*Recent ruminations from LUPEC, originally published in the Weekly Dig
by Pink Lady
In just 13 days the ladies of LUPEC Boston will descend upon the New Orleans along with roughly 10,000 other mixologists, brand ambassadors, cocktail writers, and die-hard cocktail enthusiasts. Its one of our favorite weeks of the year – and one of out drunkest – and we’ve already begun prepping our livers. We hope you’ll indulge us as we get into the spirit and raise a glass to one of New Orleans’, greatest bartending broads, the late Flo Woodard.
Woodard, also known as “Ms. Flo”, became a bartender at the Court of Two Sisters in the early 1970s and held court behind the stick there for over 30 years. At the time, the company was looking for “someone with integrity and longevity, someone that could make the customers want to always visit our business again for our total experience,” Flo told the New Orleans Time-Picayune in 2009. This former hostess was a perfect fit. Female bartenders were virtually unheard of in the Crescent City in those days and The Court of Two Sisters were ahead of the times.
Woodard was a self-taught bartender who learned her craft from the pages of bar books, but the special brand of hospitality she practiced was innate. Flo was revered by customers for more than what she put in their glass. Her affable personality and zest for sharing stories brought scores of loyal bar patrons, including celebrity fans, from Cesar Romero to Tyler Perry to the entire cast of “The Young and the Restless” (a favorite show of Ms. Flo’s) to John Wayne’s son, Patrick.
Ms. Flo’s talent for engaging guests was also her passion: “Bartending has allowed me the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world. Many of them have shared much of their lives and secrets with me. When they call me Mama or Auntie, I know that I am the lucky one. I get to share my work time with people that I love. That is very big. They are very special to me. I have been blessed. That little girl from Mississippi found the rest of her family,” said Flo in her 2009 interview with the New Orleans Time-Picayune.
Flo was a star mixologist in her own right, who believed a good drink depends on to top of the line liquor, the right mix of ingredients, a fresh twist, and perfect glassware. In 2007 her Crescent City Cooler placed Second in the Tales of the Cocktail annual drink competition. Her famous Hurricane recipe was also reknown.
Flo passed away on March 16, 2010, but her legend endures. In Ms. Flo’s words: “A good bartender must have the personality of an ambassador, the attitude of a leader and the ability to be a great listener. That is the winning combination. And, of course, you must love people and talking to them.”
Let’s raise one of these to Ms. Flo and those who tend bar in her tradition by lifting our spirits with a good drink.
Crescent City Cooler
By Flo Woodard
10 Cleaned mint leaves
1 Dash simple syrup
2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
2 Dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Juice of 2 lime wedges
2 ounces Bacardi Light rum
2 ounces Ginger Ale
3/4 ounce Cranberry juice
Place mint leaves into a frosted Collins glass. Add the simple syrup and both bitters and muddle for 10 seconds. Add the juice from 2 lime wedges, Bacardi Light and ginger ale. Fill the Collins glass with ice and stir with a bar spoon. Top with cranberry juice. Serve with a straw.
Garnish: Garnish with a lime wheel and mint sprig.
TALES OF THE COCKTAIL IS JULY 21st-25th IN NEW ORLEANS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT TALESOFTHECOCKTAIL.COM.