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


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