Sunday, September 07, 2008

Miss Flo and The Court of Two Sisters

Walking around the French Quarter and seeing people of all colors having fun seemed like the most natural thing during my visit this summer. But I was surprised to learn from a native that for many years, people of color were not allowed to go there if they were not going to work.

So it was all the more impressive to meet Floria Woodard, the diva of the bartending staff at The Court of Two Sisters, a restaurant established back in 1832!! After three visits and three hot sweaty walks over into the French Quarter, I finally caught up with her. Miss Flo as the staff call her, is a legend around the Court of Two Sisters. She's been tending bar longer than I've been alive. She started working on the floor in the late 60s, helping to integrate the waitstaff as a hostess. Later she started working behind the bar and hasn't looked back.

Though the names of many classic New Orleans drinks like the Sazerac and Mint Julep are posted on the wall behind the bar, most of the visitors ask for sweet and potent concoctions like Hurricanes, Pina Coladas and Miss Flo's own fruity creation: The Bayou Bash. Whatever you order, she serves it up with knowledgeable bartender banter and a "here you go sugar" as she passes the drink across the bar. After interviewing her about her craft and watching her work a crowd of tourists who stopped in on a bar tour, I ordered a Ramos Gin Fizz for the walk back to the hotel. The icy, gin milk shake with a hint of orange flower water was the perfect foil for the heat and made for a pleasant memory of the woman who made it. Let's pray that the next hurricane on the way bypasses the Crescent City.

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