I have never been one to go and simply hang out at a bar. It is generally not my style, however, with the resurgence of a cocktail culture in the United States, I have found it much easier to do so. Bars like The Pegu Club and PDT in NYC or The Violet Hour in Chicago have awakened a spirit from within me attracting me to the finer temples of the cocktail. Aside from great drinks, one element all of the best cocktail bars have is a great bartender, a bartender who along with an ability to be creative, shows a reverence for technique and product and can regale the guest with the love of the craft and the tales of the cocktail. Few, if any do this better than Chris Mcmillian of the Bar On Common located within the Renaissaince Pere Marquette Hotel on Common Street in New Orleans adjacent to Restaurant MiLa within the same hotel.
On the recommendation of friends, I first met Mr. Mcmillian just over a year ago on a visit to New Orleans. At that time, I stayed in the Pere Marquette and had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Mcmillian and his craft. I even paid a visit to The Museum of the American Cocktail, to which Mr. Mcmillian had a part in the formation of. Then, as now, he regaled me and my companions with fascinating tales of New Orleans, cocktails and life. Best of all, his libations were amongst the bet I have had.
This year, I had or tasted six different cocktails made by Chris over several visits including a Sazerac (the official cocktail of New Orleans), a Pimm's Cup, a Mint Julep (accompanied by a recital of a poem extolling the virtues of the drink), a Ramos Gin Fizz, a Gin Deaux (a Mcmillian creation featuring Plymouth Gin, candied ginger, lemon juice and maybe something else) and a Strawberry Bourbon Smash. Mcmillian does it all by hand and it shows. Each cocktail was simply delicious and beautifully balanced, perfect examples of their kind. It is easy to get sucked in to sitting at that bar. Alas, dinner reservations drew us away. I will, however, return to visit Mr. Mcmillian whenever I am in New Orleans as I have become a fan of the man and his product.
Ramos Gin Fizz Gin Deaux Mint Julep Strawberry Bourbon Smash