Pairing Cocktails at Boucherie

Every summer around this time I return home from New Orleans recharged.

This year, representing Piedmont Distillers, I was tasked with creating a signature cocktail to pair with the vinegary twang of Carolina barbecue.  I could use any of the Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon infusions (cranberry, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, apple pie) from the case which magically landed on my porch. Thank you Sarah LeRoy!

Because their roots thrive in the acidic soil of eastern North Carolina, I chose blueberry, a "superfood" full of anti-oxidants. For the past few months I had been experimenting with muddling lemon grass in cocktails and the notion of calling one the Blue Grass Moon brought a smile to my face. It called forth visions of banjos and beautiful women dancing around a campfire, all warmed from within by the triple-distilled spirits.

As I puttered around my kitchen, experimenting with proportions and sinking deeper in my cups, I was tempted to grab my wife and run around outside like children howling at the moon.

before the mess in my kitchen

When the day of the event finally arrived, I met Texan Sly Cosmopoulos and Kansas City tender Berto Santoro in the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone for a ride to Boucherie, the restaurant hosting the meal as part of the Spirited Dinner series of Tales of the Cocktail.

Sly and Berto before the show
Chef Nathanial Zimet began Boucherie out of a food truck called The Que Crawl, a.k.a. "a romp through BBQ country." The business became a favorite of many, including artist Rebecca Rebouche, whose eyes lit up when I mentioned it. These days, Boucherie lives in a renovated home on Jeannette Street. With James Denio at the helm crafting delicious cocktails, the space routinely books up weeks in advance. In retrospect, it was the perfect venue for a themed dinner called Barbecue Coast-to-Coast.

8115 Jeannette St, New Orleans

Sly, Berto, and I spent a few hours prepping for the over fifty cocktails we would later make on the fly as Zimet's corresponding course hit the servers' hands. The night sold out, the menu was terrific, and everyone attending enjoyed a night fit for kings and queens of old.

I spent the next few days wandering New Orleans as if in a dream. An old friend, Brad Kunkle, flew down to hang, and as much as I love everything about Tales of the Cocktail, I steered clear of most of the events. I've had media passes on four previous occasions and spent most of my time in seminars and some of the most lavish parties ever imagined. This time around, I wanted to know if my lingering love affair for the city itself had any real substance. Visit back in a few weeks to find out. Until then, next time you're making drinks, how about a pitcher of Blue Grass Moon?

Blue Grass Moon menu card

signed menu from the night