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Welcome to The Land Of Cocktails!
The ultimate insider’s journey into the dynamic culture of cocktails, wine and food from America’s first party town, New Orleans. The brainchild of Ti Martin and Lally Brennan, the “Cocktail Chicks,” owners and proprietors of Commander’s Palace, Zagat’s 17-time top-rated restaurant in New Orleans, and authors of the best-selling book “In the Land of Cocktails.”
No More Bad Cocktails! This destination site is for anyone with an appreciation for fine living and dining. If you want to Join the Revolution this is your place. Ti and Lally serve as your ambassadors of cocktail excellence around the world, introducing you to the top bar chefs, authors, and personalities as their guests. Come back often!
Food, family, tradition and the New Orleans restaurant world were the early launching pads for
Ti Adelaide Martin’s diverse and successful career. Indeed, this would be the world to which she would ultimately return after studying and practicing business elsewhere. Today, Ti applies her eclectic past and raw business acumen to co-running her family’s legendary restaurant – the historic Commander’s Palace – back on her home turf in New Orleans.
Ti credits her mother, Ella Brennan, the “grande dame” of her family’s restaurant dynasty (which currently includes Commander’s Palace, Café Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar and Brennan’s of Houston), for setting the stage for her eventual love of the restaurant business. “When I was a child, she was always hosting these lavish, and I mean lavish, parties at our house. Most were catered by Brennan’s (then owned by her parents) and there were lots of interesting people and food professionals there from around the country. I spent a ton of time in the restaurant as a child – dish washing, printing souvenirs on the menus – whatever was needed,” Ti describes.
Ti attended Newman High School in her hometown before spreading her wings to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she received a degree in business. Though Ti originally contemplated a career in law, she ultimately pursued business studies at Tulane University’s graduate school where she attained an MBA in Finance and Marketing in 1984. Ti applied her knowledge to a real estate career in Houston, Texas, before returning to New Orleans in 1986.
Again, her mother Ella, this time due to health reasons, was the primary impetus for coming home and getting into the business of the family restaurants. “She had a triple bi-pass and I said, whoa, she’s my mentor and my best pal. Let me go home now and enjoy working with her,” says Ti.
Ever the entrepreneur, Ti launched a food products company called Creole Cravings in 1986, which she eventually sold to McCormick. Ti then got on the family restaurant bandwagon with cousins Dickie and Brad Brennan to open Palace Café restaurant in 1991, which Esquire magazine subsequently named one of the top ten new restaurants in America.
By 1997 Ti became full time co-proprietor of Commander’s Palace, a title she shares with her cousin Lally Brennan. “We run the joint,” Ti says with a giggle. Seriously, Ti directs the bulk of her energies towards the food and business end of things at the restaurant. In addition, she has penned three cookbooks including James Beard Foundation nominated Commander’s Kitchen, which she co-authored with Commander’s Palace Executive Chef the late Jamie Shannon. Published in 2001, it was followed by In the Land of Cocktails, a hit recipe book of 75 cocktails, their history and why they’re important to New Orleans. Co-authored with her cousin Lally Brennan, released on November 1, 2007 (HarperCollins). Also look for Commander’s Wild Side, an ode to the hunting and fishing lore of life in Louisiana inspired by Commander’s Palace’s “Off the Menu” television series, in autumn 2008.
Of Commander’s Palace, her professional home of the past decade, and the seat of her soul for much of her life, Ti speaks with pride and nostalgia. “We may hold the keys to Commander’s, but the restaurant really belongs to New Orleans. We try to live up to what people expect and want it to be even better and to represent what the city is all about – not just the food, but the way of life, the soul and the attitude that is New Orleans.”
A loving and active aunt to her “big, wonderful Irish clan of nieces and nephews,” Ti also pursues several civic and restaurant industry activities including:
- Board Member, New Orleans Aviation Board
- Commencement Speaker, Loyola University New Orleans May 2005
- Co-founder, New Orleans “Proud to Call it Home” Campaign
- Past Member, Executive Committee of Metrovision
- Board Member, Bureau of Governmental Research
- Co-Chair, 1997 Louisiana Human Rights Campaign
- Louisiana Board Member, United Negro College Fund
- Past Board Member, Young Leadership Council
- Past Board Member and Executive Committee Member, Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Tourism and Convention Bureau
- Les Dames d’Escoffier
- International Association of Culinary Professionals
- IAWCR – International Association of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (founding member, New Orleans Chapter)
- International Women’s Forum
- 2005 Loyola University New Orleans – Honorary Doctorate, Business
- 2000 City Business – City Business’ Women of the Year Award
- 1999 Nation’s Restaurant News – 50 New Tastemakers
- 1999 Gambit – Top 40 Under 40
- 1998 New Orleans Magazine – Iberville Award Winner
- 1997 Restaurants and Institutions Magazine – Ivy Award “Restaurateur of Distinction”
- 1997 Women Business Owners’ Award
For restaurant veteran Lally Brennan, work and family are inextricably linked. Lally counts as family not only the eight members of the Brennan brood that successfully steer the Commander’s Palace Family of Restaurants, but also the patrons of the lauded restaurant group (which includes flagship property Commander’s Palace and Café Adelaide & The Swizzle Stick Bar in New Orleans and Brennan’s of Houston), and the restaurant’s collective staff. “It’s crucial to like what you do and the people you serve and work with. I consider all of them family. I truly respect and admire every single one of our patrons and the people that work with us. Just like family, we always want them to earn our respect,” Lally explains.
Lally’s professional life hasn’t always revolved around restaurants, but the pleasures of food, family tradition and restaurants run through her veins. The daughter of second-generation Americans with respective roots in Italy and Ireland, Lally was literally raised on good food. “It was our lifestyle. My mother always had big family dinners at our house. She’d cook and have something fabulous and Italian or maybe corned beef and cabbage for my Irish Dad. It’s the stuff I grew up on.” At the age of 13, Lally received her first introduction into the family’s burgeoning restaurant business working the front door at Brennan’s on Royal Street and helping with paperwork in the attic upstairs.
Destiny and an interest in art history and design would ultimately deliver Lally to the hallowed halls of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas for collegiate studies, temporarily removing her from her hometown and family in New Orleans. But by the time she was nearing 30, her father gently asked her to come back to help with the growing family business. Never one to say no to her “true Southern gentleman” Dad, Lally jumped in, initially overseeing the front of the house as a floor manager at Mr. B’s, a New Orleans-style cuisine restaurant then owned by her father. “I did a bit of everything. My three days a week turned into five days a week with split shifts. I got pulled into the lifestyle of the business and I loved it,” she recalls.
Within two years, Lally was transferred to the family’s legendary restaurant star, Commander’s Palace, which she currently co-owns with her cousin, Ti Adelaide Martin. Over the past two decades, Lally has put her tireless energy, business acumen and artistic talents to work in many capacities, including playing an active role in the post-Katrina redecoration and design of the restaurant – an elegant look she describes as “current and whimsical”. But, she doesn’t approach her work with heavy-handed whimsy.
“I feel a major responsibility to carry on the work that my family has done and to strive for perfection on a daily basis. I expect it of myself and New Orleans and the world expects it of us,” says Lally.
When she’s not at the restaurant, Lally enjoys spending time with her seven nieces and nephews which range in age from 4 to 23. Recently, she’s become involved in a New Orleans-based organization called Girls First. Its principle mission is to build self esteem and improve the lives and futures of inner city girls. Lally’s other considerable civic, charitable and industry activities include:
- The Audubon Institute
- Prevent Child Abuse Board Member
- Longue Vue House & Gardens
- Contemporary Arts Center, Past Board Member
- New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts
- Junior League Sustainer
- Herman Grima Foundation
- Co-founder, Les Dames d’Escoffiers, the New Orleans Chapter
- International Association of Culinary Professionals
- James Beard Foundation
- Louisiana Restaurant Association
- New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Women’s Chefs and Restaurateurs
Georgia Ragsdale Executive Producer
Georgia wishes she knew as much as Ti Martin forgot about cocktails! A native Texan and Southern Methodist University graduate, Georgia has a background in the arts as well as business and enjoys the marriage of commerce with entertainment, food and beverage.
Nancylee Myatt Writer/Producer/Director
Nancylee Myatt has been writing and producing primetime television for the last 15 years. Some of Ms. Myatt’s early television credits include, “Night Court,” where she worked the last two seasons of its eleven-year run and ended up writing the series finale. She was the only female writer on the staff of “The Powers That Be” with Norman Lear, as well as producing and writing on “The Five Mrs. Buchanans” and “Living Single” for which she won a NAACP award. Ms. Myatt created and produced the teen sitcom “Social Studies” for UPN. For two seasons she pounded out episodes of “Recess,” “Lloyd in Space” and “Teacher’s Pet” from Disney TV animation and ABC for which she won an Emmy for 2001. Ms. Myatt launched and served as the Co-Executive Producer/show runner, Writer and Director for “South Of Nowhere” on the N MTV networks for it’s first 2 seasons. The show was nominated both years for a GLAAD Media Award for Best Outstanding Drama, and a Teen Choice nomination for best breakout show. In addition to producing and creating content for the “In The Land of Cocktails” website, she co-created and produced the award winning webseries “3Way” and the all girl western “Cowgirl Up.” Recently, Ms. Myatt relocated to New Orleans, a city she calls her muse. And in her spare time you can find her betting the horses and supporting the cocktail revolution one great cocktail at a time.
Paige Bernhardt Writer/Producer
Raised in North Georgia, Paige found her way first to New York University and ultimately to Los Angeles to be a writer/producer, playwright and filmmaker. Some of Ms. Bernhardt’s writing credits include “Two Guys and A Girl,” “Yes, Dear,” ‘What About Joan” and “South of Nowhere.” Among her producing credits are “The Ride: Seven Days to End Aids” (Logo) and “Rollergirls” (A&E). She and partner, Nancylee Myatt, were so inspired by working on “In The Land of Cocktails” they moved together to New Orleans in 2010. Paige is currently working on a Young Adult book series.