson, Julianna Baggott, Ellen Bass, Jan Beatty, Erin Belieu, Laure Anne Bosselaar, Jeanne Bryner, Teresa Carson, Helen Marie Casey, Grace Cavalieri, Lucille Clifton, Nicole Cooley, Michele F. Cooper, Teri Ellen Cross, Toi Dericotte, Debra DiBlasi, Frances Driscoll, Denise Duhamel, Molly Fisk, Audrey Friedman, Nicole Gervace, Clarinda Harriss, Marie Howe, Julia Kasdorf, Laurie Klein, Karen Kovacik, Maxine Kumin, Joan Larkin, Dorianne Laux, Harriet Levin, Frannie Lindsay, Denise Low, Linda McCarriston, Amanda McGuire, Erin Murphy, Nita Penfold, Meg Peterson, Marge Piercy, Margaret Randall,Adrienne Rich, Melanie Rivera, Carly Sachs, Ada Jill Schneider, Jackie Sheeler, Sue Standing, Kiely Sweatt, Cheryl Townsend, Mary Weems, Ruth Whitman, Rosemary Winslow, Kathleen Winter, Nellie Wong.

Available in January 2008 in bookstores,, and Deep Cleveland Press

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Toast National Hot Buttered Rum Day!

Melt the “winter blues” at the timeless San Francisco watering hole, Elixir, on January 17. Sample $6 Gosling’s Hot buttered Rum Cocktails from 6 pm to closing, which just might make your toes tingle and warm the cockles of your heart!

If staying “cozy en casa” is your game plan, try your hand at whipping up one of Tony Abou-Ganim’s favorite cold-weather recipes. (See more of Tony’s drinks on his newly rennovated website: The Modern Mixologist.)

Tony’s Hot Buttered Rum Batter

1 lb light brown sugar
1/2 lb unsalted butter (softened)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, beat together softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight reusable container for up to a month, or place in your freezer until ready to use.

To make Hot Buttered Rum – In a pre-heated coffee mug combine 2 heaping tablespoons of batter with 1 _ oz. Gosling’s Rum. Top with boiling water and stir well to mix. Serve with a spoon.

Hint: It is best to make the batter in advance so the spices have an opportunity to mingle. And, be sure to remove batter from the refrigerator at least 6 hours prior to serving to allow it to soften.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Got A Crush?

With Valentine's Day coming up, some people have romance on the mind. And, some folks may need a little friendly advice to get their game on. Or, know when to turn it off...

If you're a lady looking for some friendly advice on hooking up with a hot boy, Got A Crush? gives you the low-down on internet dating. It will also help you find the right shade of makeup, prevent the flu, make you feel better about masturbating and explain the "10 reasons why you're always getting rejected."

And, men aren't left out! Want to know if that certain girl is simply busy or avoiding your calls? Read "7 signs she's no longer interested." Then, follow it up with "12 common reasons why women cheat."

Sorry, bub. The truth hurts sometimes but its better to know. Plus, you can always click back over to The Liquid Muse and I'll help you drink the pain away...

(Photo is from this post on Got A Crush?)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vegastripping Names Person of the Year

Vegas is back in a big way. 'Everyday' Angelenos, and our celebrity cohabitants, descend upon our liquor-drenched neighbor in droves to lap up every last drop of unapologetic sparkling, slithering, sultry debauchery. And, we're damn grateful for it! (Put the green tea lattes, meatless burgers and faked out psuedo-spiritualism on hold --- cuz, for Crissakes, we like to party, too!)

However, we often forget that Vegas is also a real, live city with breathing, thinking people... most of whom avoid the strip on a Saturday night, go to sleep when its dark, wake up in the morning (sans hangover) and actually do things other than lounge poolside with Playmates.

Steve Friess' blog, aptly named The Strip Podcast, covers the city's entertainment, sure, but also delves into commentary on real estate, politics, snippets from his personal life and how a regular Vegas resident spends NYE. Informative and entertaining, it has been recognized by Vegastripping as "Blog of the Year." Steve has also won Vegastripping's admiration for going head to head with Steve Wynn, and so named their Person of the Year.

Blogger to blogger, I gotta say, "I'll drink a toast to you, Steve. Congrats!"

(pic is from Steve Friess' homepage)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hollywood Tea’s Off!

Here at The Liquid Muse I’ve reported on the tea cocktail trend around L.A., and featured that orange lab-coated enthusiast, Dr. Tea (whose new Tea Diet book recently hit the shelves). What I hadn’t considered was using delicious blended teas as pre-party insurance against a painful morning-after.

Ritual Supperclub in Hollywood features yum, yum sushi and several fun cocktails, but the real excitement these days is its bar’s collaboration with Executive Chef Andy Pastore who developed the “Art of Tea” program (which has been introduced to its celebrity clientele such as Ryan Phillippe, Luke Wilson and our planet’s BFF, Al Gore).

Are you out to party? Think ahead! Rather de-toxing after a nasty hangover, try Pre Tox Citrus Cleansing and Grounding tea, and see if it helps avoid one. (Ritual Supperclub has a built-in nightclub, so it may be a good idea to work this in upon arrival.)

Are you out to chill? Blooming Bliss boosts a ‘calm and centered’ feeling with hand-picked organic green tea leaves scented with fragrant jasmine blossoms.

Are you out to indulge? Skip the calories and treat your tastebuds to The Chocolate Monkey, which highlights tempting aromas such as chocolate, banana, rooibos, apple and pink peppercorn.

Can't Resist Being Just a Little Naughty? Go for the Green Tea Creme Brulee... infused with Pre Tox tea!

Whether or not this tea program staves off headaches and dehydration remains to be seen, but there’s everything to gain from a little herbal delight… even if it doesn’t include alcohol!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

James Bond Stamps Commemorate Centenary

And A Question for the Deceased...

One of Pop Culture's heavy hitters (and James Bond's papa) Ian Fleming, is being honored in his native homeland. Six British stamps have just been released to mark the centenary of his birth. As a pop culture junkie, I have to say 'hip, hop, hooray' to that. Who doesn't love an eternally sun-tanned, nimble-footed, womanizing, weapon-toting mystery man. Those bad boys are a chick magnet for a reason.

My favorite James Bond was Roger Moore, who is only slightly ahead of Sean Connery. Or, maybe Sean Connery is just ahead of Roger Moore. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I wouldn't kick either of them out of bed. (Pierce Brosnan on the other hand... too pretty to be Bond. I'd rather kiss Miss Moneypenny. Or, Halle Berry's character. Ok, not her character, just Halle Berry. But, I digress...)

Of course, in my line of work, I wound up thinking about the impact James Bond films have had on modern drinking, and it isn't necessarily a good thing...

At first glance, James Bond is to a martini what the Marlboro Man is to a cigarette. The brilliant personification of ingestible "cool." The elegant image of a health-jeopardizing, potentially addictive substance. The epitome of masculine sexiness wrapped up in one little, easily accessible mouthful.

You may remember my post on vodka's sneaky little takeover where a "Vodka Gimlet" left me somewhat baffled: gimlet=gin in my world. I have nothing against vodka, per se - and use it in some of my own drink recipes. However, when I hear a guy whine about wanting vodka in his gin drink, I just have to cringe.

Bond, apparently, only drank vodka martinis - which actually brings him down one peg below the Marlboro Man, in my estimation of manliness. If a man can't handle gin, how tough can he really be? Maybe that's why the other kids taunted him with the nickname "octo-pussy."

Incidentally, James Bond also asks for the martini to be "shaken, not stirred," which is frowned upon by many bartenders. It waters down the drink, and "bruises" the gin. (I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure what they mean by "bruising" the gin other than it waters it down... maybe someone could clarify that in the comments, below...)

And, back to the Bond martini... what about vermouth, for Crissakes? What - about - the - vermouth??

I'd love to ask the venerable Mr. Fleming, "Why? Why vodka over gin?" Maybe it was it considered more exotic in those days? Or the rumors that gin leaves an "awful hangover" (as if vodka didn't...) Or, maybe Bond was sensitive deep-down because I do hear a lot of girls say, "gin makes me cry."

On this centenary of your birth, I implore, "Why, Mr. Fleming, can't a hotshot British spy can't handle his gin?!"

Well, letting by-gones be by gones and sleeping dogs lie, there's nothing to do but lift our eyes to the Heavens and yell
"Happy Centenary!" raising a double shot of Smirnoff in honor of Ian Flemming, Roger Moore and Sean Connery. Ok, Halle Berry, too. (And, not necessarily in that order...)

Photo courtesy of

Monday, January 07, 2008

Intoxicating Fun With the Intoxicated Zodiac...

Well, shiver m'timbers! I just won a super multi-colored wooden muddler from the Intoxicated Zodiac. Cocktail blogger Gwen enticed people into signing up for her newly debuted newsletter by entering them into a drawing for this really cool muddler. Lo, and behold, I was the lucky winner! (I just knew 2008 would be a great year!)

If you want to buy one of these for yourself, visit Gwen's shopping page, and while you're there, learn which cocktails best suit your sign. Get on Gwen's mailing list by signing up here. Its a hoot - and makes for great workplace reading material. (Don't tell your boss I said that...) And, don't forget to check out the cool screensavers on her blog.

And, for those who may not know it already, I ran a little contest myself, in December. And, the winner of their very own Liquid Muse Signature Cocktail will be announced in an upcoming Cocktail of the Week Museletter. If you don't already get it, sign up on my homepage.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Before Another Day Goes By!

C'mon people, hurry up! 2008 is already ticking away...

If you love cocktails - in fact, especially if you love cocktails a little too much - keep yourself on track with Jill DeGroff's Cocktailian Caricature Calendar.

I just ordered mine, and let me tell ya, there ain't nothing like the smiling mug of your favorite liquor-slinging expert peering down at you to get the juices flowing. (Even if it is only to get through the work day and onto Happy Hour!)

And, you may recognize the last name... For whomever doesn't know, Madame DeGroff's hubby is the world-famous King of Cocktails, himself, Mr. Dale DeGroff. And, their son Leo is following in the family footsteps, whipping up libational excitement around the globe.

Don't know about you, but I'm already looking forward to a good, long year of cocktailian delight...
The Family Groove Picks TLM's Brain

about alternatives to the Cosmo...

Read more on their groovy website.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Bartender Diaries - Lu Brow

“It was just much, much bigger than I thought it would be,” reflects renown New Orleans Mixologist Lu Brow. No, she is not talking about “that little weather incident” (the way most Orleanians now refer to the disastrous Hurricane Katrina). She is referencing the Big Easy’s annual cocktail convention, Tales of the Cocktail, which drew 12,000 people to Louisiana this past July. Brow says, “Its so nice to be surrounded by people who love a great cocktail.”

To call New Orleans a “cocktail town” is an understatement. The city is the birthplace of the cocktail, and overflowing with not only bars, but cocktail lore lingering in the dark corners and crevices of ominously shadowed alleyways, and behind the wrought-iron gates of regal plantation homes. Nearly every dwelling - large or small - has a home bar, and just about every granny has her own family cocktail recipes to pass down to the next generations.

Lu stirs things up at the Swizzle Stick Bar at Cafe Adelaide inside the elegant Loews hotel, in downtown New Orleans. Although Brow describes bartending as “sometimes hard and physically demanding,” she finds camaraderie with fellow female barkeeps and restaurateurs. “When you meet other women in the business, they know what you do… they understand.”

She also collaborated with Ti Adelaide and Lally Brennan on their book IN THE LAND OF COCKTAILS, a delightful collection of stories and cocktail recipes from New Orleans. “It became our Sunday afternoon project, after the hurricane,” says Brow, and describes it as: “a great book about drinking, and comes from a great respect for the cocktail.”

When it comes to defining her own identity behind the bar, she explains: “I like the word Mixologist… [which Lu defines as someone who uses fresh juices, and builds hand-crafted drinks] but I’m most comfortable with Bartender, or someone who works toward creativity. A Bar Chef is on a different level, and works on pairing cocktails with foods, and takes the cooking part a little further. That is an appropriate title for me, too, because I like to cook my own syrups.”

Brow loves to work with food, and first got behind her mother’s stove when she was six years old. She also attributes her understanding of flavor and taste balance to working with acclaimed chefs throughout her hospitality career.

Before Katrina, Lu was a Beverage Manager, and only spent about 10% of her time behind the bar. After the storm, she went to be with her family in Shreveport, not knowing if she’d have a job to return to in NoLa. In the first year after the storm, Brow says that the city cleaned up 26 years worth of trash which had been strewn about. She explains, “200,000 homes were destroyed. It took four months just to get the trash out.”

Right after the storm, a mayor from South Carolina came in to the bar, and shared his experience with hurricane devastation. “He asked if I was committed to staying in New Orleans, explaining it would take at least five years for things to get back on track,” Brow remembers. “If he hadn’t told me that, I would have lost it.”

While in Shreveport - and not able to watch another second of CNN hurricane coverage - a friend offered Lu a job bartending in a gay bar, which catered to men aged 30 – 70. She recalls never having felt more loved in her life: “They even carried the beer for me. I knew after three nights that I wasn’t going back to the dining room floor.”

Back in New Orleans, where she considers brass bands and New Orleans Funk her “heart and soul,” Lu considers the best praise from the old-timers praises her renditions of cocktails originally created in New Orleans itself. She recalls, “About three years ago an elderly gentleman asked. ‘Young lady, do you know how to make a Ramos Gin Fizz? If so, I’d like one.’ Upon tasting it, the man declared, ‘Its perfect. Light as an angel’s wings.’ Beaming pride, Brow shares, “That just made me want to cry!”

Lu is one of the most delightful bartenders (and people) I’ve had the pleasure of meeting while interviewing people for The Liquid Muse. She loves to brighten someone’s day, and it shows. As she describes: “We all work way too hard. Life is hard. [People] come in at the end of the day to enjoy a nice cocktail and get away from it all – a cocktail and a nice conversation.” With a burst of joy, she adds: “I’m so happy to be doing what I do.”