Chris McMillan is one of the most respected bartenders in New Orleans, and fans of his well-crafted drinks and equally inventive stories have followed him all around town. After manning the cocktail programs at the Ritz and Kingfish, he and his wife, Laura, have finally opened their own spot on Carrolton, just a block off the streetcar line. I only wish the bar was longer so that it could accommodate everyone who wants to chat with Chris.
Tuesday summer nights are normally a bit quiet in New Orleans, but not here. Each seat at the bar is packed with cocktail aficionados sipping on Chris’s libations. The menu requires some time to read, with each page dedicated to a different era in the growth of the cocktail. At the bar, brass elephants wrap their trunks around a brass arm rail and raise it aloft. Laura tells us that the bar came from Kentucky and at one point in its history was the bar for a strip club. We can see cigarette burns along its top, marks of its own history. Chris even had additional elephants made to match the originals on the bar to extend the rail. When we look closely we can see that the newer ones are shinier and lack the patina of the older ones. Lee observes the only way to age them is having people rub them, lean on them and spill their drinks on them We wonder what those elephants have seen, and what they will never forget. Patrons lean in and listen to Chris’s stories. We join them, doing our part to help the new elephants catch up with the old.