Remember the first time you had a margarita made with premium tequila, Cointreau and real lime juice? It probably dawned on you that every margarita you had tasted up to that point was inferior. Well, there’s a new breed of mixologist out there who believes it’s time for everyone to demand a drink, any drink, that is beautifully made. You’ll find one of those mixologists at Cafe Adelaide and The Swizzle Stick Bar in New Orleans. Her name is Lu Brow and she’s not just a damn good bartender, she’s a bar chef.
What’s the difference? A bartender prepares drinks according to a recipe. A bar chef crafts recipes and prepares them with fresh juices and mixers. A bar chef believes that good food and drink are equal partners.
To showcase Brow’s talents, a Bar Chef Table was created. When chef Danny Trace prepares a specially crafted dinner menu for his chef’s table, Brow pairs each course with unique cocktails, served in tasting- sized glasses. Talk about upping the ante. Imagine being a customerwhere you have two amazing professionals catering to your needs; one with food, the other with drink, both in concert with each other.
For example, during one dinner she matched a blueberry cocktail to a blueberry tart dessert. She muddles fresh berries with sugar and let them macerate for three days before cooking them into a syrup and mixing that with vanilla liqueur and a touch of Chambord. She garnished the drink with a surgar cane skewer speared through fresh blueberries.
For its efforts, Cafe Adelaide and The Swizzle Stick Bar won Sante magazine’s 2006 Spirits Hospitality Award.
Ironically, Brow never bartended before arriving at Cafe Adelaide in 2005. She worked as a manager at a fine-dining restaurant in Shreveport, LA, before losing everything in Hurricane Katrina. She’s since studied with Ted Haigh, author of Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails and Dale DeGroff, founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail. Brow also completed the Beverage Alcohol Resource program, which is the mixology equivalent of a master sommelier program.
“Being behind the bar, it’s a surprise every day,” says Brow. “I absolutely love what I do.”