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. Crystal Pavlas, recently of Dominique's, currently at St. Lawrence, shares her thoughts on cocktails and the scene in New Orleans.
Crystal Pavlas was recommended to Eater by not one, but two of her peers. T. Cole Newton of Twelve Mile Limit says that she's a "regular fixture at events and contests and always kills." Latitude 29's Steve Yamada has worked with her to prepare for competitions (like the USBG-sponsored New Orleans' Top Mixologist Competition earlier this month, which Pavlas participated in) and has been impressed with her ability to listen and execute perfectly. West Bank native and full-time UNO student Pavlas helped open the French Quarter eatery St. Lawrence two years ago, and then left to work with Ian Julian at Dominique's on Magazine. With the current transition there, she came back to St. Lawrence to revamp the cocktail menu and run its program.
What ingredients and flavors in cocktails are you obsessed with right now?
Right now, I'm obsessed with Oryza gin, and also Bayou spiced rum. I love those two liquors. Oh! And also Sorel, which is a hibiscus liqueur. And Creme de Violette. Those are my top four.
What cocktail books have influenced you the most?
Well, it's not necessarily a cocktail book, it's a flavor thesaurus. [The Flavour Thesaurus, by Niki Segnit] This was written for foods, but you can easily incorporate it into cocktails as well. I love [Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh] because I feel like every New Orleans bartender should know things like, say the Vieux Carré or the Sazerac. And it lists all the history too. I think this is an excellent book.
What do you see as the next trend in cocktails in New Orleans?
There's a lot of infusions going on. I've heard of a fried chicken martini. I've always tried to think of staying local, supporting local brands and businesses. That seems to be the ongoing trend as of now.
Best hangover remedy in three words?
Water, Coca-Cola, Jameson.