I have no hesitation in admitting that I am a bit of a cocktail snob. Marachino cherries? I’d prefer Luxardos. Concentrated juice from a plastic lemon? Thanks, but I’ll pass. Weird “cookies and cream” artificially flavored liquor? Uhm, no. Hyped up beverages made by rappers and celebrities? Not in my glass.
Although I typically know what I don’t want, I occasionally can have a “kinda-sorta” cocktail moment. You know what I mean, right? You really want a great cocktail, however you only “kinda sorta” know what you want; but “kinda sorta” don’t exactly know how to articulate it; so you order something hoping you’d at least “kinda sorta” like it; only to then send the drink back because it “kinda sorta” doesn’t really taste the way you “kinda sorta” hoped? It’s a bit of a special kind of “cocktail hell.”
Fortunately a trip to New Orleans had me singing “hallelujah!” because I stumbled upon an experience that saved from eternal drink damnation. Now everyone knows that New Orleans is well known for its’ incredible cocktail scene, so it’s not hard to find a spectacular drink in general here, but what I experienced was truly spectacular: I had a highly personalized, customized, one-of-a-kind cocktail made specifically and solely Just. For. Me. It was cocktail heaven!
Located on Magazine Street is the cocktail nirvana known as Apolline Restaurant & Bar. Apolline hosts a fun, enticing and unique 2-hour cocktail experience called “Custom Drink Fittings” where for $25 you get two cocktails made to your specifications. The fittings are held on Wednesdays only, and it’s limited to only 3 participants each at two sitting times of 6 pm and 8pm. With just 6 guests allowed it’s exclusive for sure, but what else makes “Custom Drink Fittings” so special?
Well let’s find out, shall we?
1.) The bartender gets in your business: no, not your personal biz, but event participants are asked a series of various, unique and sometimes seemingly unrelated questions. Think of it as a 1st date between you and the drink of your dreams.
2.) What you say can be used against you: Or for you, depending on how you look at it, because those answers are used to determine which spirits, mixers and fresh ingredients will, or won’t, be used to make your distinct cocktails.
3.) They tippler customer is always right: if don’t like your drink, the bar professional will try another incarnation until he gets it juuuust right. Trust me, he is determined to give you a cocktail happy ending. Wait…nevermind.
4.) Quality is everything: the place means business when it comes to making an excellent cocktail and using top notch, incentive ingredients. For instance, they use rosemary grown on the restaurant’s grounds for drinks and smoke fresh oranges to add a unique, smoky flavor layer to the juice.
I had SUCH a blast when I attended a fitting. A few of the questions Bar Director, and self-described “Professional Enabler,” Mark Schettler asked me included “What’s your favorite candy?” (chocolate or fruity, like Jolly Ranchers); “Do you like ethnic cuisine?” (YES!); “What’s your favorite liquor?” (bourbon; gin; and champs, of course) and “How do you feel about spicy food” (I love spices and spicy food!).
And do you know what he did with that information? He made magic, that’s what. He deciphered my answers into delicious drink form with Haitian Rhum, Noyau de Poissy (an organic, French apricot liqueur), orange flower water, lime, and Lillet Blanc topped off with Prosecco. H-E-A-V-E-N!!
If a concoction turns out to be stellar (like mine did!), you get to name the drink and it goes into the bar’s personal cocktail book. You can then order it again and again (and again!) whenever you visit the restaurant. Fittings cost $25, which includes 2 different drinks, and you have to reserve a spot. Needless to say that those 6 seats fill up very quickly!
So if you find yourself in New Orleans and you’re want to have a cocktail experience where you know you’re your cocktail prayers will be answered, do yourself a favor and get thine self to the Custom Drink Fitting at Apolline.
Do it. Save yourself from damnation.
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