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Mixologist of the Month: Chris Hannah

July 14, 2011

You can’t get very far profiling the top mixologists without running into Chris Hannah. So it’s only natural in this – our 3rd post in the top mixologists in our Mixologists of the Month series –  that we wander on down to New Orlean’s and shine the light on the man behind the bar at Arnaud’s The French 75.

Photo of Chris Hannah Mixologist courtesy of Arnaud's
Chris Hannah, Mixologist of the Month, courtesy of Arnaud's

Almost 100 years old, Arnaud’s is a legend on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter is a classic (as lovers of cocktail liberty, we salute any place that got through Prohibition by serving ‘special coffees’), however, it also manages to be as fresh, real and relevant as tomorrow.

Appropriately, the man behind the bar – named one of the top 5 bars in America by Esquire – is a new legend himself. Chris is a big believer in the classic cocktail- he’s been a driving force behind the creation of the Museum of the American Cocktail – and he relies on fresh ingredients and home-made syrups to mix it up old school while keeping a fresh, open mind.

We caught up to him and asked him seven good questions.

What’s your story? How did you get so interested in cocktails?

I’m a neophobe, simple as. Because I had to work restaurants going thru college I discovered the role of a bartender, after finding out cocktails dated to a time I’d rather be in I became more and more interested.

What compelled you to become a bartender? (I mean, there are other ways to make a living.)

I bartended 3 nights a week after my 5 day a week accounting job, I realized I liked helping guests get along with their stay and so there was no fighting Hospitality being in my future. I moved to New Orleans.

What differentiates The French 75 bar from other cocktail bars?

The ingredients we make are old and dated, we make shrubbs, orgeat, drams, falernum; our infusions are rock and rye, which is also dated. We will make crafted cocktails, but we refuse to be pretentious…when there are hundreds of cocktails still not remade there’s no need to make our own. Come in to French 75 Bar and let’s play the role together: you order a classic cocktail, and I’ll try to make it how my fallen bartenders built it back then, it’s fun.

Why do you think rum is enjoying such a renaissance?

It’s versatile. It’s amazing in long tiki cocktails perfect for our hot summers, yet can be stirred and sipped in fall and winter.. It has a natural great nose and sugar quality that promotes blending with other ingredients: citrus, spirits.

What’s a great easy rum drink people can make at home?

The Daiquiri

Denizen Phoenix Daiquiri

(You can find a recipe at Facebook.com/DenizenRum )

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one rum drink, what would it be?

Nui Nui

Who’s the most liberated spirit you know (past or present)? Who has lived life the most freely?

Tennessee Williams

 

Tennessee Williams Liberated Spirit
Tennessee Williams, Liberated Spirit and New Orleans denizen

 

As July brings about the annual Tales of the Cocktail in the Crescent City, we salute Chris, Tennessee and all the other master mixolgists who have made New Orleans a bastion of cocktail freedom.

 

Denizen is a new choice in white rum: created by master blenders in Amsterdam from three different styles of rum from Jamaica and Trinidad and specifically crafted for the new golden age of rum mixology. Ranking with the big boys in award shows and critical reviews it’s available in great cocktail bars in the New York area and online at sites such as DrinkUpNY.com

 

 

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