Don't be surprised to find a man in a chef's coat slinging drinks at Borgne - that's Executive Chef Brian Landry behind the bar. "I don't pull a [bar] shift or anything," he says, "but once everyone's fed, it can be a nice way for me to connect with customers."
In the same way, Landry made sure the Borgne kitchen - now open 10 months - was running smoothly before he turned his attention to cocktails. Besides occasionally stepping behind the stick, Landry has written the latest list.
Expect his same flair for flavor pairing, refined from years of helming fine dining restaurants, as well as an eye for elegant, simple presentation. (He got front-of-the-house and beverage training as manager of the Red Eye Grill, years ago.)
At Borgne, "we don't need eight-step drinks," says Landry, pointing out the crush of customers who spring up before a concert or football game in the Superdome (or hotel conference-goers who break at the same time).
For sure, the drinks are straightforward and clever.
The Honeysuckle Hotty bridges my favorite season - a sultry Southern summer - with, well, now, in a soothing toddy based on Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka. Landry wisely keeps it simple, as the vodka is herbaceous and delicate, with a hint of sweet corn, and only needs the warm prodding of chamomile tea to bloom.
Customize your sweetness with the rock candy stirrer, which adds a soft blush to this round, comforting cocktail.
On the other end of the thermometer is the Festivus Mojito, Landry's seasonal twist on the classic cooler: he builds on traditional rum-lime-mint, adding housemade mulling spiced syrup as the sweetener and a crisp apple cider for carbonation (I happen to like that spark in mojitos). Landry favors dark rum here for its richer molasses flavor. Stirred together, Festivus features a holiday-spiced depth you don't normally get in a mojito; this one, of course, is "for the rest of us".
Borgne Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency, 601 Loyola Ave., 613.3860
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