By Lolis Eric Elie
Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda) is quite impressed with the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. It rotates every 20 minutes, he tells Loretta Mortenson (Susan Gallagher). And it does, offering a view of Royal Street (one of the best streets in the French Quarter), the lobby of the Monteleone Hotel (a venerable hotel in the old style) and other patrons (who tend not to be the drunken denizens of Bourbon Street).
Mortenson is unmoved.
Normally, I wouldn’t offer advice to Nelson on how to pick up women--or contractors. But, in this case, I may take liberties and offer this advice: She might have been more impressed if Nelson had introduced her to Marvin Allen, bar professional extraordinaire, and one of his signature cocktails.
In this era of the cocktail’s renaissance, there’s a rush to celebrate the newest, most unusual drink ingredients. What is sometimes forgotten is that we have a whole cocktail history’s worth of ingredients, techniques, combinations and inspirations to choose from. That’s where a man like Marvin Allen comes in: He’s spent decades tending bar and is just as knowledgeable as his older peers and just as creative as the younger professionals aspiring to his mastery.
We feature recipes from Marvin in our forthcoming cookbook, 'Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans.' If you're looking for a little libation now, here’s a recipe for a drink that isn’t in the book, the Criollo Cocktail. It’s named after the hotel’s new restaurant, Criollo, the Spanish term for Creole.