From A Marie Brizard Herstory Veteran
Last year, New Orleans bartender Alexandria Bowler of Arnaud's French 75 bar was a finalist in the Marie Brizard Toast to Herstory Challenge with her Paris of the South cocktail created in honor of Lady Germaine, the legendary Mardi Gras Queen. Despite being a local, Bowler said the Marie Brizard team rolled out the same red carpet the other finalists received, which made life significantly easier for her during Tales of the Cocktail. A hotel room in the Monteleone saved countless trips to her Garden District apartment when there was little downtime between seminars and events.
But beyond the flash of being a contender, Bowler found the opportunity to honor a woman she admired irresistible. This year, she plans to honor another New Orleans icon, one she personally learned from on a scholarship awarded by the James Beard Foundation for promoting women in leadership. She landed at Commander’s Palace two years ago, and it was there that she began to learn from Ella Brennan by working nearly every corner of the landmark restaurant, including accounting and marketing. Bowler was particularly impressed by the savvy ways Commander’s Palace and its creative pursuits - the book and the film - have reached international acclaim, thanks to in-house efforts to spread the word.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Marie Brizard liqueurs are products that Bowler frequently uses. “My two favorite Marie Brizard products to work with are the Parfait Amour, or perfect love, which is liqueur comprised of sweet orange, vanilla, and orange blossom,” says Bowler. “It makes me nostalgic for my home in the sunny valley of Arizona. The Apry is also lovely. It tastes of dried apricot and has a delicate almond quality to it.” Bowler adds that the Brizard products, unlike many on the market, represent a dedication to quality. They are “the apex of elixirs,” she says. “They also have a deep history in the world of liqueurs, which makes this competition so fitting.”
While Bowler works on her entry for this year’s Marie Brizard Toast to Herstory Challenge, she took a few minutes to share with TOTCF some thoughts on what this particular competition means to her and why other women bartenders should raise their shakers for the occasion.
The deadline for the Toast to Herstory Challenge is Monday, May 14, 2018. More information and entry form can be found here.
In Bowler’s words, a few thoughts for prospective competitors...
Advice I would give to others hoping to participate in this competition: A cocktail that tastes good is certainly important, but I think this competition is more about the story, choosing a truly exemplary woman and projecting that into a cocktail. This is a public platform to give your idols praise; make it count.
While choosing which woman to exemplify can be a challenge, it's easy for me to want to choose women like Ella Brennan, Leah Chase, or Alice Waters because I love showing how we, as food and beverage professionals have the power to greatly influence our community, push for social reform, influence politics, educate, and entertain all at the same time.