Monday, June 2, 2014

KPB  is on Fire

Kimberly Patton-Bragg: on nether regions, uptown, and how she plans on getting everyone in New Orleans full, drunk, and laid --  

By Hadi Ktiri
Transcribed by Meagan Burke

      It had been nearly ten minutes before I remembered to hit record on my computer. When I finally did, I caught Kim in the midst of a story about the merits of Uptown New Orleans.
Kimberly Patton-Bragg: Uptown creeps me the fuck out.  It's too quiet.  I mean, it's lovely.... but...
Napkin Local: Where would you say uptown starts?
KPB: (laughs) You know where I would! Passed the I-10.  That's fucking uptown, Hannah.  Sorry.
NL: I think it was Steve Yamada who said, "'s a direction, not a location."
KPB: I think that’s a valid point.  But he lives uptown in my eyes.  I don’t care what  side of Jackson.  It’s like how the politicians do during elections.  They just change their demographic so they can get more of their people to vote for them.
NL: So the last three of these we did, we asked if you had to pick two well-known new Orleans bartenders to be your parents, who would they be?  Everybody, so far, has said you would be their mom.
KPB: Awwwww.  That means so much to me!  Oh my god. They are all such damaged people.  That really means a lot to me.  It’s been kind of a running joke that I’ve been mama bear, and I don’t think it’s because I’m older; I think it’s because they really know that I do care about them.  They know if I’m in jail, you can call Kim.  She’s not gonna call my mom.  I wanna protect everybody because I love the community we have so much.  Not only in New Orleans, but around the country.  When we did Runamok, they said, "..we have to have mama bear here."  And it’s from doing tales...
NL: How long have you done Tales?
KPB: God. six years.  I'm now retired.  I think I’ve done enough.  And I’m grateful for everything that it’s done. And that’s what’s helped me get the mama bear status that I have.  But I don’t think I have to get up at eight in the morning and batch Sazeracs anymore.
NL: I think you've done your time.
KPB: Right. Somebody else gets to figure out how to use those orange buckets.
NL: So besides Ann Tuennerman, who has done the most for this city as a figurehead for the bar community?
KPB: I so don’t want to give this to him, but Chris Hannah in a way.  He’s the one that everyone comes down to see, and deservedly so.  And he goes around the world saying, “New Orleans is valid. Things are happening here.”  Whether he wants to be an ambassador or not, he is. And all of us consider ourselves ambassadors when we go around the country or the world. Because you have to be. Everything’s been so new york, or San Francisco, or Chicago, everyone kind of looks at us as doing classic cocktails, and that’s it.  But we’re doing some really interesting shit here.  There are people who have sick knowledge of history.  There’s Rhiannon who's walking librarian as far as history is concerned, and it’s not one of my fortes at all.  You wanna ask me how to make a weird syrup out of fennel tops, I got you.  But if you’re asking me about the first ten cocktails in the bon vivant, I have no idea.  So I would say Chris Hannah, whether he likes it or not, is definitely one those beacons.  Chris Mcmillian as well.  And I can’t wait until the museum reopens again so he can really take that leadership again.  Because he is one of the papa bears around here.  When I was new down here and I was like “oh my god, it’s Chris Mcmillian” and just open arms.  Anything I needed, and he does that with everyone.  I think our entire community does in a way.
NL:Some people have said that our group is cliquey, implying that we’re not open to outsiders.
KPB: I think it’s absolutely opposite.  It’s not true.  I think there is one stipulation and that is you conduct yourself in a way that’s becoming of a New Orleans bartender.  Really the only rule in New Orleans is just don’t fuck up, and don’t be an idiot.  But I think that people who think we’re cliquey, it’s when we’re all out together, which is so rare.  And when we're all out together, it’s a celebration.  Because we never get together because we’re always working. So I think that may be where that comes from.  We know we have Mardi Gras day off.  We know we have Christmas day off.  We’ve all sort of agreed on that.  But we never excluded anyone.  It’s like “..absolutely!  Come bring your friends!”

"I really have to say Neal Bodenheimer and Cure started everything - and he changed Freret Street for sure."

NL: What bars are you excited about right now?
KPB: I still love that Sylvain’s doing it.  I wish they were getting a little more press than they’re getting.  I love that Luci’s getting press, but I think Darrin Ylisto deserves some.  They’re crushing it.  I’m excited about Oxalis.  That’s Sonali and Ed.  I really want them to succeed because I think they’re really great people. Mopho I’m really excited about too.  I think it’s really interesting and exciting that someone from August decided to separate and do a pho bar.  That’s pretty ballsy.
NL: Pho is really popular in New Orleans.
KPB: Everywhere in the world there is a hangover soup, and this is the hangover capital of the world.  I’m glad to see that Root’s doing well, and I’m interested to see how Square Root does.  Oh, and Cane and Table.  I really think they’re knocking it out of the park.  Nick Deitrich was the right person to manage and run that.  I love Nick.  They have the right people.  Braden is amazing.  Matt is amazing.  I love that Adam Biderman’s involved, and I’m glad they took over that space.
NL: People say New Orleans is so far behind that we’re ahead.  Why do you think that is?
KPB: It’s like the Cherry Bounce.  I would love to see that on someone’s menu. That’s a very New Orleans thing.  It’s cherries macerated with sugar in high-proof alcohol.  You could look up the cherry bounce and see five million family recipes.  We take those backbones and skeletons of what we have, and we create something amazing.  Cure does amazing things.  Cane and Table does amazing things.  I like that we’re pushing those envelopes.  And I think we’re just as valid as any of the other major markets.  And there are smaller markets coming up too; Kansas City is doing great things.  And we’ve got Jamie and Ted Kilgore in St. Louis doing some cool shit.  But none of it would have happened if New Orleans hadn’t started bringing this culture back.
NL: Who do you think has led the charge in New Orleans?
KPB: I really have to say Neal Bodenheimer and Cure started everything.  And he changed Freret Street for sure. And they’ve got incredible bartenders — Ryan Gannon.  I fucking love that cat.  Nick Jarrett - Jesus Christ.  He’s a liver-killer.
NL: I think that everybody's worst night is with Nick Jarrett.
KPB: ...and you think you’re on the same level as him, but you’re not because he seems completely in control.  You think, if he’s in control, then I’m in control.  No. I’m not.  I’m dying.  I probably have alcohol poisoning.
NL: What can people expect to see you doing in the next few months?
KPBI am working on opening up my own place.  I think there needs to be a place that’s really specific on authentic Mexican street food and tequilas and mezcals.  It’s going to be typical Kim-sexy and fun. It's having a sense of humor and having a good time. That's what I'm looking forward to.  I want to create a very controlled circus where everyone can feel safe and get full, drunk, and laid.
NL: Now on to my favorite question.  What is your favorite Chris Hannah-ism?
KPB: Two of the texts I’ve gotten from him, and one was from Runamok, was how his first tingling in the nether regions were due to the Land-O-Lakes girl.  And I didn’t know about the folding it and making the knees into boobs thing.
NL: Land-O-Lakes boob thing?
KPB: Trust me, I asked my husband, and he was like “Yeah, absolutely.”  And I said, “Why did I never know about this?!”  Well, apparently, that was his first love. And the second one was, “You know that bird Siri who you birds keep talking to?  You might want to leave her alone for ten minutes because I’m under the desk fondling her.”  And I’m like, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning.  Why am I getting this?!
I love that he always joins me for Thanksgiving to watch Dean Martin.  I know that during that day at some point, he’s going to go around the corner, and it’s the second pole to the right on Chartres St, and he’s going to take a nap there.  He’s a fascinating dude.  And he’s one of my best friends.  They don’t make 'em like that anymore.  He is New Orleans.     --NL

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