This column affords me the opportunity to meet many bartenders in our LGBT community. But with my schedule and well over a dozen venues, it is hard to meet every one of them especially when you factor in schedules. So when a good friend of mine called me up raving about the personable bartender who treats him so wonderfully, I made it a point to visit him. My friend is Stewart Butler who is a delightful man who has been a leader in our community for many years. When he personally calls me up, I listen.
The object of his praise is a well-deserved bartender who can be found at GrandPre’s. I am talking about none other than Aaron Yaeger. Aaron has been working at GrandPre’s for almost three years and makes his six year anniversary in New Orleans this month. He hails from Nashville. Stuart did not exaggerate, this man is wonderful. He is witty, personable and makes a very stiff cocktail.
I asked him what his specialty cocktail was and his answer impressed me. He loves to make classic New Orleans drinks, like the Hurricane. But his Hurricanes include real juice, no mixers and his Sazeracs are simply divine. When he is out and about, however, he prefers Dark and Stormy’s, or whiskey and Hi-Life.
Aaron is one of those down-to-earth individuals who you are instantly enamored of because of his personality. He credits GrandPre’s as one of the main reasons he fits so well behind the bar. “This place is a neighborhood place. I know 90% of my clientele, what they drink and their schedules. I know when they will be in and have their cocktail ready.” Now that is a good bartender!
Even the slow pace of the summer does not affect him too much since most of his patronage are locals. “This is a really personal bar, I have so many friends who come and see me. We are like family. In this city, we are all about community and create our own family and that is how I feel about my customers, they are an extension of my family.”
I can see why locals love the bar and him, but I asked him why should a tourist choose his place. “Because at GrandPre’s, you will get a really personal experience. I like to make them feel like they are being welcomed into our home. It is a relaxed atmosphere. I love talking to people and getting to know them which sometimes does not happen at other places.”
I literally sat at GrandPre’s for several hours enjoying Aaron’s stories and talking to him in-between his helping other customers. He is a professional behind the bar and truly makes everyone feel special. He is also helping them with some of their shows. GrandPre’s has the only cabaret license on Rampart Street and now has live music every Thursday night. So make it a point to go visit Aaron at GrandPre’s (834 N. Rampart Street) and enjoy true Southern hospitality.