Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pin It

Like Hell It’s Yours

Moonshine expert and author Matt Rowley said he was arriving from the airport when somebody looked at him and said, "You must be on your way to Tales of the Cocktail."

~ Judy Walker
New Orleans Times-Picayune
22 July 2008

It was the hat that gave me away to Janet Haigh (aka Nurse Cocktail, wife of Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh). I might have passed if it weren’t for the light straw Dobbs I wore off the plane. But Janet had been to enough Tales of the Cocktails to know a southern alcoholist when she saw one.

See, I’ve got a head like a melon. It doesn’t look very big or out of proportion, but just try to put a hat on it and even so-called large chapeaux just perch there, precariously balanced on that dome just waiting for a gust of wind to blow it, Miller’s Crossing style, down the lane.

Check out the gunners sitting up front at Tales of the Cocktail listening to Wayne Curtis talk on Potions of the Caribbean. I'm not in the pic because, well, somebody had to back up and take the shot.

As I close in on forty, baseball caps no longer seem fitting, but I’m not quite ready for an Edward G. Robinson-style felt fedora. Some time ago I settled on a straw Dobbs job from Meyer the Hatter in New Orleans. I’d been musing the idea of a decent hat for a while when one particularly hot day, with the sun beating down, I walked past Meyer. I went in, tried on a few styles (of increasingly bigger dimensions) and walked out with a light straw hat that shields my head just fine against brutal sun.

Whether I cast a dashing figure in such a hat is an arguable point, I’ll concede. In fact, living in San Diego, it seems positively out of place. New Orleans, on the other hand, is a hat town. More men doff a hat—not a baseball cap, but a proper, brimmed hat—than anywhere else I’ve seen. Face it: the place has been in business since 1894, so somebody is buying a lot of the things.

Meyer’s tagline is “The South's Largest Hat Store.” I can believe it—the place is lousy with hats, hats stacked higher than you can reach, hats in boxes and shelves, hung from hooks and racks. They’ve got Kangols and panamas, cowboys hats and captain’s hats. Not the place to go for a faux Viking helmet, but safari helmets are there for the buying.

The other tagline—the one people actually know more—is printed on a card that comes with every hat. Big, green sans serif print at the top declare: “Like Hell It’s Yours.” Mine’s filled out with my name and kept tucked into the interior band.

So, if you like what Judy Walker calls the “'60s Cuban casino look” then get your tail to Meyer (or your local haberdashery), grab a small straw hat—you can even go porkpie if you like—and mix up a lovely rum cocktail. May I suggest a Barbados Red Rum Swizzle from Blair Reynolds?

  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 ounces Barbados Rum
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Squeeze lime and drop in 10-ounce glass; fill glass with shaved ice; add rest of ingredients and swizzle. See the rest of his post at Trader Tiki here.


No comments: