Thursday, March 6, 2014

Everybody wants 
a piece of


R’evolution’s newest addition to the bar talks to us about cucumbers, fighting, and Clint Eastwood.

JONATHAN NUÑEZ IS QUITE THE CHARMER at his bar. I’ve seen him juggle three sets of cougars at once - this while pointing at me in an obvious 'what do you want' gesture.  He’s hilarious, sharp, and one of the nicest barkeeps in the business.  What keeps him cool? Napkin Local called him up one evening to find out what makes the man behind the beard go.

Jonathan Nuñez: What’s up brother?
Napkin Local: Hey what’s happening man?
JN: I’m sitting at the house watching an old Clint Eastwood movie.
NL: Which one?
NL: Is it good?  I haven’t seen it.
JN: Surprisingly yeah.  I mean the acting is horrible, but it’s good for getting in the times.  Good storyline…
NL: Word.
JN: Well let’s do this then.
NL: So a group walks in to your bar at 11pm and orders 7 Ramos Gin Fizzes.  What’s your first thought, and what is the first thing you say?
JN: First thought is “fuck my life”.  If some asshole comes in at 11 and orders 7 fucking Ramos Gin Fizzes, my first word would be, “really?” Because at my bar you have to put the brakes on.  But it would be something in that fashion.  “Seriously?  That’s really what you want?”  Otherwise, I would be so angry that I would want to cut off my own arm and beat him with it.
NL: Are there any dead politicians you would fight in an MMA match?
JN: Theodore Roosevelt.  That’s a badass dude. I would want to fight him.  I would train like in Rocky III.  That’s what it would take for Theodore Roosevelt.
NL: Do you think you’d win?
JN: No. (laughing) it would be a blood match.
NL: If you had to pick 2 well-known New Orleans bartenders to be your parents, who would you choose?
JN: Historical well known or do you mean the cats that are working right now?
NL: Current
JN: As a bartender parent I would say Murf Reeves, or maybe in a broken family kind of way, a certain older gentleman that works at the Monteleone. 
NL: I’d ask who, but you shouldn’t say.
JN: (laughs)
NL: Who would you say is your favorite bartender right now?
JN: As a customer, I would have to say Jonathan over at Bar Tonique.  He works and you can tell the dude is very passionate like an artist making a painting.  Like he doesn’t want anybody fucking with his painting.
NL: Are there any rare or interesting bottles of wine or spirits on your home bar?
JN: Well first off, nothing lasts in my home.  If it’s in my house it’s getting drank.  …a bottle that I would run into a burning building for -- Gran Marnier 100 year.  Not 150.  I would let that bitch burn.  Besides that, I would say my grandfather’s micro-bottle of mid-1920’s Bacardi Gold.
NL: Where do you derive your bartending style?
JN: I enjoy learning, so the craft thing is fun.  But I don’t see myself as a mixologist per se.  I see myself more as a studier of people within the bar, and how I notice how culture changes drinks.  I think that is why I have more of an affinity for classic cocktails.
NL: Any least favorite requests?
JN: “What do you like making? What’s good here? Or what should I drink?” I don’t fucking know. I love making Aviations, Last Words, and Boulevardiers, but I know you’re not going to like them because you have fake breasts and the IQ of a grapefruit. You will probably like something with a cucumber and St. Germain and then tell me “..not too sweet.”
NL: What would be and ideal order then?
JN: “Can I have an Aviation? Can I have an old-school pre-rye Cognac Sazerac? Can I have a proper 2:1 or even 1:1 Martini?” Or a Vesper with Ransom Old Tom gin. Boom.
NL: Do you shake or stir your Vespers?
JN: Oh, stir all day. And I like to strain it through rice. Fantastic.
NL: Speaking of rice, how many pounds of crawfish can you eat?
JN: An infinite amount because I never get full on crawfish.  To me, the amount of energy required to open the crawfish is equal to the amount of energy received from the crawfish tail.
NL: Is it the same for raw oysters?
JN: No.  I’ve never tried to Man vs.Food the raw oyster bit. And I’m not shucking the oyster. That’s like busting through concrete for half of a Lucky Charm marshmallow.
NL: So how long does it take you everyday to make sure your beard looks fantastic?
JN: (laughing) I wake up in the morning with it fantastic.
NL: It just grows like that?
JN: I don’t even shave.
NL: And when you get angry, do metal claws come out of your hands as well?
JN: I took a personality test on Facebook, the X-Men one, like who I’m going to be…  Of course I got Wolverine.

"You will probably like something with a 
cucumber and St. Germain 
and then tell me 
'..not too sweet'."

NL: If you were going out with a gay friend of yours, like let’s say Michael Glassberg, would you go to Oz or Bourbon Pub?
JN: Bourbon Pub.  Oz is has trippy lights. Things can happen. That’s weird. Yeah, Bourbon Pub.
NL: You’re at R’evolution right now right?  How’s the vibe there? 
JN: I like the quality of booze that’s behind the bar, and the wine.  I feel like my ability to serve matches the quality of the product as opposed to other places that I’ve worked where I’ve had to screw the guest, or make them think they’re getting a high-end product when they’re getting charged a whole lot of money. In other words, the people that are selecting the stuff I’m selling, well, it’s just top-notch.  And it’s such a stress relief to know that when somebody gets the bill, whether they think it or not, I don’t feel like I’m cheating them.  Every dollar they’re spending, they’re getting more than what they payed for.
NL: What are some of your favorite places to go for a pre/post-work snack?
JN: I would say pre-work is Bourbon House for those bourbon milk punches. I went in to try one just because I had never had one, and I had like 7 in the hour before work.  After work, I like going over to Chart Room, and I’ve woken up with Rally’s cheese fries on my face. I don’t eat a lot before work. I don’t like going into work full. 
NL: Wanna end this with your favorite Chris Hannah-ism?
JN: I don’t know if it’s so much a quote of his or more of a mentality.  But he will be in a group and there will be a hot chick.  He will ask like 3 people, hey, who’s that girl? And he may say nothing else about her, and he definitely won’t talk to her.  --NL

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On Lust and Vice

March 5, 2014

Dearest Coffee,

     It has been many months since I have enjoyed your well-worn attitude.  Like a leather chair in an old library, you exude class and wisdom in an effortless comfort afforded only to those who take the time to enjoy it properly. 

     I am ashamed to say that for those many months I have taken comfort in another.  This maiden of the south has taken hold of me in the fiery throes of lust.  Mate' has seduced me, and I, only knowing her in the best light, have fallen victim to her spell.  

     It seems that a particular aversion to saying her name, as well as an undying devotion to the traditions of our great nation, have led me back wholeheartedly into your comforting grace.  Coffee, I once again profess my love for you.  

     Please accept this letter of apology, and know that I mean it from the bottom of my caffeine jostled heart.  I once again long for your luxurious and sultry posture.  So it is with hopeful wish that I once again raise a styrofoam vessel to your name and profess - Coffee, you have taught me life, compassion, and mystery, and I promise that from this day forth I will embody these same values in your honor.


Hadi Ktiri

I realize this isn't written on a cocktail napkin.  Sue me.

Quote of the week

“Mrs. Reilly called in that accent that occurs south of New Jersey only in New Orleans, that Hoboken near the Gulf of Mexico.” 

-- John Kennedy Toole 

Friday, February 28, 2014

iPhone users, download this parade tracker!

It's often hard to figure what the parades are doing when all you have to go on is heresay. Use this parade tracker from Channel 6 and you will rightly become the Grand Marshall of "Where da parade at?"

First, open the app store and search for "parade tracker"

Click the "Free" button next to "WDSU Parade Tracker" from Channel 6 and download.

Once downloaded, open the app and make sure to click "OK" when it gives you this prompt.

Select the parade you want to track...

And Boom! It gives you the route (blue line), you're location (the blue dot), and once the parade rolls, the parade's position in real time.  

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Photo by Frank McMains

Jonathan Peterson
is not what you'd call clean-cut.  He wears his beard like he lives his life -- full, majestic, and at times, a bit prickly.  Now a 1 1/2 year veteran at Bar Tonique, Jon is a fixture in the New Orleans cocktail business.  We sat down with him last week to discuss drinks, fighting, and Nick Jarrett. 

Napkin Local: Shaken or stirred?
Jon Peterson: For me, for the most part, stirred.  The citrus gives me heartburn these days.  Maybe one or two of those (citrus drinks) a night is all I can handle, but I can drink Sazeracs all day long.  
NL: Speaking of shaken, when did you and Sonali first start that piggyback shaking move that you do some late nights at Tonique?
JP:  Oh the Sex Shake? Or as I like to call it, the Kali Quad shake.  I don't remember exactly when we started.  But nights me and Sonali worked were always fun, and sometimes they were a lot more fun than other times.  One night when everyone was having a good time and we had a nice lively sort of party going... she just told me, "I should get on your back and we should shake at the same time." And I was like yeah, of course we should.  
NL: Where were you before Tonique?
JP: I was at Sobou full time - on the opening staff there for the first four months.  And then I had some 1 or 2 day a week side gigs at Perestroika before it was Cane & Table, and the Bridge Lounge.
NL: PBR or Miller High Life?
JP: PBR.  I drank a lot of High Life when I was younger and first started drinking.  I don't have anything against it, and I'll still drink it, but my taste buds changed and PBR is my beer now.
NL: Do you prefer big or small boobs, on a man?
JP: I mean... If a man's gonna have some boobs, I would hope that they're big enough to be worth writing home about.
NL: Where is home?
JP: I was in Baton Rouge for a couple years after I moved back from Brooklyn - I was doing a little layover there - and I worked at Port Royal and our sister bar, The Cove.

"I mean if a man's gonna have some boobs, I would hope that they're big enough to be worth writing home about."

NL: Besides Ann Tuennerman, who do you think has done the most for the New Orleans cocktail industry?
JP: That's kind of a tough question.  I would be inclined to say that Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal have done a lot just through opening, you know, now several different establishments.  I know that in my personal interactions with them they were super nice, very forthcoming and they just got a great attitude.  It's sort of the attitude that pervades the New Orleans cocktail scene.  Just that a rising tide brings all the ships up -- or whatever the fuck that saying is.  Basically... they're always willing to help and show people the ropes... they're just some good dudes.
NL: A group walks into the bar at 1:45am and orders 7 Ramos Gin Fizzes.  What is your first thought?
JP: Fuck these people.
NL: And the first words out of your mouth?
JP: At 1:45 in the morning the first words out of my mouth would probably be, whether or not they're true are, we just did last call.
NL: What are your least and most favorite request from customers?
JP: My worst request at Tonique, which is the same at every bar I've ever worked at, which is, "Do you have blue cheese-stuffed olives?"  My favorite... "Can I have a beer and a shot?" 
NL: Speaking of beer and shots, if you had to pick 2 well-known New Orleans bartenders to be your parents who would you choose?
JP: (Amidst laughing) Um, I would have to say Nick Jarrett and Kimberly Patton-Bragg.  I think that would be a very interesting house to live in...
NL:  If they gave you a punishment, what do you think it would be?
JP: I would imagine they would throw a party for all their friends and I would just have to make Ramos Gin Fizzes for like 75 people.
NL: Random question, what dead politician would you want to fight in a hockey brawl?
JP: Andrew Jackson, because that was a bad mother-fucker and that would probably be a pretty good fight.  
NL: What's your favorite Chris Hannah saying?
JP: Shit... I'm not sure I've been around him enough to have an informed opinion on his diverse vernacular.  Probably something incoherent that he might say right before falling down.    --NL


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Quote of the Week

"Would you like your martini shaken or stirred?"

"Would you like your bills crumpled or straight?"

Monday, February 17, 2014

Punch your hangover in the jimmy

Enjoying New Orleans the way you should often involves upwards of 8 cocktails, four courses and one jazz show.  It is the most fun you'll ever have in a bow tie or cocktail dress.  But living life at this level has a price.  That price is a hangover.  A price we all pay gladly.

First, never start your night with spirits.  Wine is a magical journey on a fresh palate.  Start with that.  Then move on to aperitifs like Campari or Sherry.  Only after dinner should you begin the booze adventure that will inevitably lead to your moral repose.

I don't believe in hangover cures. They don't exist.  I do, however, trust in hangover treatments.  Everybody has their own way.  This is mine:

Go to this liquor store

Loads of people ask me where they can buy wine and spirits nearby.  I imagine many of them use Google.  This is a mistake.  Keife & Co. doesn't even show up on the top 20.  No idea why.  Then again, Sylvain and Cane and Table don't show up under best New Orleans seafood.  Use Napkin Local and move on with your intoxicating life of magic and dreams.   Cheers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quote of the Week

"Folks who have no vices have very few virtues."  ---Abe Lincoln 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The State of Drink

October 27, 2013

Regarding Cocktails and their Constituents:

The state of the cocktail culture is stronger than ever.  However, if you called it culture, you would be insinuating that our lives are consumed by drink.  You would be correct.  Everything these days is an advertisement for  booze.  Mad Men characters drink continuously.  So do the characters in Game of Thrones and Hell on Wheels.  The Great Gatsby remake was a huge glamorous advert for champagne and martinis.  All over Facebook we see our friends' Mad Men or Gatsby themed cocktail parties.  Where did this come from?  

If you talk to cocktail historians they will likely tell you it started in New York with Dale Degroff and his push to keep fresh citrus available at the Rainbow Room.  But I'm not discussing where good drinks came from.  The real revolution started much later.  

With the advent of "foodie" culture came an obsession for quality.  This meant buying food that was grown naturally. (i.e. cows eating grass not corn, and accepting that tomatoes don't have to be red and perfectly round.) People started talking about buying local, going organic, going gluten-free, being vegan, and countless other foodie inspired trends.  The Food Network turned into culinary porn, cooking at home became obsolete, and chefs became superstars.  With this renewed interest in where food came from, people started looking elsewhere for improvement.  If we cared about how our food is grown and where it came from, why not the same attention to what we drink?  So similarly the Mixologist trend was born.  "Mixologist" no sooner became a term than it was banished by trade bartenders convinced that there is no magic or "-ology" involved in making an Aviation or Dark and Stormy.  So why the fascination with cocktails?

It has something to do with an ideal.  When you hold a perfectly made drink in your hand and stare up at the bottles on the back bar, your mind drifts.  Your shoulders relax, your blood warms, and that project due on Monday is all but forgotten in that moment of crisp, cold bliss.  With a cocktail in your hand you can be Don Draper, Hunter Thompson, or Marilyn Monroe.  You can transcend this world of mediocrity and blasé to a place of limitless potential.  

So you know that hot number across the bar with the 1940's pencil skirt?  Yeah, she's totally in your league because you know what an Algonquin cocktail is.  So go walk up and charm her with your obscure knowledge of J.D. Salinger because with a drink like a 1:1 Perfect Gibson with orange bitters she'll definitely be into you.  But only if she's drinking a Sherry Cobbler.

H. Ktiri