If you find yourself in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, take a break from the watered-down hurricane punch and light beer of Bourbon Street, and head down a few blocks to SoBou to savor a truer taste of the Big Easy’s rich cocktail history.
At SoBou, which stands for south of Bourbon Street, there are plenty of small bites like pork cracklins and creole beer nuts to nibble on while enjoying a drink, but there are sound bites, too, courtesy of Abigail Deirdre Gullo, head bar chef, who loves to regale guests with hilarious tales and learned drink histories while she creates cocktails.
“I’m a natural storyteller,” says Gullo, “and come from a long line of writers and historians. That element is a part of my life and something I like to share at the bar.”
To wit: Gullo loves to recount the little-known history of the Sazerac—New Orleans’s famous rye cocktail—while she mixes up her Cognac-based version called the Taylor Bird Sazerac.
“Cognac stopped being in vogue in cocktails after the wine epidemic in the mid- 19th century,” says Gullo. “So, Cognac gets replaced by whiskey. But the original version had Cognac. My whole idea behind this drink was paying homage to the original gentlemen who created it.”
Since white refined sugar was unavailable in those days, Gullo uses Demerara sugar syrup instead.
“I’m trying to create a window in time to the 1800s,” she says. “I love to share this rich history with people. It can add to the whole experience, plus, an educated customer is a happy customer.”