Seasoned bartenders often scoff when a customer sidles up with a claim to have invented a new cocktail, but the potent potables served at Iris (8115 Jeannette St., 862-5848; www.irisneworleans.com) are enough to turn heads. The cocktail list here is the work of Alan Walter, who can be found behind the Riverbend cafÕs small bar mixing beautiful, unique drinks from a collection of his own fruit-infused liquors, purees, syrups and as many as 13 freshly-squeezed juices. Now, Iris has started a new spin-off business called Bar None offering Òcocktail cateringÓ for private parties away from the restaurant. Walter brings his own bar and everything in it to mix a selection of his cocktails for guests. The menu could include such creations as kaffir cayenne limeade, made with a Òcayenne teaÓ Walter brews with an espresso maker and vodka infused with leaves from his own kaffir lime tree. His watermelon chartreuse margarita is another uniquely refreshing cocktail, as is the Suze Q, made with the French liqueur Suze, fresh cucumber and orange juices, tonic, lime and a cinnamon-dusted rim. Walter says the service is best suited for parties with no more than 50 guests. Call Iris for information.
The Crescent City Farmers Market is planning a new feature for its downtown Saturday morning market (700 Magazine St.; www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.com) called the Visiting Chef Station. The booth will work as a Òresearch stationÓ for local restaurant chefs to try out new menu items using farm-fresh ingredients available from market vendors. The aim is to connect more chefs with local farmers, help chefs promote their restaurants and give market shoppers inspirations for their own dishes at home. Earlier this spring, local catering chefs and market regulars Kristen Essig (www.nolaben.com) and Anne Churchill (www.karma-kitchen.com) each took turns in a trial run for the new station and now the market is looking for other chefs interested in participating. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. for more information.
As the summer heats up and the tourism and convention business cools down, restaurants look more and more to locals to fill their tables. The most extensive seasonal enticement, called ÒCOOLinary New Orleans,Ó is now underway again. Organized for the past three years by the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, the deal offers three-course lunch menus for $20.07 or less and three-course dinner menus for $30.07 or less through July, August and September. The list of 31 participating businesses runs the gamut from the cityÕs oldest and most traditional establishments, like AntoineÕs and TujagueÕs, to contemporary restaurants like 7 on Fulton and La Cote Brasserie. A list of restaurants, their special menus and other information is available at www.coolinaryneworleans.com. Ñ McNulty