Welcome to Up and Comers, a look at New Orleans hottest up and coming bartenders. Earlier this month, Eater asked some of our city's top bartenders for their suggestions on the best young crop of mixologists in town. All Cocktail Week long Eater will be spotlighting the best of the bunch. Cure's Braden LaGrone kicks things off.
Braden Lagrone has been working in bars for the past ten years, starting off in Lafayette's Blue Dog Cafe when he was 18 years-old. After a stint in Portland, he returned to Louisiana and landed a bar back gig at Cure, working his way up as an apprentice and now a full-fledged bartender with Cure and also as one of the opening bartenders at proto-tiki mecca Cane & Table. Cure owner Neal Bodenheimer says, "Braden certainly is an established New Orleans bartending talent at this point, but I believe that there aren't enough people who know his name." Here now, LaGrone talks about his love of mezcal, the imminent tiki push, and the best hangover remedy.
What ingredients and flavors in cocktails are you obsessed with right now?
Right now, I love bitter and smoky. I love mezcal because you get the floral, delicate notes in the finish, while still being smoky at the same time, so you can do a lot of complex things with it. So that's kind of what i've been drinking and experimenting with right now.
What cocktail books have influenced you the most?
Oh man. I would definitely say when Jeff Berry's Potions of the Caribbean came out, that was really invigorating to me. It's like taking his other books and blending it with Wayne Curtis' And A Bottle of Rum to explore the history of colonial culture and drinking. And the classics: David Wondrich's Imbibe. The Flowing Bowl. How To Mix Drinks. Also, The Drunken Botanist is a great exploration of ingredients.
What do you see as the next trend in cocktails in New Orleans?
Definitely with the opening of Jeff Berry's bar, and focus Cane & Table and Tiki Tolteca recently being revamped, we're going to have a tiki push. Lots of rum flowing. Awesome garnishes. Also, more places that are more warm, welcoming, and have a friendlier atmosphere. People just get so much from that realm of drinking. Let's loosen the tie a bit.
Best hangover remedy in three words?
Ibuprofen, pork, gin.