Porchlight Will Ring In 2016 With a Big Easy Bash

(L to R): Flagg Day, Blue Lagoon, Behind the Mule, and Absinthe SuisseEXPAND
(L to R): Flagg Day, Blue Lagoon, Behind the Mule, and Absinthe Suisse
Courtesy of Porchlight

New York can often feel like hundreds of cities squeezed together. On New Year’s Eve, New Orleans will be represented in a big way when Union Square Hospitality Group's Southern-inspired cocktail joint, Porchlight (271 Eleventh Avenue; 212-981-6188), opens its doors for a festive Crescent City immersion. Executive chef and NOLA native Jean-Paul Bourgeois will be cooking up a roast suckling pig, fried frog legs, and crawfish pies to pair with a quartet of cocktails made in collaboration with (and served simultaneously at) the Big Easy’s own Cure cocktail bar.

General manager Michael Shain, managing partner Mark Maynard-Parisi, and head bartender Nick Bennett first hit upon the idea when they met Cure owner Neal Bodenheimer (who did a stint at the Modern before migrating down south) at the epic cocktail fest Tales of the Cocktail this past summer.

“After a few conversations, we were able to create a menu that not only represents our own cocktails but also some New Orleans classics and Cure heavy-hitters,” Shain explains. Of particular note is the Champagne shrub for toasts - a mainstay at Cure made with preserved fruit - and the tequila-based yerba agave. “Yerba agave was a standout right away since there are few tequila-based southern cocktails. This one from Cure evokes a lot of comfort and soothes the soul. It’s complex yet incredibly smooth and easy to drink,” Shain says of the concoction, which also contains Benedictine — an herbal spirit that boasts medicinal roots — and crème de menthe.

Bennett describes these as “old school” as much as they are “NOLA-inspired” while noting that he’ll be pouring ten additional cocktails, half lifted from Porchlight’s whiskey-heavy offerings, like the “Flag Day,” made with Rittenhouse rye, Grand Marnier and the digestif amaro, Cardamaro, and an absinthe suisse, a smooth blend of its namesake spirit (specifically Vieux Pontarlier from eastern France), creme de Menthe and egg white. The other drinks are Big Easy classics like a sherry cobbler, Creole julep, and Bennett’s personal favorite, the Café Bruot, made with Louis Royer Cognac, orange, baking spices and coffee. He notes the drink is s a great way to “seal the deal.”

Dubbed “New Year, New Bar, New Orleans,” the border-defying celebration will employ the talents of the retro-jazz group Hot Jazz Jumpers – who could have escaped from a Woody Allen movie – to invoke the Dixieland-spirit of blues and world music that’s at the heart of the city’s famed music scene. The gin-based "Jitters," featuring the French vermouth Noilly Prat Dry, seems made to be brought out onto the dance floor.

Jugglers, magicians and acrobats will mingle throughout the crowd and a tarot card reader will be on hand to let you know how those soon-to-be-made resolutions will pan out. “Given our Southern roots, we thought it would be fun to celebrate the Big Easy’s exuberant culture of free-flowing drinks, soulful food and incomparable live music,” Maynard-Parisi notes.

The open bar festivities will flow from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with “churched-up” jello shots to imbibe between drinks and “boozed-up” root beer floats and egg nog because, as Mae West famously quipped, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”      

Tickets are $175 and are all-inclusive — get them here.

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