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Chris Hannah Talks Healthy Cocktails And Mojito-Loathing

 Chris Hannah
Chris Hannah
Photo: Josh Brasted

Chris Hannah is one of New Orleans most beloved bartenders, manning the bar at Arnaud's French 75 bar, where he turns out impeccable classics with a reverence for the history that accompanies them. While you may spot him wandering the Quarter on Mardi Gras Day with a shopping cart full of punch, or making mulled wine in Jackson Square on Christmas, if you've never visited Hannah at the small, divine cigar bar attached to Arnaud's, you're truly missing out. But please, just don't order a mojito.

Here now, Hannah answers reader questions for our Cocktail Week feature Ask The Pros. Also make sure to check out bartenders Kimberly Patton Bragg and Kirk Estopinal in Ask The Pros as well.

Why are y'all (bartenders) so awesome?

We're awesome because we know we're on this mission together, to keep cocktail culture in New Orleans at the level it used to be, the top level. A lot of people are stunned to hear how healthy the competition is here in New Orleans, and how none of us really gripe with each other. If we didn't really like each other why would we take trips together? I went to Vegas with Kirk [Estopinal] and have taken several trips with Kim [Patton Bragg] to Portland and Louisville. Who spends money on trips with people they don't like or want to be around? Obviously we learn from each other and push to get better and all that, but it's the real camaraderie between us that means the most to me.

What's your least favorite drink to make and why?

The Mojito. I really don't even like the way the word sounds coming out of guests' mouths, and it's because we have a far superior refreshing cocktail that we've made our own over the past hundred years...The Pimm's Cup.

What cocktail or spirit do you wish more people would order?

The Brandy Crusta. It's just as old as the Sazerac, and also in my opinion, has just as much history with the city as well.

What's next cocktail-wise?

Juice Machines behind bars as well as blenders. Everything is healthy this and healthy that, and so next we're going to be adding sherry and aperitivos to our wheatgrass, kale, beet mixtures. Healthy and Organic low-proof cocktails.

What's your favorite party drink?

Mulled wine. We make a one and a half gallon batch in Jackson Square on Christmas, or make it over a fire in my backyard after Thursday's Muses Parade, or Monday's Orpheus Parade. Other than that, eggnog.

So much has changed cocktail-wise in New Orleans in the past five years, where do you see New Orleans' cocktail scene in the next five years?

I think proper cocktail mechanics behind the bar will have gone from Craft Cocktail destinations only, to all restaurant bars, both low-brow and high-brow, and even interloping with dive-bars.

· All Cocktail Week 2013 [-ENOLA-]

French 75

813 Bienville St, , LA 70112 (504) 523-5433 Visit Website