There are those who would say that I’m dashing off this quick and dirty post quite literally at the 11th hour before the turn of the month from November to December, so that I will not be publicly castigated by my frien Cari Hah (who keeps me honest) for failing to live up to my pinky swear to post at least once per month.Those people would not be wrong. In fact, those people might point out that I am a great big cheating bastard for posting this on December 1, in the time zone in which I currently exist in New Orleans, squeaking it through the gate while it’s still November 30 in Los Angeles. Those people would not be wrong either. Ah well, one does what one must.
I will take this opportunity, though, in the 42 minutes in which I still have the post this before I truly have violated my pinky swear, to tell you about one of my new favorite bars back home in New Orleans — Twelve Mile Limit, on Telemachus and Baudin in Mid-City. This is been a major oversight in my appreciation of good drinking in New Orleans, as the bar has been open for four years and this is the first time I’ve been there. Spending six hours there last Saturday helps make up for lost time though, and I was having such a good time those six hours went by in a flash.
Just arriving to tend bar when I got there was owner T. Cole Newton, a most excellent bartender and host, who had previously bartended around the city at places like Commander’s Palace and Coquette. He’s managed to open a bar that is pretty much my ideal bar – it’s an unpresuming, unpretentious neighborhood joint, located right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, friendly, funky and comfortable, full of neighborhood people and regulars, with a fantastic jukebox, good food, fantastic collection of spirits behind the bar and a really interesting drink list. It’s also the kind of bar or you can just have a shot and a beer and play pool, if that’s what you feel like doing. If I were ever ambitious and completely insane enough to open a bar, this might just be the kind of bar I’d want to own.
It’s the kind of bar where you can go there by yourself and you’ll still have a great time for hours, because the people around you are so welcome and and friendly and interesting and fun. It’s the kind of bar that has regular events, such as (from what I’ve read) trivia nights centered around comic books and science fiction. If I lived in the neighborhood I would probably be attempting to organize Firefly board game nights. If I lived in the neighborhood my ass would be on a barstool there more than a few nights a week.
And on top of all of that, the drinks were terrific. In fact, Cole made me some of the weirdest fucking drinks I’ve had in a long time… and they were all really good. Jamaican rum, Fernet Branca, Catdaddy spiced moonshine and a bit of vermouth. That’s the first time I’ve had that particular flavor combination, and I really enjoyed it. White Louisiana rum, lime, orgeat … and Branca Menta. (I had a gigantic hot sausage po-boy earlier that day, so I needed Fernet-laden drinks.) I very nearly interjected on that one – “You know, I’m really not much of a Branca Menta fan,” I almost said (and which Wesly may well have said, because he really hates that stuff). But I didn’t. He’s been taking great care of you all night, you idiot – trust your bartender! Good thing I did, because it was a really enjoyable and interesting drink. I don’t know what the hell it was called, but I’m sure I could get him to make it for me again.
While there I heard a story that I loved. I had been chatting a couple of regulars and was enjoying talking to them; at one point one of them called out and said, “Hey Cole, tell Chuck how you happened to buy this bar.” He laughed and said, “It’s kind of a one-liner. I opened Google and typed, ‘available bars for sale.’” It had been kind of a scary place in its previous incarnation, but Cole was able to afford it and now four years later he’s got a bar that I wish I could come back to again and again. And I will, every single time I’m back home.
As the clock is ticking, I’ll cut it short for the time being and share one of my drinks from that evening. Cole was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing it with y’all. (I forgot to ask, d’oh.) A beautifully balanced combination of blanco tequila, a light, citrusy bitter, lime and a dash of spice – this one is going right on our home menu.
by T. Cole Newton
Twelve Mile Limit, New Orleans
1-1/2 ounce blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce orgeat
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 dash Bittermens Habanero Shrub
Combine ingredients with ice, shake, serve up with a lime wheel garnish.
Hey, y’know, this bar is only a 25-minute walk from the Fat Pack house where we stay sometimes …
(And posted with three minutes to spare!)