Bayona at Ward 6: A tribute-worthy drink of the week
Ward 6's Bayona celebrates the spirit of New Orleans and one of its protegees.
It doesn't take long in our fair cities to realize that, while the scope of our restaurant and bar scene is grand, the industry community is teeny-tiny. Chances are, everyone you've staged with, bar-backed for, or worked alongside on the line is only a degree or two of separation from your innermost circle. Worlds collide, as they are wont to do, which might explain why there's a cocktail at Payne-Phalen's Ward 6 dedicated to the chef of a French kitchen in Uptown.
Sarah Master, currently a contestant on ABC's The Taste, drew admiration from Ward 6 co-owner Bob Parker because, in his words, Master "just personifies so much of what I admire in a chef, without any of the artifice and hubris that so many of them seem to think is de rigueur for the job."
Fragrant with elderflower and violet, the Bayona takes inspiration from the New Orleans restaurant of the same name where Master "learned how to cook, how to manage, how to work, everything!" Parker brings a bit of the bayou to the frozen north in the form of a finely crafted cocktail, one he rejiggered and serves up in his bustling upscale pub food joint on the East Side.
Absolut Hibiskus, St. Germain, and Creme d'Yvette are mixed with fresh lime and topped with prosecco. It's sweet, floral, and as potent as it is pretty. It's definitely not the first thing you'd expect from a beer and beef-fat fried fish and chips kind of joint, but that's the beauty of Ward 6, a place where old school relish trays sit alongside coq au vin, toeing the line between elegant and utterly approachable -- the same qualities Parker admires in Chef Master's craft.
The only problem? "She hasn't had one yet!" says Parker. We say it's time for a reunion. And by the way, if you haven't been keeping up with this season of The Taste, you're missing out on the best food-themed reality TV this side of Top Chef Season 1, with a dream team of chef mentors (Nigella Lawson, Marcus Samuelsson, Ludo Lefebvre, and Anthony Bourdain) whose distinct cooking styles and personalities make for an endlessly entertaining dynamic -- that, and the fact they frequently imbibe on set, which can only be a good thing. Chef Master is competing on Samuelsson's team in this blind-tasting style fight to the finish. Watch Thursdays at home at 7 p.m., or get social at Bryant Lake Bowl every week at 9:30 p.m. to cheer on our hometown hero.