Notes on Chris…
The Mint Julep dates back to the very early 1800’s as a medicinal cocktail. In 1820 it became a true cocktail which spread from the Southern states across the nation. It stayed popular for about 50 years and then began to slowly fade away as
other drinks became known.
My first taste of a cocktail was the Mint Julep. Unforgettable to say the least. I was about 12 years old and attending a party in honor of my Daddy’s brother Phil at my Aunt Myrtle’s home in Shreveport It must have been in August as I remember the heat being unbearable. Her home hosted the best parties — full of fun, relatives, great food and people misbehaving. My immediate family was different from my other relatives — the only Baptist’s in the bunch. You know what that means. No drinking. So suffice it to say I got a lot of education about life attending those parties. The men would gather together outside leaving all of the women in the cool house to socialize. I wanted to be outside — all of the men were drinking these mint drinks, laughing, smoking and having fun. I slipped outside to see my uncle and he asked me to take a taste of what was in his glass. I will remember the taste the rest of my life. Sweet, minty and so strong it made my eyes water. He laughed and told me it was a Mint Julep — “What gentlemen drink when it’s hot outside, baby” — All the men were laughing because they knew my Daddy had stepped inside and would have had a stroke if he had known I had tasted alcohol. To this day I remember all the laughing and smiles on those faces in that hot summer sun.
Just thinking about that reminds me of the time my Aunt Mildred started dancing on Christmas Eve and fell into the Christmas tree at Aunt Myrtle’s. She took the whole tree down and had to have knee surgery on Christmas Day!
But back to the Mint Julep…
I think every Bartender has a one drink that is their go-to drink. The one you always want, judge other Bartender’s by and recommend to guests uncertain of which cocktail to drink. Mine is the Sidecar. Chris McMillan’s is the Mint Julep. Order one with him and you will never have another anywhere like the one he prepares for you. The ritual of his preparation is beautiful. His deep voice, sure hands and his presence make it unforgettable. Where other than New Orleans would you meet someone like him and hear the Bartender recite a poem while he prepares the cocktail?
It never fails to bring me to tears — the sheer beauty of the drink and the beauty of someone like Chris. We are fortunate to have him in this city. Make it a point to visit him and enjoy his drink and his company.