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. Carrie Dumaine, part of the bar team at the eagerly awaited new Brennan's Restaurant, talks the circle of cocktail flavor and learning French.
Carrie Dumaine is currently in a holding pattern for the opening of the new Brennan's Restaurant on Royal Street. The age of the building and how that affects city standards and codes is keeping the opening date up in the air, but according to Dumaine, it's not so bad. Although of course Dumaine and the rest of the staff are anxious to begin, the delays have given everyone time to get in depth training in French, wine, and fine dining. "On the one hand," Dumaine says, "we're all super excited waiting for it all to begin. On the other hand, it's kind of like... can I have another French class?" Dumaine, who comes from working under Chris MacMillan at Kingfish as well as Cheryl Charming at the Bourbon O Bar, says that "every member of the bar team at Brennan's is awesome," and she's excited to be a part of it.
What ingredients and flavors in cocktails are you obsessed with right now?
I'm liking "Old Man" drinks right now. It's fall, so scotch cocktails are fun to play with. I love that smokey, savory aspect. Although, I'm also starting to appreciate the lighter, fruitier drink - it might be with all the tiki stuff around these days. I think that the cycle will come around to look at those types of cocktails again, probably in the spring or summer, with new eyes. I also love incorporating the history of New Orleans and how it ties in with its cocktails. I love putting classics first with a new twist to them.
What cocktail books have influenced you the most?
Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology helped me with classifying all the cocktails. Then I got to meet him at Tales of the Cocktail, which impacted my understanding of what he was writing even more. He has a way of making things - either writing or through conversation - that seem so broad be much more approachable. I also love The Cocktail Lab [by Tony Conigliaro], because it appeals to my inner geek. It's more science-y and technical. He does say to shake a Sazerac, which... no. But I kind of love him even more for that, it's like, very endearing, he's so focused on the molecular aspect of things. Also, pretty much anything that Warren Bobrow writes, I really enjoy him a lot.
What do you see as the next trend in cocktails in New Orleans?
Well, to a point, I think we'll start moving away from this super serious craft cocktail vibe, you know, the kind that is takes 20 minutes to make a drink and get it to the customer. I think here, it's a given that everyone knows all that stuff, and now we need to focus on getting people their drink fast. You don't need to prove yourself with all the bells and whistles anymore, which I think makes everything more accessible. It's not just a few people doing this stuff now - there's so much talent in the city. The standards now are so high, that everyone has upped their game.
Best hangover remedy in three words?
Booze. Bitters. Mint.